Council move for historic clock ticks all the right boxes for owner

Clock owner Barry Torrens.
Clock owner Barry Torrens.

The owner of the tallest free-standing grandfather clock in the world says he is happy that the historic timepiece has found a temporary home in the borough, The Coleraine Times can reveal.

Portrush businessman, Barry Torrens, expressed relief that the clock was now being sited at the Bann Gallery of Causeway and Glens Council offices in Cloonavin.

Earlier this month we reported that Barry had been forced to put the antique item up for sale because no suitable location could be found to exhibit it in the area.

The timepiece was made in 1892 by the renowned clock-maker Sharman D. Neill, Belfast and erected at Portrush railway station in 1892 when Queen Victoria was monarch.

Barry told The Coleraine Times today: “In 2007, and with the permission of the late Frank Trufelli, I sited the clock inside the door of Barry’s Amusements, within 80 metres of where it originally stood on the Portrush Railway Station platform.

“It was to be sited there as a temporary measure however it turned out to be there in total for eight years.

“At the beginning of February this year Barry’s requested that I remove the clock as they had purchased a new larger ride that would spill over onto the footprint where the clock stood.

“In a bid to find a new site I approached the helpful and able Portrush Heritage Group to see if they could assist.

“Initially, discussions with the Causeway Coast and Glens Council appeared positive, but not everywhere could house a 5.5 metre clock that weighs over 1,000 kgs, so it wasn’t a straight-forward task.”

Barry went on to explain: “My original main aim, when I returned the clock to the North Coast in 2007, was to have the clock working, be on public display and remain on the North Coast .

“but as months passed the hope that it would remain here seemed less likely.

“During this search I was approached by a number of private organisations saying they would house it, but most of them were either out of the borough or not suitable.

“By September this year, the clock had been in dry secure storage for six months and still nowhere suitable was found so I reluctantly put this piece up for sale, hoping that it could be on public display and working elsewhere.

“I had three offers in total, unfortunately each would have taken this piece away from this area.

“It was then that the Causeway Council agreed that this piece should be displayed in the Bann Gallery at their Cloonavin headquarters.

“This site ticks all the right boxes for me and for the clock, it’s on public display, it’s working and it remains on the North Coast.

“There is talk of it eventually being moved to a renovated Portrush Railway Station, but I’ll watch to see what transpires. Currently I’m happy looking at it in Cloonavin.”