The Dutch Reformed Church in Aberdeen, which is claimed to have the tallest spire in South Africa, is a striking landmark in the town much loved by locals and visitors alike.
However, for the best part of 2016, there was a part of it that was NOT “striking”, as for many months the clock in the tower was out of order. Initially it very intermittently displayed the right time, then for a while showed different times on all four faces, and eventually gave up completely, with the hands stuck at five minutes to one. During the intermittent phase, it would occasionally chime correctly, but was also heard to chime 13 times at 4.30pm! Eventually the chiming also stopped, and residents missed the reassuring regularity of the tolling bell.
Dominee Abe Beyers explained that they initially thought that the problem was due to the wrong lubricating oil being used. The clockwork was thoroughly cleaned but to no avail. Then a local handyman diagnosed that the bearings were worn out. This caused some despair, at the thought of the enormous amount of work that would be involved in dismantling the clock, bringing it down from the tower, repairing it and then having to assemble it again up in the tower.
“Fortunately a member of the church, Sieg Nel, remembered the name of Nico van der Merwe – a former teacher in Aberdeen many years ago, who now owns a clock restoration business in Heidelberg in the Western Cape” explained Ds Beyers.
Van der Merwe was contacted, and he agreed to come and service the clock, and make the necessary adjustments. “On Monday 18th December 2017 we could hear the sound of the clock striking out the time over our beloved little town of Aberdeen” continued a delighted Ds Beyers.
Church member Eugene Rademeyer now attends to the clock regularly, maintaining it according to the detailed instructions given by van der Merwe.
The church is grateful to Hannes Eyssen for his initiative to raise money for the repair, with a collection box in a local café so that members of the community could become involved in the project. Other donations were promised by residents of the town, as the clock is truly of benefit to all.