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The Mallock Memorial Clock Tower: A Stalwart Torquay Landmark Remembered by Martin Dutton

Updated: May 24, 2023

Undoubtedly Torquay owes much of its charm to the array of architectural gems that bear witness to its rich history and cultural heritage. Among these treasures stands the magnificent Mallock Memorial Clock Tower, a Grade II listed building that has adorned the harbourside since its completion in 1902.

Situated at the junctions of the Strand, Torwood Street, and Victoria Parade, adjacent to Torquay Harbour, the Mallock Memorial Clock Tower occupies a prime position within the town's bustling heart. Crafted with meticulous attention to detail, the tower is a splendid example of Gothic architecture, constructed using sandstone and local limestone. Its triangular shape, embellished with flying buttresses and traceried panels on each face, commands attention and exudes a sense of grandeur.


The clock tower with its three faces, positioned to face each of the three approaching streets, offering passers-by a glimpse into the inexorable passage of time. Designed by the esteemed local architect John Donkin, the tower stands as a testament to the contributions and legacy of Richard Mallock, a prominent figure in Torquay. Mallock, who owned the nearby Cockington estate and served as a Member of Parliament for Torquay, met an untimely demise while on vacation in Scotland in 1900. The clock tower was erected in his memory through public subscriptions, symbolizing the profound impact he had on the community.


The craftsmanship displayed in the construction of the Mallock Memorial Clock Tower is a testament to the skill and artistry of the era. The sculpting work was entrusted to Harry Hems & Sons of Exeter, who painstakingly crafted the intricate details that grace the tower. The contractor responsible for its construction was EP Bovey, a local Torquay firm. Together, these artisans brought to life Donkin's vision, resulting in an architectural marvel that has stood the test of time

Over the years, the clock tower has become an iconic symbol of Torquay, featuring prominently in postcards and photographs of the town. However, like many historic structures, the passage of time had taken its toll on the tower, and by 2010, it was in need of restoration. Thankfully, a £65,000 grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, combined with £30,000 from Torbay Council, provided the necessary funding for the much-needed refurbishment.


During the restoration process, a remarkable discovery was made—the original bell, which had not rung since the outset of the Second World War, was found carefully wrapped at the top of the tower. This unexpected revelation evoked a sense of nostalgia and added to the tower's historical significance. The bell was subsequently reinstalled, allowing its melodious chimes to resonate once more, heralding the passage of time and serving as a reminder of the tower's enduring legacy.


The Mallock Memorial Clock Tower owes much of its smooth operation to the dedication of a remarkable local resident, Keith Fursdon. Since 1963, Keith has diligently wound the clock mechanism on a weekly basis, ensuring its reliable functioning and preserving the tower's historical charm. In 2013, in recognition of his unwavering commitment, the council presented Keith with a certificate honouring his invaluable service. Even at 75 years of age, Keith's passion for the clock tower remained undiminished, and he expressed his intention to continue this task until 2025, when he would reach the age of 80. Sadly though, Keith passed away before reaching this goal, remembered and recognised for his community spirit and contribution to town.


As the Mallock Memorial Clock Tower stands tall, it serves as a physical reminder of Richard Mallock's contributions to the town and pays homage to Torquay's rich history. With its intricate design, Gothic-inspired architecture, and the restored bell that resonates once more, this iconic landmark will continue to captivate the hearts and minds of all who encounter it. The Mallock Memorial Clock Tower stands as a timeless testament to the past, present, and future of Torquay, inviting visitors to reflect on the significance of time and the enduring legacy of those who came before us.

The Mallock Memorial Clocktower No 3
The Mallock Memorial Clocktower No 3
Painting the Passing of Time

Captured by artist Martin Dutton, the towering memorial is depicted in changing light across these three works, the clock face marking each moment as the Gothic design casts sharp shadows.


You can discover Martin's work at Artizan Collective Gallery until June 25th. For more information, visit www.art-hub.co.uk/ex/md23


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