Can historic clock tower controversially knocked down by council be rebuilt?

Report states Stirling Council must reinstate clock tower that was unexpectedly ripped down due to safety concerns.

Extensive damage sustained by a historic clock tower in Stirling during its unexpected demolition has cast doubt on the future of the significant monument.

Last month, Stirling Council began work to remove the head of the George Christie clock for urgent off-site repairs after it was deemed at risk of “immediate collapse” by specialists.

However, the structure’s lack of stability resulted in both the clock head and tower being demolished.

A council report commissioned immediately after the incident states the local authority has a responsibility to maintain the clock and “will need to reinstate” the structure.

Christie ClockBarry Hughes via Barry Hughes

However, it recognises the extent of the damage caused to the stonework, clock face and internal mechanisms means it is not currently clear how much of the original clock can be saved.

It also states a “significant proportion of the clock tower will require to be remade from new stone”.

The demolition of the category C-Listed building has seen Stirling Council receive criticism from locals, who claim the clock was removed at night with no warning and amounted to “cultural vandalism”.

Local resident Peter Smith said he was shocked to wake up and find the historic clock gone.

Shock at demolishing of historical Stirling clock towerSTV News

He said: “When we started to see the pictures on social media, it was absolutely shocking. And the way it was done in the middle of the night, the council have a lot of explaining to do.

“You walk past that, something that was part of your life for so many years, and you say ‘well what else is going to be knocked down?’”

Derek Anderson was out for dinner in a nearby restaurant when the demolition began.

He said: “I came out and I could see what was happening. There were quite a few residents about filming on their phones, people shouting from the flats above, and the contractors weren’t really engaging – they just carried on.

“Rather than restore, they just demolished it. It wasn’t what a piece of history of that quality deserved.”

The report promises a cost plan for its reinstatement by the end of the next financial year, March 2024.

It outlines how the council will need to engage the necessary specialists, and estimates the initial phase of the project could cost up to £50,000 to be met from “existing revenue budgets”.

It also recommends a “refreshed approach” to the council’s heritage strategy – one that takes into account the views of “communities and citizens, partner bodies and special interest groups”.

The clock tower was erected in the city in 1906 in memory of George Christie, who was Provost of the Royal Burgh of Stirling from 1870 to 1879.

Councillor Chris Kane, the leader of Stirling Council, said: “We acknowledge and share the public concern following the demolition of the Christie Clock.

“A review that was immediately commissioned by the chief executive into the circumstances of the demolition is ongoing.

“Following the identification of serious structural issues on Tuesday, August 29, specialist advice had recommended the clock be removed for off-site repairs and, ultimately, led to the images and videos we watched with such concern. I share the shock of residents at the way the Christie Clock came down.

“We recognise this event has caused widespread concern, and we will continue to work with all relevant external organisations throughout the review process.”

Alyn Smith MP said: “I have written to Stirling Council leader Chris Kane, to establish the facts of the matter and ensure residents get the answers and reassurances they deserve.

“I’m very glad no-one was hurt during this restoration procedure, as it’s very evident from the available footage something went horribly wrong during this operation.

“I’m very clear in my view, the council should investigate the events leading up to the destruction of the clock, and commit to its full restoration. Stirling Council has an important responsibility to protect Stirling’s heritage, and they must live up to their duties.”

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