Famous city timepiece to be restored back to former glory by Norwich watchmakers

Michlmayr Clock and Watchmakers which was set up by Simon Michlmayr.
PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Michlmayr Clock and Watchmakers which was set up by Simon Michlmayr. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

It has been part of Norwich’s landscape for the last 70 years - and now the former Norwich Union clock attached to a centuries-old city centre building is getting a much-needed makeover.

Aviva, formerly Norwich Union, Surrey Street, Norwich. Photo: Steve Adams

Aviva, formerly Norwich Union, Surrey Street, Norwich. Photo: Steve Adams - Credit: Steve Adams

Bignold House in Surrey Street, which once belonged to the insurance giant’s estate 190 years before the company was rebranded as Aviva - is home to the clock which has become synonymous with the road it is placed on.

It is being restored to its former glory by family-run Michlmayr Clock and Watchmakers, based on Fletcher Way, in the north of the city.

While taking it down, watchmaker Simon Michlmayr said he had been approached by a number of people who witnessed its removal, asking when it would be returned again, including a man who said he spent a morning standing under the clock in 1953 on his first day working for Norwich Union.

Mr Michlmayr said: “We find with public clocks, that most people don’t notice them until they are not working or they are not there. So they are very important.

The clock on Surrey Street. Photo: Antony Kelly

The clock on Surrey Street. Photo: Antony Kelly - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2006


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“People walk up and down in the street and they see them and subconsciously they are looking at them all the time.”

Michlmayr was commissioned by the Aviva Arts Department to repair some mechanical problems on the clock. The company had already repaired and carried out maintenance on it nearly 25 years ago.

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The timepiece, which was built in the 1950s, was originally part of a master system of clocks based in the main Norwich Union building which pulsed every clock so they all read the same time. It is now electrically driven and over time it has been exposed to the elements, as well as pollution and dust in the atmosphere.

Mr Michlmayr added: “It will be shinny again. All the gold leaves last really well but that will be renewed. There’s a St George’s crest on it and the Norwich dragon on the other side. The shields are actually enamel, and they need a little bit of work because some of the enamel is broken off. But all of that can be done and it will look fabulous again.”

The Norwich Union/Aviva clock on Surrey Street in 1963. Picture: Archant Library

The Norwich Union/Aviva clock on Surrey Street in 1963. Picture: Archant Library - Credit: Archant Library

The team will be carrying out a full restoration, which also includes working on the exterior of the clock and making pieces which have become rusted or broken.

It is hoped that the work will take no longer than two months.

The Norwich Union clock in Surrey Street. entrance and sign. Photo: Denise Bradley

The Norwich Union clock in Surrey Street. entrance and sign. Photo: Denise Bradley - Credit: Archant © 2007

The Norwich Union clock on Surrey Street, Norwich, has been removed for restoration and repair work.

The Norwich Union clock on Surrey Street, Norwich, has been removed for restoration and repair work. Picture: Michlmayr Clock and Watchmakers - Credit: Archant

The Norwich Union clock on Surrey Street, Norwich, has been removed for restoration and repair work.

The Norwich Union clock on Surrey Street, Norwich, has been removed for restoration and repair work. Picture: Michlmayr Clock and Watchmakers - Credit: Archant

The Norwich Union clock on Surrey Street, Norwich, has been removed for restoration and repair work.

The Norwich Union clock on Surrey Street, Norwich, has been removed for restoration and repair work. Picture: Michlmayr Clock and Watchmakers - Credit: Archant

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