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Time stands still in city since clock expert retired.

TIME has literally stood still around Swansea since expert horologist David Mitchell ceased fixing the city's clocks.

The 74-year-old Morriston man is the reason a large number of the city's clock towers functioned smoothly for years, with the former co-owner of Astra Jewellers being firmly the go-to person when any large building encountered time problems.

Now, two years after his retirement, a significant number of the city's public clocks have stopped working, with Mr Mitchell remaining the only man in Swansea with the required skills and experience to solve the problem.

Clocks on top of the old police station, the YMCA, Morgans Hotel, the Morris Buildings in the Kingsway and All Saints Church have all either experienced technical faults or have stopped working altogether.

"The clocks were all working well until I finished," said Mr Mitchell.

"I was the only man in Swansea that knows how to fix these clocks and I still am.

"I have fixed and helped maintain some of the biggest clocks in Swansea down the years such as the Morriston Tabernacle, Swansea market and the marina toilets to name but a few."

Mr Mitchell began his career in 1958 at Astra Jewellers which was owned by his future wife's father Charles Dilley, who arrived in Swansea from Portsmouth after the Second World War. "I wasn't the brightest in school but I was very good with my hands," said the 74-year-old.

"I used to love working up on the clock towers even though they could be really high up.

"Personally the height never scared me but I took a friend up there once and he got scared.

"Before the health and safety laws got stricter you used to walk along planks sometimes in the dark with only a torch.

"Once up there you would have to take the clock apart to see what the problem was and there were times where you had to go into the clock to fix it which could be fairly dangerous."

After a long career Astra Jewellers shut in 1999, however due to his passion for clocks Mr Mitchell continued to ensure that the city's clocks remained ticking.

For years Swansea Council were in charge of the maintenance for the city's public clocks, however responsibility has now passed over to the properties' owners.

"A number of Swansea's clocks now have automatic winding mechanisms," said Mr Mitchell.

"It's not easy to admit it but electric clocks are now the future."


Swansea horologist David Mitchell John Corbett

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 22, 2017
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