Horologist gets his job back after silencing city's clocks

Emma Woollacott

Swansea's clocks, silenced since Saturday, are due to start ticking again after the council renewed the contract of its resident horologist.

Under a special bye-law, it's the council's responsibility to maintain the clocks on a number of public and private buildings including churches, court buildings and a hotel.

And David Mitchell, 72, had worked for seven years beyond retirement age because this needs to be done by hand.

But when Mr Mitchell's contract came to an end and the council failed to draw up a new one, he reluctantly called it a day.

The clocks were all stopped and set to midnight to protect the pulley systems from the weight.

"I have been doing it since 1985 until I finished last week with no-one to replace me," he told the Daily Telegraph.

"I was emotional doing my last rounds - except that I was angry with the council."

But the council has now relented, and given Mr Mitchell a contract to continue for another year. He will also look into the possibility of upgrading the clocks with self-winding mechanisms.

"I will do the clocks and get prices for upgrades. The council rang to say they were putting a contract in the post," he tells ITV News.

"I said I will save them posting it and will come to the Guildhall to sign it. I am glad it has been sorted out."

The council is also hoping to persuade the churches and other private clock owners to maintain the clocks themselves instead.

Despite one or two media reports to the contrary, Mr Mitchell wasn't simply acting out of revenge when he stopped the clocks - he had valid safety reasons.

But he has no doubt that his dramatic move had helped to make his point: "It was a hard thing to do, but it was the only way it could be done," he told the South Wales Evening Post.

Sometimes, though, disgruntled ex-employees cause real damage. Last summer, we reported on the case of airport worker Wayne Crook, who caused £175,000 worth of damage at the Bristol Flying Centre after being fired. Somehow we don't think he'll be getting his job back any time soon.

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