Council House bells toll one last time on David’s watch

David Lyon has called time as the custodian of the Council House clock for the last 32 years.

Mr Lyon has been manually winding up the clock mechanism once a week since 1985, keeping the citizens of Nottingham on time with the unmistakable sound of Little John chiming on the hour.

Now aged 75, Mr Lyon has climbed the 77 steps into the clock tower for the last time (on Friday 22 September), to wind up the mechanism which operates the clock and bells beneath the Council House dome for the final time. His duties will be taken over by Smiths of Derby.

Watch David wind the Council House clock for the final time

The clock was designed in 1928 by Copes, a long-established local jewellers and clock-makers who Mr Lyon trained with, before establishing his own clock and watch repairing business over 50 years ago.

Mr Lyon has taken the responsibility of keeping the clock running on time very seriously, and is extremely proud of the quality of the clock mechanism and the bells.

He said: “It is considered to be the best set of clock bells in the country. The main bell here is Little John. It is 10.5 tonnes and on a clear day you can hear it seven-and-a-half miles away down the Trent valley.

“It’s got a beautiful tone – far better than Big Ben because Big Ben was cracked when it was put in and has never been altered. It has rather a tinny sound unlike Little John which is mellow.”

Little John was recently carefully considered as a possible replacement for the Big Ben chimes broadcast live every day on BBC Radio 4 while the Palace of Westminster repairs are underway. Mr Lyon showed BBC bosses around the clock tower – but had to explain that an engineering restriction put in place in the 1930s that prevents chiming between 10.30pm and 8am could not be lifted. This unfortunately meant Little John could not be used and so the BBC are making do with recordings of Big Ben.

A certificate marking Mr Lyon’s long service to the City of Nottingham will be placed in the clock tower and a copy presented to him by the Lord Mayor of Nottingham, Councillor Mike Edwards.

Councillor Edwards said: “Keeping the Council House clock, and therefore Nottingham, running on time for 32 years is a huge responsibility and we’re very grateful to David for his dedication and expertise.

“Climbing all the steps to the clock room and then winding the mechanism is a real work-out which has clearly helped to keep him fit all these years – but we understand that it’s now time for him to put his feet up.”

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