South East Wales

Newport mechanical clock gets new home in Llanwern

Newport Clock
Image caption The Newport Clock was an artwork that opened, paraded model figures and blew steam on the hour at its location in John Frost Square

A giant mechanical clock which once stood in the centre of Newport is to be reassembled in a new location after spending five years in storage.

Created in 1991, "In the Nick of Time" had a mechanical display of skeletons, steel and angels and cost £100,000.

Councillors have accepted an offer to rebuild the artwork on a roundabout at a regeneration development in Llanwern.

The move is set to save taxpayers £7,000 a year but will not see the clock's mechanism restored.

The 30ft (9m) tall arch-shaped clock began life representing Newport at the 1992 Garden Festival in Ebbw Vale, Blaenau Gwent, held on the site of a former steelworks.

Its creator, urban architectural sculptor Andy Plant, described it as a "cross between a cuckoo clock and an espresso machine", blowing steam and parading model figures when it opened on the hour.

'Natural home'

When the exhibition closed the clock was reassembled in Newport's John Frost Square where it became a visitor attraction.

But its mechanical display was only designed to last for the six months of the exhibition and repair and maintenance costs mounted over the years.

The clock was packed away in 2008 ahead of a planned development of the city centre but the recession scuppered the plans leaving the structure homeless.

By the time it was dismantled, the mechanisms had begun to fail and a report in November 2011 suggested it would cost £59,000 to restore the clock to full working order.

The city's street scene overview and scrutiny forum has been given permission to accept an offer of £10,000 from developers St Modwen to put the clock's basic structure at its 600-acre (240 hectare) Glan Llyn development.

It will be rebuilt on the roundabout at the gateway to development of 4,000 homes and a business park on part of the former Llanwern steelworks site.

The forum said the moved would return the clock to "its most natural home, a steel regeneration project in Newport, after it was originally commissioned to enhance a steel-related regeneration project in Ebbw Vale".

The developers will meet the cost of setting up the clock on the roundabout.

In a statement, Newport council said: "Many options for the future of the clock have since been considered by the council and there has been much public support to reinstate it within the city.

"This would not only return the clock to public display and secure its future, but would also provide an iconic landmark at the entrance to the city's newest community. "

The council estimates it will cost £925 per year to maintain the clock at the site, compared to the £8,000 it pays each year to keep it in storage.

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