Tarmac returns historic Victorian ‘timekeeping clock’ to Carmarthenshire village

February 27, 2019

A Victorian clock once used for timekeeping by workers at the now closed Cilyrychen lime quarry has been handed back to the Carmarthenshire village of Llandybie (near Ammanford) by Tarmac.

Viewed as an innovation when first installed in the 1870s, the newly restored clock has been housed in an observatory-style building constructed specially to commemorate the village’s industrial heritage.

The new glass structure containing the clock, attached to a building used byLlandybie Old  Age Pensioners Association, has been officially opened at a special ceremony attended by representatives of Llandybie Community Council, Tarmac, the UK’s leading sustainable building materials and construction solutions business and Jonathan Edwards MP.

Tarmac apprentice Steffan Lewis, 20, who is based at nearby Torcoed quarry has also constructed a display featuring the history of the clock for visitors to the new heritage site.

The historic clock, which had been moved to Tarmac’s Syston office following the closure of the quarry in 2002, was commissioned in 1872 by quarry owner, architect and artist, Richard Kyrke Penson, from leading clockmaker, J B Joyce of Whitchurch, Shropshire.

The landmark timepiece was considered revolutionary in its day for a country area such as Llandybie, at a time when rural workers were more used to keeping time by the ringing of bells and by following the agricultural season. The clock was originally installed in a tower in Penson’s home, Pantyrodin, a building which later became the quarry’s head office.

Councillor Mrs Karen Davies, the Chair of Llandybie Community Council, said: “The Council is delighted to have been able to help return the Cilyrychen Clock to the community. The lime firms at Cilyrychen are such an important part of the history of Llandybie, and to now have the clock as a focal point of the village, positioned close to to the Pen-yr-Eithin coal dram, is a great reminder of the industrial heritage of the area. We are very grateful to Tarmac for the very generous offer of returning the clock which will undoubtedly serve as a reminder to future generations of the local industry.”

Simon Lewis, area commercial manager for Tarmac, added: “We’re delighted to have returned the newly restored timepiece, and have great pleasure in being able to present this important timepiece, once considered a real innovation in its day, back to its rightful home after so many years away from the village. It is a great reminder of the village’s rich industrial heritage, something that the people of Llandybie can be justly proud of.”

Image Credit: Left to right – Mansel Charles, Karen Davies, Simon Lewis and Jonathan Edwards MP. at the opening of the clock