The clock installed at All Saints Oakham is the third generation of a series of movements to have featured at the church, with the first dating back to around 1684, and was supplied and installed by Frederick Dent of London in 1858 as part of a general refurbishment programme of the church. This three train, flatbed clock was installed with two new skeleton dials and features the quarter chimes of Great St Mary’s Cambridge (more commonly known as the ‘Westminster Chimes’).
Amongst Horologists this particular clock is regarded as ‘The Rolls Royce’ of movements, primarily because it was made by Frederick Dent, who was regarded as the finest clock maker during the 19th Century in Great Britain for their precision, accuracy and high quality engineering. What is not commonly known is that this particular clock was being engineered and built in their workshops at the same time as another movement to be later installed as the Great Clock of the Palace of Westminster in London (often referred to as Big Ben!).
At the time, Sir Edmund Beckett Denison – Lord Grimthorpe, was technical adviser to Frederick Dent and much of the inventive work he carried out on this and several other similar movements were later incorporated into the final design of the Great Clock – thus making All Saints Oakham’s clock one of a series of ‘prototypes’ not only to the world renowned Big Ben, but to represent a new standard for all high quality turret clocks ever since.
At the time of installation, the clock cost an eye-watering £120 (approximately £13,000 in today’s money!) funded through a combination of donations and subscriptions and whilst some 158 years have elapsed the movement has largely avoided any major work needed to maintain its function other than regular servicing.
Unfortunately at 158 years old the clock is starting to show its age. The repetitive nature of hand winding the three heavy train weights every 48 hours to keep the clock running is now putting wear on the movement. From expert inspection we have been advised that the clock should now have its winding mechanism automated, and an appeal was launched in May 2016 to restore and upgrade the clock.