Work has started to refurbish the exterior of the Timeball Tower. The rear courtyard has been paved and proper drainage installed. This should alleviate flooding and damp penetration in the rear ground floor.
Scaffolding was erected in the first week of August. This is to facilitate the mast replacement and roof repairs. The newly fabricated mast was sent to Gillett & Johnston in mid-Julyht ago to fit the moving parts which to connect to the raising/lowering mechanism. It is not expected to be ready for a few weeks. We hope that the new mast will be in place by early September. The whole mast replacement costs are in the region of £60K.
Whilst the scaffolding is erected work will be undertaken to re-slate and repair the roof. Essential exterior and some internal damp reduction measures will also be put in place. When further funding is available a comprehensive restoration of the exterior of the tower will be undertaken. The building is 201 years old and is showing its age.
Accordingly, the Timeball will not open this summer season.
However, we do plan that we open for the week of the October school half term (Saturday 23rd October to Sunday 31st October). Our next important event would be to open New Years Eve & Day. The New Year’s eve drop will have commentary to celebrate the 167th anniversary of the first Timeball drop.
Our income has been severely impacted due to the pandemic closure.
The Deal Museum Trust are seeking to raise funds to replace our lost revenue and assist our landlord, Dover District Council, to cover some of the costs of the replacement of the Timeball mast. We are looking to raise £10K. For details of hown to make a donation please see our website - www.dealtimeball.co.uk OR our Facebook page - Deal Timeball Tower.
The situation today is that a new mast, constructed in mild steel, is being manufactured in Deal. After manufacture, it has to be sent to Gillett & Johnston, Clockmakers, to install various moving parts and set the Timeball mechanism to work. We are hopeful this should be completed by the end of next month. Once we are past the mast replacement state, the TBT will remain completely scaffolded, ready to start work on the outside.
A full survey has been carried out on the 201 year old building which has highlighted that damp is trapped between the external rendering and internal plastering. Both the materials used in the past are totally unsuitable. The present plan is to remove the external rendering and some of the internal plasterwork to get the building to breathe and get to the worst areas of damp. Other measures will be put in place to increase internal ventilation especially out of season. It may be that the render is not replaced but left to breathe and depending on the state of the brickwork, left bare.
There is a long list of defects but the key items are to replace the mast, cure any roof leaks and make a start on solving the damp issues. The courtyard at the back will be worked on to remove one of the sources of damp. At present, we plan to open in mid-August. We should be able to open with the scaffolding up but not before the ball has been set to work and the upper floor internal scaffolding removed.
We are very keen to open this season even for a brief period. We are committed (tbc) to participate in Heritage Open Day on Saturday 18th September. Our next important key event is the New Year Timeball Drop.