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Diss Grammar School
Formerly — The Old Dyssean
Society's Website

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The society is no longer in existence but this website
is allied to the Diss Grammar School Facebook group.


Diverse - The Clock  icon clock

Found it - Fixed it - Homed it !

The old school clock has been found, recovered, restored and a new home found for it. All by former pupils working together.
It is in Diss Town Museum.Here's the story:



Nigel with clock


Clock mechanism



Pre Found it (rescue phase I) ...

Phillip Clarke (DGS 1970-1977) via Facebook page on 24th June 2012 says:

"Some of you may recall that after the Causeway (Victoria Road) site closed, Diss Infants School moved to Shelfanger Road for a couple of years (c1985 to c1987) whilst waiting for the Fitzwalter Road site to be extended. At this time, I believe that the old DGS site was called Taylor Hall, and it was still in used as a satellite of the High School. My father (Denis Clarke) was the caretaker for the Infants School for 21 years, so he served at all three of their sites. Whilst he was at Taylor Hall, one of the other caretakers was Sid Sharp. My father tells me that it was Sid who rescued the DGS clock, wrapped it in some old cloths, and took it to the Uplands site. So now you all know how it got there!"

Found it ...

Dennis our founder tells us how the clock was re-found:
At one of the first meeting of Old Dysseans that Dennis set up in a pub in 1998/99 someone mentioned that the school clock was still in existence and was probably at Diss High School.

Ben who was a school governor at the High School did some digging around and sure enough the clock was found.

The High School was reluctant to let the clock out of their hands or sight even, understandably so, but they also did not want to do anything with it. So ....

Recovered it...

Ann tells us how the clock was recovered:
I heard that the clock was at Diss High School. As my job involves contacting and visiting the school, I offered to collect it.

The headmaster at that time refused to let me have the clock, even though it had just been stuck in a cupboard (I think it was dumped there when DGS closed).

Some time after he retired, it was suggested I try again. The new head teacher responded to my email immediately and I picked up the clock earlier this year.

Graham was interested in the clock, and asked if he could take it to show a clockmaker acquaintance to see what could be done. The estimate was for about £2,000-00 out of our reach... But then Nigel said he would be interested in restoring it.

Fixed it...

Nigel, who has been getting the clock working, takes up the story:
Only the grime, hardened oil and so on has been removed, because the exact method of cleaning down to the bare metal depends somewhat in "who does what" and "what comes next" – both out of my hands at present.
Inside the clock
The dial gears (mounted inside the dial) receive drive through the wall at 1 rev/hour for the minute hand and gear down to 1 rev/12 hours for the hour hand.

The adjustment dial allows the clock winder inside the building to adjust the hands outside the building via the square drive. Not really very accurate!

The fusee winding mechanism is supposed to provide constant torque into the escapement as t Winding plate he spring unwinds.

More detailed descriptions of fusee clocks are given here and here. However, I have not managed to find a picture of the exact movement, which makes me wonder if the clock was built specially for the school. The name "J.N. Williams, Diss" is engraved on the plate.

Update 2 Oct 2011 - clock running and keeping reasonable time.

Update 24th June 2012 - the clock is now fully cleaned and ready for re-assembly but the brass needs some preservation product application. Nigel would like some 'advice' on this should anyone have expertise in this area. You can pass on your help via the feedback page.

Update 23rd Jan 2013 - the clock now has a feed-through rod to allow the rotation to be fed through a wall from the movement to the dial The new replica hands are being prepared for painting but where will its permanent resting place in Diss be?

The Clock Maker, info thanks to Mark Robinson and Paul Noble.
(info obtained by asking on Mark Robinson's 'Diss Grammar School' Facebook group)

According to the 1911 census - there was a James Newton Williams (Watchmaker and Jewellery Shop Keeper) aged 57, living in Crown Street, Diss with his wife Annie Mary Williams (47) and Son Frank Newton Williams (19). He had 9 rooms in the property and James was born in Kensington, London.

In 1901, the family were living in Hammersmith, with their other son Harry (7 in 1901) and James's mother Deborah. So they came to Diss post-1901 (and pre-1908 if that's when the clock was dated)

Crown street was the name of the road from the Crown Inn to where St Nicholas Street and Pump Hill (Market Hill) divide, now all called St Nicholas Street.

Homed it...

Well what I mean is, a home has been found for it at last. After negotiating with Diss Town Council for The Corn Hall then The Youth Centre it has finally come to rest in Diss Town Museum.

A copy of the maintenance and care document for the clock produced by Nigel Barber and can be below. It is a PDF format file and your browser should open it automatically for you.

A Big Thanks ...

Thanks to:

  • Sid for saving it,
  • Ben for finding where it was again,
  • Ann for recovering it

    and so very, very much to ...
  • Nigel for the hours of work spent on restoration and finding a home for it.


There's more information about the clock's restoration in issue 26, March 2013, of The Old Dyssean.


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"Initium Sapientiae Timor Domini"
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