For details on how to contact our editorial and commercial departments, click here
Newton Aycliffe's iconic clock will chime on
RESIDENTS who feared an iconic clock tower would lose its prominence following a £2m makeover of their town centre are delighted the landmark will remain in its present location.
Plans submitted to Durham County Council for the demolition of Churchill House in Newton Aycliffe reveal the retention of the attached clock tower is “key” to the new look, open plan town centre.
For more than half a century, the day-to-day business of residents and shoppers in the town centre has been punctuated by the distinctive chimes of the clock tower.
Towering above its surrounding buildings, the clock dominates the skyline and has become a symbol for the town.
And when news broke that Newton Aycliffe could lose its landmark when the Churchill Building is demolished, townsfolk past and present voiced their dismay on social media.
In February, Freshwater, the company that owns Aycliffe Shopping Centre, assured residents the clock would not be destroyed but many feared it would lose its prominence in the newly refurbished town centre.
However, in the plans, which were submitted at the end of last month, the clock tower is described as “a well-liked architectural feature” that will be retained as a key feature.
Referring to recent structural investigations, the design access statement reads: “The demolition of the buildings will be achievable as independent structures meaning there is no risk to the structural integrity of the clock tower or the other adjacent buildings.”
Brickwork from Churchill House and the adjoining retail units will be reclaimed to make good the side of the tower exposed during the demolition and the head of the tower, which holds the bells and the clock faces, will be refurbished.
Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson and Councillor Barbara Clare, mayor of Great Aycliffe, welcomed the news.
“I think it is wonderful news,” said Coun Clare. “I remember reading all the comments on Facebook earlier this year and it is clear how much the clock tower means to the people of Newton Aycliife.”
Sandra Ibinson, who was shopping in the town centre today (Friday, September 6) and has lived in Newton Aycliffe for 32 years, expressed a similar view: “It is a familiar sight and we have become quite fond of it. I am pleased it is staying where it is.”
The £2m revamp of the town centre is scheduled for completion in early November.
Comments are closed on this article.