A FREEMAN of the town of Redcar has launched an appeal to restore a vandalised landmark clock.

Vera Robinson wants 10,000 of the resort's residents to dig into their pockets to match the generosity of their Victorian forbears, who created the Grade Two listed King Edward VII clock through public subscription.

Vandals broke into the tower and damaged the arms that link the motor to the dials on the face of the clock in December 1998. Workers were unable to attempt repairs because of the tower's unsafe interior.

A report from Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council's safety officer warned the tower should remain out of bounds until safety work was undertaken because the tower was open to the elements and pigeons, which have left extensive droppings.

Mrs Robinson, who has founded The Friends of Redcar Town Clock, said: "Everyone in the town sees the clock as a real landmark, a focal point and it's such a shame that it isn't working. We want the public to help towards our ultimate ambition - and that's to see the clock in proper working order as soon as possible."

The council's concerns are the spiralling costs of repairing both the clock mechanism and the building itself, with the current estimate topping £100,000.

Mrs Robinson made her comments as a major public appeal was launched on the 90th anniversary of the clock, on Wednesday. Borough Mayor Coun Eric Jackson bought the first £1 subscription ticket.

Council leader David Walsh said: "The present day problem isn't easy to solve, nor to fund, but we would certainly seek to match pound for pound the generosity shown to Vera's campaign."

The £1 tickets are available at a number of High Street shops and businesses in Redcar, the library and throughout next week, the Morrisons superstore.

Vera Baird, the town's MP, is patron of the appeal.