SINCE 1760, a clock has looked down on the town of Darlington from the spire of St Cuthbert’s Church, but now the clockface needs nearly £30,000 of repairs – the numbers of the east side looking up towards the station are on the slide.

The Friends of the church begin their efforts to raise the money next Thursday evening, with a talk by The Northern Echo’s Chris Lloyd entitled A Brief History of Time, which will be about the clock and other curious timepieces to be found in the church.

The current clock dates from 1909, and is a Potts clock. In fact, if you have ever looked at a public clock in the North-East, the likelihood is that it is a Potts clock, made by a firm founded by William Potts. He was born in Bondgate in 1809, was apprenticed to a clockmaker on High Row, but when his apprenticeship finished, he had to move away so that he wasn’t in direct competition with his master.

He settled in Leeds, and started making clock to go in turrets, steeples, spires, factories and railway stations. The first one he built outside the West Riding was in St Mary’s Church, Gainford, in 1862; the last clock a member of the Potts family personally built was for Shincliffe church in 1962.

Inbetween, there were Potts clocks for Darlington town clock (1864), Loftus church (1870) and town hall (1880), Skelton (1883), Scarborough station (1883), Staindrop post office (1883), Northallerton church (1885), Sunderland central station (1885), Aldborough St John (1897) plus there are Potts clocks in churches at Staindrop, Stanhope, Crook, Etherley, High Coniscliffe and Sadberge, plus there are Potts war memorial clocks in the institutes of Frosterley, Wearhead and Westgate. This is just a potted list of Potts clocks – they are everywhere, and the William Potts Memorial Clock is in Darlington’s South Park.

On Thursday evening, the Friends’ agm starts at 7pm for 20 minutes, and the talk starts at 7.30pm. It costs £5, to include refreshments, with proceeds going to the clock fund. All are welcome. For further information, call 01325-487274.