1. ITV Report

Time called on winding of church clock

An 82-year-old volunteer who's been winding a church in Essex since 1966 has been told he has to stop because of health and safety fears. Photo: ITV Anglia

A volunteer who's been winding the clock at a church in Essex since 1966 has been told he can no longer do so because of health and safety fears.

82-year-old Tom Monk has to climb up a stepladder to do the winding but St Nicolas Church in Witham is worried he might fall so have asked him to stop until they can invest in another winding mechanism.

Every week, for almost half a century, Tom Monk has wound the clock of St Nicolas Church in Witham by hand. The 82-year-old has to climb a wooden stepladder to reach the winder, which he then turns 400 times. Over the years he reckons he's completed 900,000 turns in total.

Despite Tom never having had an accident, the church has decided that climbing the ladder is health risk.

The church clock at Witham in Essex has been wound by hand by Tom Monk since 1966. Credit: ITV Anglia

"It's a peculiar thing because I've been doing it for 45 years, something like that, you just don't consider it to be dangerous. When you're told about it - it is really or it could be anyway."

– Tom Monk, Clock Winder
The Reverend Sally Lodge says the church is concerned about safety. Credit: ITV Anglia

"It's a rickety six-step stepladder. Even if it wasn't rickety it would still be quite a large climb. It's a fairly big stepladder, it's a heavy instrument he uses to wind the clock and I'd be concerned, not just for Tom, but for anybody who was going to take on that role."

– The Reverend Sally Lodge, St Nicolas Church
The clock at St Nicolas Church in Witham, Essex will be at a standstill until a new winding mechanism is fitted Credit: ITV Anglia

For now, the clock has stopped. But not for long - the church is trying to raise £4,500 for a mechanism to hand-wind it from the ground.

Tom is planning to carry on in the church as a bell-ringer. He's not ruling out an eventual return to his job but this time his feet will have to stay on the ground.