Vandal smashes Cambridge's gold Corpus Christi 'grasshopper' clock in hammer attack

Damage to the Corpus Christi clock in Cambridge.
Credit: ITV News Anglia
The glass casing was smashed with a hammer, said police. Credit: ITV News Anglia

The famous Corpus Clock in Cambridge - one of the city's most popular tourist sights - has been damaged in a hammer attack, said police.

The timepiece in King's Parade was damaged on Saturday night at around 8.45pm.

Police said people reported seeing a man, wearing dark clothing and armed with a hammer, running away from the scene after cracking the glass covering.

The clock was created by Corpus Christi alumnus and honorary fellow Dr John C Taylor OBE, and installed in 2008.

Also known as the Grasshopper Clock, the 24-carat gold timepiece featuring a mechanical insect, has become one of the city's most popular attractions.

Hammer blows smashed the glass case of the clock. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Prof Ewan St John Smith, custodian of the Chronophage, said: "The college is saddened that the glass case housing the iconic Corpus Chronophage Clock was damaged on Sunday.

"The police are investigating the matter and we will repair the damage as soon as possible."

Cambridgeshire Police said: "We were called at 8.45pm on Saturday with reports a man with a hammer had attempted to damage the Corpus Christi clock in King’s Parade.

"The man, who was wearing dark clothing, ran away from the scene after causing damage to the protective glass covering the clock.

"Officers attended the scene but could not locate the suspect.

"We are in contact with the university and an investigation is ongoing. No arrests have yet been made."

Anyone with information is urged to contact police via their web chat service or online forms at quoting 35/16857/23.

Stephen Hawking at the unveiling of the Corpus Clock in 2008 Credit: PA

What is the Corpus Clock?

The grasshopper on top of the golden clock, is not actually a grasshopper - but a chronophage, a mythical creature that stalks clocks and eats time.

The mouth of the insect opens at 30 seconds past each minute, snapping shut when the minute is over.

It is an example of the "grasshopper escapement mechanism" invented in the 1700s by John Harrison. The clock has 50 "tricks" - special sets reserved for just four days of the year: John Harrison's birthday (25 March), inventor John Taylor's birthday (25 November), New Year's Day and Corpus Christi Day. 

The Corpus clock is believed to be the largest grasshopper escapement of any clock in the world.

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