AN important part of Fivemiletown’s past has secured a place in the village’s future thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

For 110 years Fivemiletown’s village clock has been a well-known local landmark.

A century ago, before everyone had a watch to synchronise or a mobile phone to swipe, the time piece above the old Petty Sessions building was a focal point in village life and a way of making sure you were on time.

Its finely-wrought copper casing developed that distinctive patina, or verdigris, that comes from weathering, and its hands turned the hours faithfully, driven by the mechanism that was wound from inside the Petty Sessions building.

But as the years ticked by, it gradually fell into disrepair and eventually stopped working altogether. A restoration project initiated last year by Fivemiletown Chamber of Commerce will now see the clock restored to its former glory.

Work on the project is due to start shortly.

At a public awareness meeting in January, the Project Manager, Mr. Michael Callaghan, outlined the plans for the restoration project to an audience of interested townspeople, local politicians and other public representatives.

He explained that while the cost would be considerable, the people of Fivemiletown were keen to see the clock working again, and that the Heritage Lottery Fund had come to the rescue with a grant of £18,400 to cover the specialist restoration work, consultancy fees, publicity, and the production of educational resource materials.

At the time of the clock’s initial installation, a local copper-working class was thriving in the area.

Mrs. Mary Montgomery of the local Blessingbourne Estate, set up the class in 1891 through the Home Arts and Industries Association and initially taught the class herself in the Petty Sessions building.

To begin with, they made items such as candlesticks, tea trays, fenders for fireplaces and newspaper racks.

But this was no amateur evening class! These artisan workers became so successful that their work was exhibited at exhibitions in the Albert Hall in London in 1893, at the St. Louis World Fair in 1904 and at the Dublin International Fair in 1907. In 1911, the most skilled craftsman of the group, Patrick Roche, assisted by Samuel Carruth, made two silver rose bowls which were presented to the the Lord Primate of the Church of Ireland. Pieces of work were bought by members of the Royal Family, including Queen Victoria.

It was these skilled craftsmen who made the copper casing of the clock, which was erected in 1903 to commemorate the coronation in 1902 of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra.

The mechanical works of the clock were made by Sharman D. Neill of Belfast and it is thought that the iron scroll-work was completed by Harland and Wolff. Another iconic feature of the era, the Clogher Valley Railway, was used to transport the raw materials and the finished artefacts.

Today, interest in Fivemiletown’s past is growing.

So much so that Mrs. Florence Brunt and a group of volunteers intend to use this opportunity to involve the community in further local history research over the course of the next few months.

Young people in the area area also set to benefit from the Lottery funding.

A percentage of the money will be spent on developing educational materials in collaboration with the two local primary schools, to be used by them to explore the history of their area and to support their annual joint local history project.

They have already constructed their own 21st century ‘village clock’ as part of their project for this year.

Now much more than just a timepiece, Fivemiletown’s village clock is one of the few reminders of a byegone era which have survived to the present day.

The restoration project is estimated to be completed by late autumn of this year and the Chamber of Commerce is planning to mark the occasion in style.

In the meantime members are asking anyone with any information or old photographs on the history of the clock and the village itself to contact them.

You can get in touch at or follow the progress of the project on Facebook.

The next public meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, April 30 at 7.30 pm in the Valley Hotel and anyone who is interested is invited to attend.