Time for historic clock to return home?

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It was less of a ding-dong battle and more of a tick-tock tussle; for years, visitors to Cambridge’s historic market place had a choice of two public clocks from which to tell the time.

There was the Guildhall clock, and the Wehrle town clock, which was mounted outside the family watchmaker and jewellers of the same name, at the Market Hill premises now occupied by clothing outlet Gap.

The Wehrle clock has returned to Cambridge twice since it was first removed in 1970; and almost left the UK for good in 2009.

Now the clock is on the market again, as the star lot at Moore Allen & Innocent’s auction of antiques in Cirencester on Friday, November 9.

Auctioneer Philip Allwood explained: “The Wehrle clock was a permanent fixture from 1883 until 1970, when the family business closed its doors for the final time. It was bought for £75 and taken by a private collector to Lincolnshire.

“In the 1980s it found itself in the possession of an antiques dealer from Saffron Walden in Essex, and it was thanks to the dealer than the clock returned home for the first time.

“In 1986, he sold it to the partners of Winter Wilkinson solicitors, who had moved into first floor offices at the former Wehrle premises. But when the law firm moved to Huntingdon in the 1990s, the clock went with them.

“More recently the clock popped up at Cheffins auction house in Cambridge, where a local bidder fought off an American rival to ensure the clock stayed on British shores.

“Now, three years later, it’s back on the market again. We’re anticipating interest from Cambridge, but the clock would look just as good in one of the Cotswolds’ historic market places.”

A bid of £600 to £800 should secure the timepiece, which measures 107cm (three and a half feet) wide, and is designed to be attached to a wall with a bracket, the original of which forms part of the lot.

For a full auction catalogue, log on to www.mooreallen.co.uk

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