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Time standing still in Belfast as landmark Albert Clock stops ticking

By Colin O'Carroll

Published 04/01/2016

Telegraph photographer Kevin Scott with his phone showing 3.05pm, while the Albert Clock is stuck at 11.21
Telegraph photographer Kevin Scott with his phone showing 3.05pm, while the Albert Clock is stuck at 11.21

Like that old Belfast saying, it's got a face like a stopped clock.

Well, four faces to be precise.

The city's very own leaning tower, the Albert Clock at the bottom of High Street at Queen's Square, has stopped ticking.

It's believed the landmark ceased to keep time over the weekend, but it's not clear exactly when the hands stopped moving or why.

They are halted at 11.21, but no one seems to know which 11.21 that was.

The tower leans around four feet off the perpendicular as the land in the area is reclaimed from the River Farset and it is largely supported by wooden piles sunk into the marshy ground. This made it famous as Belfast's answer to the leaning tower of Pisa.

The historic clock was restored and cleaned in a multi-million pound project completed in 2002.

Damaged stonework was replaced and the tower was underpinned to stop it leaning any further.

The 113ft Gothic-style sandstone clock was erected in memory of Queen Victoria's consort Prince Albert, whom she mourned from his death until her own.

It was designed by WJ Barre, who also designed Belfast's Ulster Hall.

A two-tonne bell is housed in the tower and the clock mechanism was made by Francis Moore of High Street in the city.

It took four years to build and was completed in 1869 and features a statue of Prince Albert dressed as a Knight of the Garter, as well as ornately carved crowned lions and floral decorations.

The tower was also a focal point for New Year's Eve celebrations for more than a century.

It was damaged in an IRA bomb outside nearby River House in High Street in January 1992, and also suffered scars from German bombs in the Second World War.

Being situated close to the docks, the tower was once infamous for being frequented by prostitutes plying their trade with visiting sailors.

The clock has featured in tourist literature and films and is as much a recognised feature of Belfast as the City Hall, Stormont and the shipyard cranes.

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