RECITE II within the project IDC-MEDICI
Seminar on “Transmission of experiences on protection of Public Clocks”
– MEDICI = Ingénierie Du Clocher – Maintien des Emplois
De l’Ingénierie du Clocher et de ses Industries
(Church Tower and Steeple Engineering – Sustained Employement for Bell Towers
Engineers and related Industries)
RECITE = Régions & Cités d’Europe (Regions and Cities of Europe)
Introduction (please also refer to the report on the 2nd seminar – July
3rd seminar took place on 14th, 15th and 16th January 2002 under the auspices of
Alain Jouffray, campanologist, director of the I.E.A.C. (Institut Européen
d'Art Campanaire: European Bell Institute) and IDC-MEDICI project manager. The
participants gathered at the ‘Vincent Auriol’ Training Institute in Muret (Toulouse
31) where Michel Périssas, clock restorer and a teacher in clockwork techniques
there, organised the event.
the experimental projects of RECITE, the European Commission has the following
to promote mutual
collaboration between European regions by transmission of knowledge.
to strengthen the social and
economical structures of these regions.
the IDC-MEDICI project of the I.E.A.C, set up by Alain Jouffray a few years ago,
the RECITE II project deals with the preservation of European bell towers
together with their furniture.
to the European conditions, at least 3 other European countries must take part
in this project, namely Italy, Greece and Belgium.
the I.E.A.C, partners in these countries are notably important bell foundries
and suppliers of electronic installations namely:
bell foundry, Sevrier, France
Rethymnon, Crete, Greece
bell foundry, Agnone ,Italy
electronic clock & carillon installations, Holsbeek, Belgium (recently
crossed off the participants’ list).
principle, the cycle of 3 seminars had been organised for all the persons
interested in the subject of public clocks namely companies mentioned above,
clockmakers, restorers, teachers in clockwork techniques, collectors and the
France was represented at the 1st seminar, but for the 2nd and 3rd seminars,
invitations were also sent out to the relevant people in the Netherlands,
Belgium, England and Germany in order to enable them to take part.
the 3rd and last seminar, non-French speakers, benefited from the
services of an interpreter for English and German.
was not specified that this Dutch interpreter could also help her fellow
the invitations written in French were only sent out a few weeks before the
dates set for the seminar, very few participants from abroad were able to make
themselves available for participation in the seminar.
the 2nd seminar, in which approximately 25 people took part, Belgium
was represented by the collector Jacques Renders and the Netherlands by both
Johannes Wijbenga (a teacher in clockwork techniques) and myself (a clock
3rd seminar saw approximately the same number of participants. Coming from
abroad there were Mr. Kostas Giapitsoglou, a Greek archaeologist and manager of
the Recite Program in Greece, the restorer Steven Ball from the USA and myself
for the Netherlands.
origin of the participants to this cycle demonstrates that this seminar cannot
be considered as being representative of Europe.
mechanical turret clock within the program RECITE
within the RECITE II programs, set up by Alain Jouffray, deal with the
safeguarding of bell towers and their furniture, like bells, carillons, clocks,
dials and weather cocks.
these 3 seminars, the turret clock was placed central to all discussions with
activity focusing on how to best improve the conditions or environment in which
the clocks currently reside. The attempt was made to focus the discussion around
The drafting of European regulations regarding the norms and conditions,
to which the restorations of turret
clocks would have to comply, finally resulting in forming training courses for
turret clock restorers.
The wish to do a very clear inventory of all public mechanical clocks
that may be present in more than 70,000 communes in Europe.
of the 3rd and last Seminar
first topic mentioned above was no longer on the agenda for these three days.
far as the 2nd topic was concerned, we discussed their concept of a
Monumental Bell Towers in its Entirety’ (Towers, Bells, Clocks, Weather Cocks
etc), which will be sent to 70,000 European communes. This Guide is destined to
make the people with responsibilities in the communes aware of what could be
found in their bell towers and should spur the officials on to take care of it
and implement its restoration and/or maintenance.
the discussions focused on Turret Clocks, proposals were made to create this
Guide on a CD-Rom. This would allow the identification of existing clocks (or
parts of clocks) on a photographic medium.
foreign participants insisted on the fact that the CD-Rom must be designed in
several languages with, for each country, the emphasis put on its specific
situation and on pictures of its traditional clocks.
I.E.A.C. will also ask the communes to fill in the attached questionnaire about
the identified clocks and to return it preferably with pictures.
perspective of a subsidy to contribute towards the cost of the restoration could
give these communes the incentive to fill in the form. To the question, whether
or not there are existing European subsidy measures, there came no answer.
idea to publish all the data on the Internet site of the I.E.A.C. was strongly
proves the necessity to deal with a European protection first, in order to avoid
access to ill-intentioned people interested by purchasing, salvaging or even
Jouffray noted that the IEAC would not be in a position to deal with such a
quantity of files for a really official inventory. It has therefore not been
suggested what will happen to these files and who would deal with them.
were asked to comment on this project once finished. Some offered their help and
they will receive the CD-Rom for review when it is ready.
goal is for the CD-Rom to be ready for despatch before the close of the Recite
II project in July 2002.
of the 2nd day
Buron, in his position as Curator of Antiques and Objets d’Art of Eure et
Loire, told us about a French law from 1905, which controls at regional level,
the objects situated in churches. According to that law, an inventory of the
religious relics of a church must be made and the objects must be kept there. He
put forward the idea to have the same approach for clocks and bells in order to
avoid their loss.
representative of Clock Care Ltd., I was asked to explain and comment on the
working of the Clock Care System. Controlled via computer it winds the weights
of the turret clocks by the means of compressed air and also regulates the
function of the clockworks itself in keeping precise time. The most important
particularity of this application is the fact that the Clock Care System does
not change or interfere with any aspect of the historic mechanism and by this
means guarding its authenticity.
Clock Care System is designed for all types of turret clocks and it can be used
in all situations, in the original Clock Towers as well as freely in the
confined space of an exhibition. The questions asked enabled me to go into the
details of its working.
Bourreau was also asked to present his propulsion system for turret clocks
controlled by computer.
this system the motor weights are put aside. The escape wheel is no longer
driven by a weight via the gear train, but conversely the escape wheel drives
the gear train by an electrical step motor. Similarly, the fly of the striking
part is no longer driven by a weight via the gear train but the fly drives the
gear train by a step motor.
position and the way of assembling of the electrical step motor depends on the
way each clock is individually constructed. In this manner Michel Bourreau aims
for the reduction of wear of the gear train and enables the clocks to function
in situations where they should not work ordinarily.
Jouffray informed us that the I.E.A.C. would purchase both systems for turret
clocks that will then be exhibited at the Institute in July 2002. These will
show different methods of turret clock automation allowing them to carry on
working without having to be wound or adjusted.
conclude, we spent the rest of the day amongst some interesting turret clocks
exhibited on the premises of the ‘Vincent Auriol’ Institute.
moments like these, clocks themselves are the centre of interest of the
discussions and speculations concerning their past with the implementation of
repairs and if any modifications are appropriate. Enthusiastic ideas then emerge
between clock friends and appointments were made for contacts in the future.
time, the program did not comprise any excursion but on 15th January we had the
possibility to visit a pilot project carried out in Villeneuve Tolosane.
with enthusiasm after the recommendations of Alain Jouffray, we were all the
more disappointed by the final result of this Pilot Project.
church and its steeple have been entirely renovated and fitted partially with
new bells and all electronic equipment.
old turret clock is restored and located in a room of the town hall amongst the
church’s relics and other religious artefacts. It is not, however, in a
working order and obviously not in its original steeple. Clock-o-Matic’s
electronic installation shows the time outside with electrically striking the
hours, sounding bells for melodies or ring these for services.
after climbing to the top of the steeple, we noticed that several bells could
not work for they had been installed on a temporary base with inadequate
materials. In other places, the newly installed and incorrectly fitted mechanism
was already broken.
the discussion, which took place after the visit, it was not clearly explained
how such a rough and ready result could have happened after so much planning and
what I understand, the I.E.A.C.’s main role is only advisory.
commune, as owner of the belfry, financed most of the project with the support
of the inhabitants and local sponsors from the industrial and private sectors.
The commune was therefore the decision-maker concerning ‘restorers’ and it
had the possibility to take the advice into account or not.
pilot project, as an example for the future of bell towers in Europe, make us
realise that long, still, is the way to a positive influence on the quality of
the final result.
Recite II Program will come to a close in July 2002 and the CD-Rom must be
despatched to the 70,000 European communes.
the scale of the work still to be done and releasing it in different languages,
I doubt the final goal will be achieved within this deadline.
profoundly regret that this Seminar is the last one of this Cycle. We,
participants, will no longer be able to contribute to the final completion of
the Guide is destined to all European communes, a lot more European
countries should have been involved in this project in order to be able to talk
of a European project.
various European countries, similar initiatives have been developed at national
level. The ones brought to my knowledge are as follows:
in the Netherlands: de Rijksdienst voor de Monumentenzorg en de
Stichting tot Behoud van het Torenuurwerk (Protection and Conservation of
National Heritage and the Foundation for the Conservation of Turret Clocks.)
in England: Council for the Care of Churches and the Antiquarian
the Deutsches Zentrum für Denkmalpflege and de Fachkreis Turmuhren der Deutsche
Gesellschaft für Chronometrie. (German Centre for the Conservation of National Heritage and the Clock
Tower Trade of the German Society of Chronometry)
in Poland: the “Clock Museum”
several other countries the preoccupation for the safeguard and inventory of
steeples and their turret clocks exist. This is translated by an ever more
important awareness by the relevant institutions and the public.
extension of the Recite II Program prolonging this Cycle by several seminars is
desirable together with the increase of participating countries.
this seminar the CD-Rom mentioned can be completed then together with European
representatives with adaptations from material specific to their countries.
is a proven fact that such a Guide, if published incompletely will hardly be
carried out a second time.
the I.E.A.C’s initiative (protection of clock towers in Europe) could not be
pursued within Recite II, another means must be set up for this initiative, for
it is of great interest.
could take place, if need be elsewhere in Europe, as a symposium for people of
the trade, allied professionals, organizations and people interested in turret
clocks all over Europe.
European panel of this kind would give the opportunity to compare and adapt the
mutual results of national initiatives.
is enough work to do in this field, for irreplaceable turret clocks still remain
threatened by amateurism, lack of interest and doubtful commercial motivations.
Spaander Clock restorer
7201 ED Zutphen