The Ċittadella clock in Rabat, Gozo, has been in silence for some time as its 250 year old clock mechanism had to be dismantled and is being restored in a Gozo workshop. It is expected the mechanism will be back in its place in August and will once more show the time and chime the quarter hours.
Many Rabat residents have been asking questions about the clock.
Despite this technological era, for many Gozitans, particularly those resident in the clock’s vicinity and those visiting the area regularly, the clock holds much significance! The Ċittadella clock chimes the quarters and the hour and is a continual guideline to everyday life.
At the beginning of January the clock was dismantled from the bastion San Mikiel tower to undergo restoration and is currently in the workshop of clock restorers Ċelestina and Oliver Sciberras.
As inscribed on the mechanism, the clock was assembled by one Giuseppe Muscat in 1774. Ċelestina Sciberras explained that for the clock to tick and the quarters to be chimed, it has to be wound up every day.
She said the cock’s wind mechanism descends into a shaft as if into a deep well and these have to be raised every day and be put in place. Ċelestina said the mechanism was in dire need of repair.
She said when they first started working on it she remained surprised how it had managed to continue functioning. Large amounts of grease had been used and much weight added to keep it in function but these in fact had caused a lot of damages.
Ċelestina also explained that parts of the mechanism had dislodged, the material softened and the gear teeth had been eaten away.
This includes the deterioration of the pinions and distorted lengths which caused variances of 3mm and 4mm, which for a clock is a lot.
Oliver Sciberras aid where possible the original material is to be retained although some of the parts deteriorated by time have to be replaced.
The gear teeth have been badly damaged and backups had to be reconstructed to override those that are still functioning.
Paint on the metal which was used in the past during repairs has to be scraped off.
The restoration is expected to be completed by August. The project is being financed by the Gozo Ministry in consultation with the Superintendance for Cultural Heritage.