The Town Hall clock is to be brought into the 21st century with an electronic upgrade costing £9,000.
The much-loved clock currently has to be wound by hand and has to have the time adjusted in spring and autumn. But all that will be a thing of the past after the work is carried out by a team of specialist contractors from Derby.
The clock will look and sound exactly the same, but its mechanism will be completely different.
Members of the Lystina House Consultative Committee agreed on Friday to go for a full upgrade of the mechanism, which falls short of health and safety standards, rather than a complicated repair which would actually cost more.
In the recommended upgrade, the pendulum and wire will come away and so will the existing hammers – everything will be done by an electronic box. This will keep the correct time and even cope with power cuts thanks to a back-up battery. The strike and chime will be done by electro-magnetic hammers.
According to committee chairman Gussie Angus, the clock was built by an enthusiast and is unique to Shetland, therefore needing specialist contractors to work on it.
Caroline Miller moved that the quotation from Smith of Derby for £8,772 be accepted and for work to start as soon as possible. She was seconded by Allison Duncan, who initially wanted to get another quotation but agreed that it would be a specialist job.
Mrs Miller said: “Nine thousand is not a lot of money and there would be more complaints if we didn’t fix it, it’s part of our heritage.”
Town Hall steward Billy Sandilands said it would save money by not having to be called out after a power cut to adjust the clock and get the bells into sequence.
After the upgrade the clock will keep perfect time. Both Mr Angus and Mr Sandilands said that they often get phone calls telling them that the time is not correct. There was even a complaint once that the first chime was 10 seconds out.
The upgrade will mean that any time can be programmed into the clock’s mechanism, which, Mr Sandilands said, would be attractive for weddings. It will also be possible for the chimes to be disconnected at night.