New lease on life for historic Alyth Kirk clock

John Smith of Alyth Parish Church with the historic Vulliamy clock mechanism
John Smith of Alyth Parish Church with the historic Vulliamy clock mechanism

Alyth Parish Church’s venerable clock is getting a new lease on life thanks in part to grants from Alyth Develoment Trust.

The clock chimes have been telling Alyth folk the time for almost 200 years apart from a few brief silences, most recently during the COVID lockdown.  Last year, the Kirk’s fabric committee decided to automate the clock’s winding mechanism and brought in specialists from the Cumbria Clock Company to advise on the best way of doing it.

They immediately recognised the clock as a rare and historic example of the work of Benjamin Lewis Vulliamy, clockmaker to Queen Victoria.  Alyth’s clock is one of only two in Scotland known to have been made by Benjamin, was one of the best clockmakers of his time –extremely well regarded in the horological world and a second generation master clockmaker.

He was five times master of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers, and clockmaker to King William IV then Queen Victoria, making many of the internal clocks in Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Kensington Palace, Clarence House and Brighton Pavilion and many of the other palaces that the royals use, as well as many of the internal clocks in the Houses of Parliament at Westminster. 

Alyth’s clock was made and installed in 1840, by which time Benjamin was a renowned master craftsman having already designed and fitted the clocks in the Royal Palaces. The bell in Alyth’s tower would have been supplied by him at the same time as the clock; it was cast by the Mears Foundry, who cast Big Ben for the Houses of Parliament.  

No-one knows how Alyth came to have a clock of this quality and expense, made to Vulliamy’s exacting standards.  The Cumbria Clock Company discovered that the clock has very little wear even after 183 years of service, and with automation should have at least another 183 years in it.

John Smith, Kirk Fabric Convener, said:  “Many of the local community had commented on missing the striking of the bell, and we wanted to bring the 180-year tradition back to Alyth.  After the work is done, the local community will be able to continue to see the time on the clock and again be able to hear the bell striking on the hour.

“The clock itself only requires a light servicing since it was made to such high standards, but this project will fit a new mechanism for automatic winding and to allow the chimes to be silenced over night – something the old mechanism didn’t allow.

“We’re pleased to be able to bring back the historic chimes to Alyth, and delighted to have found out that the town possesses such a rare and fine piece of clock engineering.”

The project is costing around £12,000.  The Kirk has already secured a grant of £3,000 from Perth & Kinross Heritage Trust and is seeking grants from other sources.  ADT is contributing £2,000 from its Community Projects Fund and will cover half of any shortfall from its strategic funds, with the other half coming from the Kirk’s own reserves.

Find out more about Benjamin Vulliamy here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Lewis_Vulliamy

ADT’s Community Projects Fund distributes the community benefit funds provided for Alyth by the operators of the Tullymurdoch Windfarm, some five miles north of the town.  Applications to the fund are judged by an independent panel of volunteers drawn from across the community.  Apply at https://lovealyth.org.uk/projects/alyth-community-projects-fund/

Alyth’s guiding groups get busy in the garden

James Magro of the Friends of Guiding welcomed the ADT grant

Alyth’s popular and active Rainbow, Brownies and Guides groups are planning a garden makeover thanks to a grant from ADT’s Community Projects Fund.

The Alyth Friends of Guiding group have been awarded £1500 to help the girls give the garden at their hut on the New Alyth Road a mini-makeover.  The funding will be used to create sensory areas, instal bug hotels and other improvements, as well as buying planters, hanging baskets, bulbs and other items to make the entrance more attractive and welcoming.  The girls in all three groups will be doing this work themselves on group nights over the next few months.

At the same time, the grant will support essential maintenance work on the Guide Hut and ongoing garden-care like hedge- and grass-cutting, using local tradespeople to augment the efforts of the Friends of Guiding and the Guide leaders themselves.

James Magro of the Alyth Friends of Guiding said:  “This project is needed to make both the garden and hut fit for purpose once again.  Updating the garden would allow the girls to use the outdoor space on group  nights so much more.  It will make a big difference to the girls and leaders who use the hut most weeks of the year, and would enhance the planning of the leaders, therefore the activities and experiences of the girls.”

ADT’s Community Projects Fund distributes the community benefit funds provided for Alyth by the operators of the Tullymurdoch Windfarm, some five miles north of the town.  Applications to the fund are judged by an independent panel of volunteers drawn from across the community.  Apply at https://lovealyth.org.uk/projects/alyth-community-projects-fund/

It’s game on for 50-Plus Club!

Alyth’s long-running 50-Plus Club is now equipped with loads of new games, craft materials and a projector to help guest speakers, thanks to a £950 grant from pour Community Projects Fund.

The money has helped the Club to buy board games and table-top games, art and craft materials, and a small bingo machine as well as a projector for guest speakers to use and for other community groups to borrow if they need it.

The Club had been running for many years but had to stop because of COVID.  It has restarted recently and membership is at a reasonable level, but the Club would like to encourage more members, especially those who are still reluctant to go out and about much.  

The aim is to give people aged 50 and over an opportunity to socialise, learn new skills but also have time for a cup of tea and a blether. Some current members have said the club is a lifeline for them as they live alone and are rarely out of the house.

The Club’s John Lindsay said:  “We want the club to provide the place where people can come for a get-together and socialise with a cup of tea and cake.  However we also want to provide a variety of activities for the members to choose from, to help stimulate their physical and mental wellbeing.  Our members told us they would like more craft activities and some more up-to-date board games, ones to play in groups.” 

John added: “We hope the new equipment will create an enjoyable and informative experience for our members and also encourage more people to attend the club, especially those who live alone and would benefit from the social aspect of the meeting as well as the stimulation provided by the games, activities and talks.”

The Club is also now working with Alyth Primary School to encourage more interaction between the young and the elderly in Alyth.  The projector would help with pupil presentations to Club members:  the elderly would enjoy seeing the youngsters doing something and the pupils would get valuable experience presenting to groups.

ADT’s Community Projects Fund distributes the community benefit funds provided for Alyth by the operators of the Tullymurdoch Windfarm, some five miles north of the town.  Applications to the fund are judged by an independent panel of volunteers drawn from across the community.  Apply at https://lovealyth.org.uk/projects/alyth-community-projects-fund/.

Clearance work starts on Millhaugh site

view of derelict buildings on Millhaugh site
Image courtesy of Richard Wilkins/Blairgowrie Advertiser

We are delighted to announce that work to make safe the former sawmill site at Millhaugh is scheduled to start next week. During these works the public are not permitted to enter the site for safety reasons. We estimate that the work will last from 13 November 2023 until 1 March 2024. 

The works due to be carried out can only be done by trained and qualified construction staff. The tasks to be done are:

  • Asbestos removal works – Disturbed asbestos dust and fibres are highly hazardous; 
  • Underground Storage Tanks (USTs) Removal – Deep excavations required which will be prone to flooding, plus removal of petrochemical impacted soils which are hazardous and toxic to humans; 
  • Demolition of dangerous structures – Hazards during demolition are falls, being struck, or buried in falling material or by the unintentional collapse of the structure; 
  • Working at height – Potential of items falling from above can cause serious injury. 

For all these reasons, we cannot permit any public access to the site during the work. We appreciate your cooperation during this phase and apologise for any inconvenience this may cause. 

Find out more on the Millhaugh project page:

Local footpaths promoted with new leaflets

Alyth’s wonderful network of paths connecting it to the beauties of the surrounding countryside is getting a welcome profile boost thanks to a grant from our Community Projects Fund.

The Fund has given £2000 to the WalkAlyth project to fund the design and production of a range of leaflets detailing individual walking routes along existing footpaths starting and finishing in Alyth.  The routes vary from one hour to four hours in length and the leaflets provide not only a route-map but also pictures and interesting information about things to see along the way.

The leaflets are available from the local library, local accommodation providers and businesses, and can also be downloaded from Alyth.Online so that ramblers can use them on their phones or other mobile devices.

Local artist and craftsman Ron McGill , who has done all the research and photography for the leaflets, commented:  “Alyth is a wonderful centre for exploring the amazing local countryside, flora and fauna.  Until now, there has been little information available to visitors and members of the local community who want to enjoy this unique environment. 

“Walking is an increasingly popular pastime, which has many benefits for physical and mental health. We hope that these leaflets promoting walking around Alyth will contribute to the wellbeing of local people and also help to increase the number of visitors to Alyth, with benefits for the local economy.”

Leaflets/maps of walking and cycling routes around Alyth were identified as a priority in the Alyth Community Action Plan 2021-26. 

ADT’s Community Projects Fund distributes the community benefit funds provided for Alyth by the operators of the Tullymurdoch Windfarm, some five miles north of the town.  Applications to the fund are judged by an independent panel of volunteers drawn from across the community.  Apply at https://lovealyth.org.uk/projects/alyth-community-projects-fund/.

PAGE TOP