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MITCHELL, Jeremy Institute Clock Tower clock winder

Porthleven clock winder Jeremy Mitchell honoured with plaque

clock winder

For more than 40 years he has braved heights and questionable ladders to make sure Porthleven’s most iconic feature continues to operate.

Now Jeremy Mitchell, the port’s official clock winder and maintenance man for this very special timepiece, has been honoured with a town plaque.

The surprise presentation took place at last week’s meeting of Porthleven Town Council.

Mr Mitchell had been invited on the pretence of giving the council some history about the clock and his family’s involvement with it, as funds are attempted to be raised for the restoration of the Bickford-Smith Institute.

In fact, mayor Andrew Wallis wanted to present Mr Mitchell with the port’s highest honour of a town plaque, in recognition of his work since 1977.

Mr Wallis said: “Porthleven has one honour; I’m sorry it’s taken 40 years to give you it. We’d like to thank you for the work you do.”

A surprised Mr Mitchell replied: “It’s a bit of an honour having something like this and having the recognition. I’ve been pleased to do it for many years.”

The clock has been the centrepiece of the village since the institute was open in 1884 by William Bickford-Smith.

Councillors heard how Mr Mitchell’s grandfather actually started the family’s involvement, by winding the clock when he worked for Wills’ Garage – which has since become Kota.

He had got the clock working again after it was stopped during the Second World War and was definitely winding it when his grandson Jeremy was born in 1962.

Despite the precarious working conditions, Jeremy began going with his grandfather to help wind it from the age of three or four and recalled always saying hello to Mr and Mrs Burgess, who lived in the caretaker’s cottage – now Porthleven Town Council offices – as access to the clock tower was through their house.

Over the years the wooden ladder was replaced with metal stairs, during a major refit of the tower in the mid-1970s. It was at this point his grandfather, by then aged 75, resigned from clock winding “in protest” at the poor job the workmen had carried out.

Ross Richards took over for a couple of years but when Jeremy volunteered to help him on occasion the teenager suddenly found himself with a new weekly job – and he has continued ever since.

In that time he has only ever been relieved a few times by his deputies – including his granddad, who continued winding it on occasion, when he was passing the tower, until he was 89. Now his son Nathan has been helping take on the mantle.

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