Vintage church clock ticks thanks to this mechanic


Mahe: It’s indeed a marvel. The clock in the 76-feet tall tower of the St. Teresa’s Shrine here has been chiming for the past 133 years, and its bongs, with no doubts whatsoever, not only resonate history but also the culture of this region. Mechanic A E Balakrishnan, 71, is doing his bit to make the clock tick without fail and keep the legacy going.

The clock was gifted to the church by the French marines in 1885. The engravings on the clock suggest t was made by The Pethisham 47 Borel Company in Paris, France.

The clock has a diameter of 4 feet and is 26 years younger than the famous Big Ben in London, UK. The first tier in the tower accommodates the whole clock machinery, and related equipment and bell is located on the second tier.

S T Chandu, Balakrishnan's father, was preserving the clock for the past 40 years, and after his death the responsibility fell on the able shoulders of Balakrishnan, a goldsmith. He had worked abroad for the past 20 years and took the mantle of maintaining the clock after returning home.

Balakrishnan has been winding the clock, which has to be done once in a week, for the past nine years with due alacrity and precision. The clock relies on gravity to trigger the hourly chimes and the worn-out parts of the clock are periodically replaced, he noted.

He is an expert in re-engineering and modifying old motor bikes even though he doesn’t have any formal training in mechanics. 

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