Anger as Fife clock tower is still awaiting repairs four years on

The stone lying in a depot four years after the tower was dismantled for safety reasons
The stone lying in a depot four years after the tower was dismantled for safety reasons

Shocked Burntisland residents are calling on Fife Council to replace the town’s ancient clock tower before it’s too late.

Community councillors were gobsmacked when they began investigating what had happened to the repairs, which began in 2013 and then stopped suddenly – only to discover that around £60,000 of stone for the work is currently lying in storage.

The tower complete with clock

The tower complete with clock

And they fear that if the work is not done soon, it will deteriorate too much for it to be used, or will disappear for other projects.

George McLachlan, secretary of the voluntary group, said: “Over £60,000 has already been spent from the Common Good Fund and the area budget in sourcing new stone and initiating these repairs.

‘‘There are seven bags each containing a new carved arch. I was told each arch costs about the price of a small car!

“My concern is that after such a length of time this stonework will disappear either accidentally or will be used for some other purpose.”

He explained that the new stone is taking up a large amount of space in a council depot while that from the old tower covers a whole floor in another, with parts of the clock in a different location.

“Fife Council’s heritage team says the stone will deteriorate over time, especially the new cut stone which should be worked soon after being quarried,” said Mr McLachlan.

“The old stone sections are individually marked and need to be kept under cover to protect the markings, so they are not subject to normal weathering and could dry out.”

And he said the town’s residents should express their anger about the council’s “total indifference” to completing the job.

“Burntisland has just come top in a poll of Fife’s favourite conservation town. This certainly has more to do with the care taken by townspeople than any consideration by Fife Council.”

Fiona Fisher, council built heritage officer, said: “Work on the clock tower was originally carried out to make it safe. The plan was to re-build it, however, the funding application in 2013 was unsuccessful.

“There’s a real desire to see the tower rebuilt and we’re meeting with the community council soon to see how we can help the local community progress this.”