The clock tower on Market House in Mullingar has been uncovered after several weeks hidden behind scaffolding when work was being done on its conservation.
Designed by William Caldbeck and built for Lord Greville in 1867, Market House is a landmark buildings in the town.
The central feature is its louvered timber clock tower, and now the scaffolding has been removed, the results of the work are clear.
Westmeath County Council heritage officer Melanie McQuade said: “The timber structure of the clock tower had become badly weathered over the years and needed attention to safeguard it from any further decay.
“Westmeath County Council, with grant aid from the ‘Historic Structures Fund’ from the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, implemented a programme of conservation works to the clock tower.
“On close inspection, it became clear that the timber louvers of the tower were too decayed to be repaired, so they were replaced with like for like hardwoods.
“On the advice of conservation engineer, Luke McNamee of Cronin Sutton Engineering, a steel frame was constructed to give internal support to the rebuilt wooden structure.”
Conservation architect Aisling Flanagan said that the leadwork on the cill of the tower had slipped and lead on the roof had become damaged.
The lead needed to be replaced to comply with building standard regulations, and in addition, parts of the weather vane on the top the tower were badly corroded.
The weather vane was restored to its original condition.
While the tower was being rebuilt, the clock was removed for specialist cleaning and restoration.
“While the works were being undertaken, we took the opportunity to install safe access to allow for future maintenance of the clock and tower,” said Liam Higgins of the Property Management Section at Westmeath County Council.
“We also had a light installed so that the clock face will be readable at night.”
Ms Flanagan added: “In order to make the new hardwood timbers of the tower weather tight, several coats of hardwearing exterior paint were applied. The timbers have been painted a blue-grey in order to reflect the colour seen in historic photographs of the clock tower and to complement the blue-grey tones in the slate on the building.”
“These works, undertaken by Conservation Contractors Kellbuild Ltd and Stokes Clocks, have ensured the structural stability of the clock tower, improved its functionality and appearance.
“We can be proud of this landmark building for generations to come”, said Ms McQuade in conclusion.