CLOCK watchers in Northleach have been counting down to the return of the Cotswold Hall's iconic timepiece, which was refitted on Tuesday.

The clock, which stands out from the face of the building overlooking the town's West End and has a distinctive crown on top, underwent a complete overhaul by renowned clockmakers Smith of Derby who originally made and installed the clock in 1897 to celebrate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.

It was returned to its original position in Northleach this week by their Shropshire company J B Joyce and Co.

Smith of Derby, who have many prominent works to their name including the turret clock of St Paul’s Cathedral in London installed in 1893, have been servicing and maintaining the clock in Northleach for more than 120 years.

The Cotswold Hall is a well-used community resource in the town, used by many local groups and clubs as well as the rural cinema. The clock mechanism from the fist ever clock is still displayed in the Hall.

The Hall is run as a charity with a Board of Trustees assigned to look after its interests.

After a particularly harsh winter last year the Trustees noticed that the clock's two faces were keeping different times.

Tom Stevens, chairman of the Trustees, explained: "The first heavy fall of snow put the clock out of action. We didn't realise how much of a state it was in until Smith of Derby were up looking at it."

The Trustees agreed to the Clockmakers taking it away to Derby in June for a full assessment.

"The clock has been missed by people. It has been there for over 100 years and we couldn't just take it down and not put it back up," Tom explained.

Trustee Jacques Astic, who for the past 15 years has taken on the voluntary responsibility of helping to run the Cotswold Hall, added: "We trusted Smith of Derby completely because they are such a reputable firm. As they delved deeper into the clock they found that it was very damaged. It was corroded and needed a completely new drum, new dial and new arms. The crown has stayed the same but has been rebooted and the mechanism inside remains the same.

"The clock is iconic in Northleach. It should now last for a very long time," he added.

Martin Butchers, technical sales manager with Smith of Derby, said: "This was more of a complete remake than a renovation apart from the crown and the bracket. It fell to bits as soon as we started the process. Years ago these were made from steel. Moisture gets inside and rust starts to form.

"We now have access to new materials that will ensure longevity. The lighting pack we have put in the drum is LED low energy, lighting. It consumes much less power and has a much longer lifespan to ordinary tubes.

"We're delighted with the outcome. It looks magnificent. We don't let anything leave here unless we are completely happy with it. We know that the client and the local people of Northleach will be very happy."

Such a remake comes with a substantial price tag, with Trustees finding out on Friday the final cost, although it is estimated to be over £10,000.

"We are a charity and have so far been given money by the Lions of Northleach and the Sly Trust to fund this. We also held fundraising events," Jacques explained. "And on October 21 we are holding a Clock Lunch for 80 people to raise any outstanding funds."

With the clock now restored to its former glory, Northleach residents will once again be able to enjoy a timely link with the town's past.