Bildeston: Clock winding family retire from job after 33 years of work

Trevor Scarfe was responsible for keeping the time at the clock tower in Bildeston

Trevor Scarfe was responsible for keeping the time at the clock tower in Bildeston - Credit: Archant

Generations of clock winders have been going through the streets of Bildeston to keep the time.

Trevor Scarfe was responsible for keeping the time at the clock tower in Bildeston

Trevor Scarfe was responsible for keeping the time at the clock tower in Bildeston - Credit: Archant

But now after 33 years the Scarfe family are retiring from the job.

It was in 1980 when William Scarfe first went up the clock tower which lies in the heart of the picturesque village.

When he retired at the age of 81 in 1996, son Trevor, of Brooksfield, Bildeston, took on the role.

He said: “The role came my way and they (the parish council) said would I like to do it and I said I will for the village.

“My father did it for so many years and I felt it would be nice for me to do it for as long as I could.”

Mr Scarfe, 72, has been a familiar sight for homeowners who have seen him walking to the clock tower with ladder-in-hand each week.

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“I have to get myself up to the top of the tower, through two trap doors. When I get up there I wind the clock and make sure it’s all right and then that’s it each week,” he said.

“It’s a 10-day clock but if you do it every seven days it keeps it in good nick.

“People were quite surprised when I said I was giving it up. I’m looking after my wife and I’ve got more aches and pains – I was finding it difficult to get through the trap doors.”

Even when Mr Scarfe was unwell or on holiday his brother-in-law Charlie Clarke would carry on keeping the time.

But it looks unlikely that anyone else from the Scarfe family will carry on the role.

“I do not think anyone else is interested and they all live out of the village,” he said.

“I’ve never had any real complaints with my work but people will tell me if the clock has stopped.”

Mr Scarfe, who was born in Bildeston, started working in the village at the age of 13 for the old Co-operative store as a butcher’s apprentice.

He stayed there for 40 years before moving on to Hadleigh Castings before retiring at 65.

The job of village clock winder will continue because, rather than buy an electronic winding mechanism, Bildeston Parish Council has recruited a replacement.

The chimes of the clock tower, which stands in the Market Place and is an important landmark, can be heard by almost all homeowners.

The Grade-II listed tower, which was built in 1864, was constructed thanks partly to funding from the public.

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