Lindley Clock Tower

Lindley Clock Tower was erected in 1902 by James Nield Sykes and designed in the Art Nouveau style by Manchester-based architect Edgar Wood.

It stands on the junction of Lidget Street and Daisy Lea Lane.

Discovering Old Huddersfield

The clock tower is discussed in Discovering Old Huddersfield: Part Four, pages 51 to 53:

The inscription over the door of the Clock Tower reads: "This tower was erected by James Nield Sykes Esq. J.P. of Field Head, Lindley, for the benefit of the inhabitants of his village in 1902." The tower was designed by James Sykes' nephew, Edgar Wood, one of the country's leading architects and the numerous symbolic sculptures, executed in the finest stone, were by T. Stirling of London.

Carved over the door is the figure of Time standing on the winged globe, moving straight ahead in his full youth, holding his scythe and hour glass. On his right hand is the figure of Youth, sowing seed broadcast and on his left "Old Age" reaping the harvest. The model for the sower in this simple sermon in stone is believed to have been thirteen year old Harry Mortimer whose father, Tom, was a plumber working on the tower's copper roof. One day, when the sculptor was in need of a model for "Youth" he spotted Harry who had brought his father's dinner to the site. Thus Harry was immortalized in stone.

The figures on each of the corner buttresses represent the four virtues: Faith (east), Love (south), Purity (west) and Justice (north). The four seasons are portrayed on the frieze with spring symbolized by almond blossom, summer by the rose, autumn by the apple and winter by holly. The gargoyles represent "the beasts fleeing from the tower of time" and are described as The Lazy Dog, The Vicious Dog, The Cunning Dog and the Greedy Dog.

The clock was started by Miss Mary Alice Sykes, youngest daughter of James Nield Sykes, on 24th December 1902. To celebrate the event F.W. Sykes of Green Lea gave a treat on Christmas Day to the aged and poor of Lindley and two days later John Sykes entertained some four hundred people over the age of sixty at Acre House.

The Clock Tower was conveyed to the Corporation on 14th July 1925. In 1968 the copper sheeting on the roof was replaced and the stonework was cleaned and pointed. Two years later the clock's original mechanism, which had worn, was replaced by the mechanism from the old market hall clock. Many local people were disappointed that the new mechanism did not strike or chime and a "Save the Clock Tower Chimes" fund was inaugurated to raise the necessary £500. When the fund reached £400 the Town Council offered the rest and on 11th September 1971, after more than a year of silence, the Mayor, Ald. Mrs. E. M. Whitteron, switched on the new electric chimes.

Lindley Clock Tower with it copper roof is a landmark visible from many of the surrounding districts. That it is held in affection by the people of Lindley and areas further afield was proved on 11th and 12th September 1999 when, as part of a Heritage Weekend, the doors were thrown open to the public for the first time since 1902 and long queues of people patiently waited their chance to enter.

After the clock tower was completed in 1902 it was whispered, rather unkindly, that Mr. Sykes' motive was to make sure that the employees at Acre Mills had no excuse for being late for work. If this idea, which is still current, is true then in Lindley Clock Tower we must have one of the most ornate and expensive alarm clocks ever known. For such a simple purpose it would surely have been cheaper to provide all the workmen with clocks or even the services of a "knocker-up". At the time the clock was built Mr. Sykes was retired and it is far more likely that his intention was, as the inscription suggests, to benefit his native village and, perhaps, as he was nearing the end of his life to leave something splendid as his memorial near to the place where he lived.

Further Reading

Historic England Listing

  • Grade II*
  • first listed 12 September 1973
  • listing entry number 1215049

LIDGET STREET (East Side) Lindley Lindley Clock Tower. 1900-2. Architect: Edgar Wood. Sculpture and copper roof by T Stirling Lee. Ashlar. Square plan. Octagonal copper pagoda roof. Diagonal corner buttresses bearing figures of angels near top, carried up to form pinnacles, gargoyles at eaves. Side staircase turret. One clock on each face. Arcade below eaves. Street facade has centre door with lintel ramped upwards to central sculpted figure: smaller figures at sides, and inscription above door reading "This tower was erected by James Nield Sykes Esq JP of Field Head, Lindley, for the benefit of his native village in 1902." Steps. Above door sculpted figure under and small paired windows either side with art nouveau tracery. Balcony corbelled out below clock. Edgar Wood was married to a Sykes. The clock tower is one of his most important works.


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