The magnificent Albert Clock Tower in Belfast is a key and much-loved, if slightly wonky, landmark in the city.
In 1865 a competition for the design of a memorial to the recently deceased Prince Consort, Albert, was won by W. Barre. The construction cost of £2,500 (2011: £196,000) was raised by public subscription.
The sandstone memorial was constructed between 1865 and 1869 by Fitzpatrick Brothers builders and stands 113 feet tall. The base of the tower features flying buttresses with heraldic lions. A statue of the Prince in the robes of a Knight of the Garter stands on the western side of the tower and was sculpted by SF Lynn. A two tonne bell is housed in the tower and the clock was made by Francis Moore of High Street, Belfast.
As a result of being built on wooden piles on marshy, reclaimed land around the River Farset, the top of the tower leans four feet off the perpendicular. Due to this movement, some ornamental work on the belfry was removed in 1924 along with a stone canopy over the statue of the Prince. This gave rise to the expression that the tower “has the time and the inclination.”
The clock was damaged in a bomb explosion by the IRA outside nearby River House in High Street on 6 January 1992.
To halt the worsening lean and repair damage caused by the elements and heavy passing traffic, a multimillion-pound restoration project was completed in 2002. During the project the wooden foundations were strengthened, the majority of the decaying carvings were replaced and the entire tower was cleaned.