A Rare Find

Nancy Green

A box of what appeared to be random and useless clock parts has yielded treasure for an area clock enthusiast and repairman.

Benny Weeks of the Weir area was given a box of discarded clock parts while repairing a grandfather clock for a family in Grenada.

In the box, however, he discovered what he calls a “majestic mantel clock,” an item he now hopes to return to people he believes are its rightful owners.

“When I work on a clock, I always think about the family who owned the clock and about the events of their lives. You can let your mind wander to weddings, births, as everyone’s life revolves around the clock,” said Weeks. “Finding one with a name on it makes it special.”

The commemorative plaque on the clock reads, “Presented to J. Arthur Hoare by his colleagues of the British Transport Commisson, Swansea Docks on his retirement, 17-3-1963.”

His interest piqued by the plaque, Weeks learned that J. Arthur Hoare was a bell ringer at St. Augustine’s Church in Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan, Wales.
The clock – with Westminster chimes – is in perfect condition and has not stopped running, according to Weeks, who believes the timepiece dates back to the 1940s.

During his research, Weeks located Hoare’s obituary. Hoare, born in 1897, was Swansea’s oldest bell ringer, continuing that hobby until his death in 1988 at the age of 91. He is buried in Sketty churchyard near the church bells and the J. Arthur Hoare Memorial Trophy is still awarded during a national bell-ringing competition annually.

Weeks said he suspects someone in Wales has a connection to the bell ringer to whom the clock is inscribed, and he would like to see the Welsh heirloom returned to Wales, 4,000 miles from Mississippi. Weeks has contacted a Wales newspaper to hopefully locate Hoare’s relatives.

Weeks, who has been interested in and been a collector of clocks from an early age, displays his personal collection in a workshop adjacent to his home on Highway 413. Both his home and workshop have been rebuilt after being destroyed by a tornado in 2010.