Your browser is unsupported and may have security vulnerabilities! Upgrade to a newer browser to experience this site in all it's glory.
Skip to main content

19th June 2023

A piece of Hull’s timekeeping history is to rise and fall again after 100 years from Thursday 29 June, following a major restoration.

Hull’s Time Ball has reclaimed the city’s skyline, situated on top of The Guildhall’s clock tower, 196ft (60m) above ground level. It is just one of a small number still working in the country and one of the last remaining examples of this type of timekeeping in Britain.

Funded by Hull City Council and The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Time Ball and its significance has been saved for the city and its residents.

Restoration includes the Time Ball returning to full working order, renovating the clock tower as well as installing a new internal mechanism, maintaining history whilst adding a modern twist.

Restored Time Ball at The Guildhall tower

As well as the restoration, musician and Director of Music at Hull Minster, Mark Keith, worked with Year 4 classes at Oldfleet Primary school and at Priory Primary School, both members of Hull Museum’s Magical Museums membership scheme. The two classes of children worked to create a new piece of music to be played on the Guildhall carillon. Pupils created their original compositions on glockenspiels and these compositions have been combined to create the final piece that will be played on the Guildhall’s carillon bells. This piece will be showcased at the Time Ball launch and at special events in the future.

Councillor Mike Ross, Leader of Hull City Council, said: “It is great to see the city’s Guildhall Time Ball in full working order again after over a century of not working.

“Residents can now learn about this nationally significant timepiece and the important role it played for sailors on the Humber.

“It is important to continue to tell the story of the Guildhall Time Ball and ensure this maritime story lives on for decades to come.”

Helen Featherstone, Director, England, North at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “It’s wonderful news that the Guildhall Time Ball, a timepiece of such great heritage significance has been restored to full working order.

“We’re thrilled that thanks to money raised by National Lottery players we have played a key role in keeping the story of this historic landmark alive and ensuring this unique aspect of Hull’s heritage can be enjoyed by future generations.”

Local contractor, Hobson and Porter completed the restoration work.

Joe Booth, Business Development Director at Hobson & Porter, said: “The Time Ball is a very special part of Hull’s Maritime Project and the restoration of The Guildhall. To see it working again is hugely rewarding for the city as a whole and everyone involved in this intricate project.

“The feedback from both local people and Hull visitors passing the site has all been extremely positive, with people genuinely happy to see this famous landmark restored to its former glory, and it’s fantastic to see the Time Ball taking pride of place on the city’s skyline once more.”

The Time Ball was last in operation in 1922 and is a rare historic timepiece. It played a key role to help ship's navigators tell the time on the Humber and River Hull by dropping at 1pm.

Hull’s Time Ball is the highest Time Ball in the UK and one of the last to be built. It is the only timepiece of its kind on a municipal building and one of only a few nationally. Installed between April 1915 – November 1916, it is a very late example of this method of timekeeping.