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Father and sons chime in to keep Wagga Court clock on time

Publication date: Friday, 30 June 2017

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Wagga Courthouse registrar Paul Fernon today congratulated a father and his sons for keeping the city's historic courthouse clock ticking for more than 55 years.

"The courthouse clock tower is one of the most iconic landmarks in Wagga, but the old timepiece would have come to a halt long ago if it wasn't for the regular care and attention of Des Breust and his sons Heath and Mark," said Mr Fernon.

Des began winding and servicing the clock in 1962 while working as a 17-year-old apprentice for a Fitzmaurice St jeweller.

"In the mid-1980s, it became a case of big hand and little hand when Des took his then-teenage sons Heath & Mark up the tower to teach them the trade," Mr Fernon said.

After Des left Wagga in 1989, his youngest son Mark looked after the clock for several years, before Heath took on the role which he has continued for the past 24 years.

Today 72-year-old Des literally turned back the clock when he returned to Wagga to help Heath, 48, perform his regular servicing duties at the courthouse.

"The clock is a magnificent piece of machinery but it needs regular TLC as strong winds affect the swing of the 50-kilogram pendulum, causing it to run fast or slow," Des said.  

During his visit to Wagga, Des reminisced about climbing the court tower at 2am to adjust the clock for daylight saving, and the installation of an electronic device to stop late-night chiming following noise complaints from hotel guests across the road.

"The clock has watched over Wagga since the days of horse and cart – in fact it's older than the court itself and was initially installed above the old post office," Des said.

The clock tower was restored in a $17 million courthouse renovation that was completed earlier this year. With the addition of the new two-storey building, the courthouse complex has more than doubled in size from 1,535 to 3,655 m2.