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Next time you pass the clock tower in St Peter’s Square, look twice. The tower, erected in 1883 to commemorate Joseph Peers’ fifty years service as Clerk of the Peace, does not seem to have been placed square with any line that can be drawn with any one of the surrounding buildings. The Denbighshire Free Press, Saturday 17th February 1883, reported that “an ornamental clock tower is to be reected... at a cost of £400, voluntarily subscribed. Mr Douglas of Chester is the architect and the contract has been taken by Mr Joseph WiIIiams of Rhyl. Freestone work will be executed by Mr Charles Thomas of Llys Cadw Quarry, Gwespyr, Llanasa”; presumably, the stone for the monument was brought from this quarry. John Douglas, incidentally, was a well known Chester architect, who had also designed Coetmor, Bryn Goodman. Edward Hubbard’s The Work of John Douglas” (Victorian Society, 1991) shows Douglas’s drawing of the proposed clock, published in the journal British Architecture in 1883. One of John Douglas’ trade marks was the use of bands of sandstone and limestone in his buildings as illustrated in this photograph. The Free Press account of the monument as it was nearing completion can hardly be bettered.
“Placed in a prominent part of St Peter’s Square, it forms a conspicuous ornament and one of which the inhabitants and subscribers may feel proud. It is in the form of a tower, with appropriate space for a public clock, lamps, a representation of the patron saint of Wales, and having an attached drinking fountain. In addition, there are suitable stone seats for the use of the public, whilst access to the clock, the gas and water apparatus, are obtained by a door, over which are the borough arms, the letter “P” and the inscription, ‘Erected AD 1883 by his many friends to commemorate the private worth and public service of Joseph Peers, an honoured inhabitant of this town, who has for the last five years filled the office of Clerk of the Peace for the county of Denbigh’. The various parts are nicely ornamental and the tower is completed with a plain dome. Over the cattle trough the county arms and the letter “R”. Below the clock face is the motto, Ex Hoe Momento, Pendant Æ ternltas”. The account does not mention the space left for a representation of Peers himself to be placed just below the clock face. By 20th October, the Free Press reported that this had been rectified with “an excellent likeness” sculpted by a Mr Griffiths of Chester. You’ll notice, however, that the circular trough was not built—but the water trough for dogs is still there: look for it.

Private Worth & Public Service

In July 2009, Gwynne Morris urged us to take a second look at a familiar local monument