A curious custom used to be associated with the Town Hall clock in Leeds and it was this: that when the clock stuck 12, have-a-go heroes would try to sprint all the way round the building before the last chime. But according to a report in the YEP on January 27, 1932, no-one, not even professional athletes, could manage the feat, although one anecdotal account from several years later says one man did it.
The clock was hung on January 3, 1860, two years after its opening attended by Queen Victoria. The bell tower has 270 stone steps. It was wound mechanically twice a day until it was fitted with electrical winding gear on September 11, 1929. A report on October 18, 1935 has at one time the chimes could be heard as far away as Pudsey, Oakwood and even Harewood Avenue (even miles away).
The four-ton 6ft-tall Victoria Bell was cast at Crescent Works, Cripplegate, London, where Big Ben of Westminster’s bells were made. The clock has frequently broken down, stopping on October 22, 1930, January 27, 1934, September 25, 1940 (hands replaced), July 11, 1950 (hands stuck at midnight), October 20, 1954 (clock stops 8pm), February 25, 1955, September 13, 1967 (clock stops at 6.40), September 8, 1969 (clock shut down for a two-week refurb), September 19, 1984 (clock hands whizzed forward/backward during repairs), July 6, 1985 (stops at 4.50), June 25, 1986 (stops at 6.20), et al.
In March 1941, three of the clock’s opal glass panels were damaged by an air raid, then replaced by tin painted white. On September 18, 1943, the clock struck from 7am-10pm for first time isince 1939; it fell silent again in 1947 in deference to Infirmary patients. On April 2, 1945, the clock was illuminated for first time since outbreak of war. On October 23, 1974, metalworker Richard Coates, 46, was winched to safety from the clock tower by an RAF helicopter crew after injuring himself.