Not a second to lose
By DAWN COHEN
BALLINA time has been fro- zen at 12.05 for more than a decade, according to the icon- ic court house clock in River Street. But yesterday, Sue Dakin fought to save the heritage time-keeper. The former Ballina Shire councillor presented a letter to Cr Alan Brown in front of the River Street court house, signed by five community representatives, asking the council to save the mecha- nism of the clock for display in Ballina. "It's part of who we are," Ms Dakin said. "I am calling on residents to take ownership of our heri- tage and to take responsibility for it."
The NSW Attorney-Gener- al's Department is planning to restore the 115-year-old clock to time-keeping precision by replacing its post-Victorian mechanism with electronic equipment. But Sydney's Powerhouse Museum has its eye on the innards. Dr Nick Lomb, the muse- um's curator of astronomy and time-keeping, wants to display the Ballina mecha- nism alongside the famous Strasburg clock, created by Clock and constructed by the same man who made Ballina's masterpiece, Richard Bartholo- mew Smith. Cr Brown is sympathetic to the letter, signed by Mari- lyn Perkins from Wollongbar Progress Association, local historian Marelle Lee, Lions representative Walter Mul- grave, Ms Dakin and local resident Don Blackmore. "I worked close by when the post office was here," Cr Brown said. "It was the centre of the town." The Attorney-General's Department is not promising anything. "The department needs to ensure the mechanism will be appropriately preserved and available for public display," said Christine McKenzie, reg- istrar of the Ballina Local Court. If Ballina can provide that, the Powerhouse Museum will concede defeat. "I would be disappointed but a local display would be ideal," Dr Lomb said.