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Kit Williams clock tracked down in Gloucestershire

The Lady and Tiger Illusion Clock
The Lady and Tiger Illusion Clock has been found in The Forest of Dean

An ornamental clock that used to be on display in Cheltenham's Beechwood Shopping Centre has been rediscovered.

The Lady and Tiger Illusion Clock was designed and built by the Gloucestershire artist Kit Williams, who is probably most famous for his illustrated treasure hunt book 'Masquerade'.

In its heyday the clock could be seen moving up and down a central pole, apparently being powered by a cycling tiger and lady.

When the clock got to the top of the pole the tiger roared and the whole thing moved back down the pole.

It was originally erected in 1992 but disappeared just over a decade later when the shopping centre was taken over by new owners.

Since 2004 its whereabouts have been unknown.

But now an investigation by BBC Gloucestershire has revealed the clock is still in one piece, and has been lying for several years underneath a tarpaulin in The Forest of Dean.

I thought it would have been sacrilege to scrap it because it was very much a Gloucestershire clock
Peter Wood

The clock has been tracked down to a back garden belonging to a man who wishes to be identified only as John.

He told us: "I acquired it as a project for when I retire."

"I was a friend of Peter Wood [the manager at the time] of the Beechwood Shopping Centre and I'd done some work of an engineering nature [for him previously].

"He phoned me one day and said the people who were going to take over the shopping centre didn't want it any more and he didn't want to scrap it, which would have been an absolute sin, and 'Would I like it?'

"I jumped at the chance and sent a lorry round and picked it up."

Statue of a lady
The clock features a lady who pedals a cycle up a long pole

Peter Wood continues the story:

"I thought it would have been sacrilege [to scrap it] because it was very much a Gloucestershire clock.

"It had paintings of the Gloucestershire 'green men' which takes you back to Morris dancing days and I was determined not to scrap it.

"I wanted it to go somewhere where it could perhaps reappear again."

Another of Kit Williams' clocks - the Wishing Fish Clock - is still on display in Cheltenham's Regent Arcade. Peter says the Beechwood clock was always in the shadow of that.

"It was never quite as good as the Regent Arcade clock... because that was a very difficult act to follow, but having said that it, it gave Cheltenham a brand as a town with two clocks."

"In my search to try to get it to go to a good home it had to be to someone who had engineering experience because it had to be taken down, and John knew exactly what he was doing technically."

Peter says now the clock has come out of hiding it should now go on display again in a public setting:

"Perhaps in Cheltenham where it can be seen again by the public either as a moving display or a static display."




SEE ALSO
'The man behind the masquerade'
01 Dec 09 |  Arts & Culture
Artist reunited with golden hare
20 Aug 09 |  Arts & Culture

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