Clock tower installs pride in a city
For over 178 years, the Herne Bay Clock Tower has stood along the seafront of Herne Bay in the County of Kent, South East England. It is the oldest purpose-built, freestanding clock tower in the world and a point of pride for this seaside town. When the tower was built in 1837 it served to tell the time, yet today, with the help of LED lights, it also tells the tide.
In 2012, Canterbury City Council was awarded Heritage Lottery Funding to refurbish the tower. The harsh marine environment had begun to erode the tower, so preservation was essential in keeping it standing for future generations to enjoy.
As a condition of the funding, the project would also have to add an element in addition to the refurbishment that would celebrate the continuation of this monument. The legacy of the project would be vibrant new lights to showcase the tower as a symbol of the town.
Canterbury City Council contracted lighting designer Simon Hughes of DAZL Lighting to create a design that would honor the historic structure while adding vibrancy to the tower. Due to access limitations, Hughes needed a lighting system that would require little maintenance. He chose an LED system for this reason and for its energy efficiency and color-changing capabilities. He then turned to Architainment Lighting Ltd. who specified Color Kinetics products because they are built to withstand the seaside environments.
Hughes distributed 32 ColorBlast Powercore luminaires across the four sections of the tower to saturate it with an even coverage of vibrant color or tunable white light. Designed especially for this nautical town, the lights at the top section are programmed to change based on tide levels. When tide is low, the lights turn red, and when tide is high, they turn green. This unique element is made possible through the Pharos TPC controller, which connects a 15-year database of tidal information to the lighting system. While the lights on the top section tell the tide, the bottom three sections are lit in bright colors for special events and holidays. On all other days, the tower uses ColorBlast RGB channels to tune the lights to an exact shade of white light that perfectly emphasizes the historic stone.
As a result of the restoration project, the Herne Bay Clock Tower will now last for many more years to come, and so will its new sustainable LED lights. As the lights shine through Herne Bay, residents are not only reminded of their town's rich history, but also the status of the tide. "We are delighted by our decision to put modern LED lights on the clock tower," says Patrick Rynne, the project leader from Canterbury City Council. "The lights bring the tower's architectural features to the forefront and add another unique function to the landmark."