Above: Peter Dexter after being presented with his own self portrait.

A retired engineer has received a hand-painted portrait of himself to celebrate ten years of voluntary service maintaining the Emett Clock. 

The twenty-three-foot Emett Clock in the Victoria Centre has been in situ since 1973 and is an iconic piece of Nottingham’s history.

It was designed by cartoonist and inventor Rowland Emett, who was also known for creating the iconic car from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Above: Spectators admiring the Emett Clock in motion.

Situated at the back of the top-floor, the Emett Clock provides more than timekeeping, with the coins thrown into its water basin being collected and donated to various charities.

The clock’s whimsical chimes can be heard every fifteen minutes, making it a popular attraction for visitors.

The person responsible for keeping it running is Peter Dexter, a volunteer engineer of the Victoria Shopping Centre who has been maintaining the clock for a decade, his work was integral in its restoration and return to the shopping centre in 2015.

Its complex design and age have been a challenge to maintain but luckily, Peter Dexter is more than qualified, being an engineer for over forty years. 

You can find a short interview with Peter and Glen in the video below:


Peter says he has always been curious about the clock. 

“I have a granddaughter and back when she was two, I was looking after her in the city, I took her to the centre show her the clock, but it was doing nothing, no movement, no music, nothing. 

“I enquired to the centre about its condition, I said I’m an engineer, can I have a look?”

Above: Peter Dexter (left) was presented with a painting by Victoria shopping centre manager Glen Standiforth (right).

The centre gave him permission to work on the clock, citing the age of the machinery the primary issue, their staff assisted Peter in changing the faulty electrical control circuits. 

“I respect its age, so I wanted to keep as many original parts as I could, the clock is now very much up to modern standards.

“I’d like to think my passion for the clock has rubbed off on the other staff, since whenever there’s a problem, they always seem happy to give me a call,” he said. 

Peter also tasked himself with restoring the clocks harpsichord chimes, removing the outdated cassette player and replacing it after extensive research to find the music’s original composers and recordings. 

“I’m just glad I’ve been able to add my own creativity alongside Rowlands” – Peter Dexter

Peter was hosting what he believed was a public event to discuss the history and inner workings of Emett’s Clock but was unaware that the staff had a surprise for him. 

Peter was then presented with a commemorative painting of himself next to the timeless clock, which was created by a fine art graduate student from Nottingham Trent University, Molly Moss.

The acrylic A4 portrait was believed to have taken around three weeks to create.

Above: Peter Dexter (left) thanking Molly Moss (right) for the portrait.

Peter described the moment he was handed the painting as very emotional.

“What a lovely memento to remind me of my time with the clock,” he said.

Glen Standiforth  the Victoria Centre’s Operational Manager, believes that the event was  not only a recognition of dedication but also a celebration of both Molly and Peter’s work. 

“Our centre has always supported artistic projects from the community, but with Peter’s  longstanding dedication, we wanted to do something special, and Molly’s work was the answer. 

“The piece of art that has been commissioned is very individual, its bespoke and one of a kind, making it very similar to our clock.

“We’re pleased to give it to him and hope he’ll enjoy it for years to come,” he said. 

Above: The acrylic painting which depicts Mr Dexter and the Emett Clock.

When asked about of the future of Emett’s clock, Peter said: “I just hope that the clock continues being looked after, even long after I’m gone”.

He also wants future generations of his family to be able to come back and see the work that he has had a hand in.

With the clock still ticking over 50 years later, it’s safe to say that Peter’s commitment for the Emett Clock has been no waste of time.