GOING, going... gone.

Visitors to Coney Street late on Monday night were treated to an unusual spectacle: the dismantling of York’s famous ‘little admiral clock’.

The beautiful old clock – with the statue that gives it its name perched proudly on the top – has hung on an elaborate bracket outside St Martin’s Church as long as most of us can remember. Since 1966, in fact: which was when it was replaced after being repaired following damage sustained during the war.

On Monday night, Coney Street was virtually closed for the best part of five hours while workmen carefully took the clock down. The Rev Jane Nattrass, priest in charge of St Martin’s, just had time to give the ‘little admiral’ a hug, before he was shipped off to Cumbria, along with the rest of the clock, for a long-overdue MoT.

But don’t worry. All being well, clock and admiral should be back, looking all spruced up, by next March.

There has been a clock at St Martin’s since 1668, says Andrew Hingston, churchwarden of St Helen with St Martin. That was replaced by a new clock in 1754. Just over 20 years later, the admiral himself appeared, when the clock was given a new dial and decoration.

He’s clearly a naval officer of some kind, but despite the name there is no evidence that he was modelled on any particular admiral of the period, Mr Hingston says.

The clock was replaced again in 1855 by one made by the famous York clockmaker Thomas Cooke, who had a workshop in Coney Street. But the admiral was retained.

In 1942, when the church was bombed, the clock was badly damaged. It was restored by George Newey and replaced in 1966: and has stood there ever since.

The clock mechanism is still in good working order, but the ornate bracket has been suffering from corrosion, and was further damaged by a large vehicle.

It will be covered with an epoxy resin that should give better protection from the elements. The admiral himself will also have a wash, brush-up and a fresh coat of paint.

York Press: The clock is removed by workmen on a cherry picker

The clock is removed by workmen on a cherry picker

York Press: The clock is brought down to earth by workmen

The clock is brought down to earth by workmen