Meet the man taking care of Victoria Centre's Emett Clock for over ten years

The Emett Clock, which stands proudly on the upper mall of Nottingham’s Victoria Centre, has been maintained by volunteer engineer, Pete Dexter, over the last decade.

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The 23-foot clock, formally known as The Aqua Horological Tintinnabulator, or ‘water-powered clock’, has been one of Nottingham's most popular sight-seeing destinations since its creation by cartoonist and constructor, Rowland Emett, in 1973.

On Friday 1 March, Pete spoke to Victoria Centre shoppers about his ongoing commitment to the clock’s maintenance, telling stories of its unique mechanics and the challenges associated with its upkeep.

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As a way to mark his continued dedication towards the clock, Victoria Centre’s team partnered with local artist and recent Nottingham Trent University fine art graduate, Molly Moss, to produce a bespoke acrylic painting which was presented to him during the event.

Molly Moss, Pete Dexter and Glen StaniforthMolly Moss, Pete Dexter and Glen Staniforth
Molly Moss, Pete Dexter and Glen Staniforth

Throughout its 51-year tenure at the centre, various repairs have been made to the clock, including in 2013, when Pete noticed the internal electronics were in bad condition, and he volunteered to restore them.

When the clock was dismantled in late 2013, and taken to Birmingham for its repair, Pete, working closely with The Rowland Emett Society, designed and rebuilt a replacement system to drive the ornate cobweb wheel. He also reinstated the 1724 harpsichord music by Rameau by transferring the obsolete audio cassette tape system into a CD-based source, so that shoppers could continue to hear its distinctive chime.

Following the update, the clock made its way back to Victoria Centre where, in 2015, it was relocated to the upper mall in line with changing shopping habits, and proudly unveiled by Pete’s granddaughter.

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Commenting on Pete’s milestone, Nigel Wheatley, centre director at Victoria Centre, said:


“The Emett Clock is what gives Victoria Centre its character and, still to this day, we see many shoppers taking a minute to admire the structure and throw coins in to make a ‘penny wish’. There’s no doubt that Pete’s work on the clock has guaranteed that visitors can admire the clock with the same level of craftsmanship as when it was first installed in 1973.

“Having Pete return to the centre and speak to our shoppers about why he loves spending time maintaining the clock has been a pleasure. And, to top it off, we were able to present him with Molly’s bespoke painting, which so beautifully captures his devotion to the clock.

“Not only are we proud to have been able to support the fantastic work of an up-and-coming local artist, we’re delighted to have formally thanked Pete for everything he’s done, not just for the Emett Clock, but for Victoria Centre, and the wider Nottingham community.”

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Molly was tasked with creating a piece of art that would encapsulate Pete’s time and dedication. Commenting on her work, and being involved in the project, she said:

“Designing and painting this piece has been an absolute delight, and I’m excited to have presented it to Pete in recognition of all his voluntary work.

“The painting, done on A4 canvas in acrylic, captures the much-loved clock in all its glory and took approximately three weeks to create. Adding a personal touch for Pete, I’ve painted him into the piece standing proudly next to the clock he’s so passionate about.”

For more information on Victoria Centre, visit or follow Victoria Centre’s social media channels – Facebook, Instagram, X and TikTok.