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Joseph Peers and his Memorial - the Town Clock 

Fiona Gale

April 2024


Se also:

'The Joseph Peers Memorial'

by Gwynne Morris

Ruthin Broadsheet No. 30

Click on this link.

Joseph Peers, the son of Colonel Joseph Peers and his wife Dorothy, was born on 30th November 1800.

He was baptised in Llanfwrog Church on 9thDecember 1800.

Their son, Joseph, was born on 8thJuly 1828. At this time Joseph Peers and Caroline were living at Fir Grove. He was baptised in Llanfwrog Church.

At age 33 (1833/4), Joseph Peers was a solicitor and he was appointed as Clerk to the Justices of the Peace in Denbighshire. He held this role for 50 years until just before his death.

In early 1849 Joseph Peers son, Joseph Peers, celebrated his coming of age, he was 21. There was a ‘collection’ made in the town for money to the Poor Fund to mark his celebration. All the great and good of Ruthin subscribed, and were seen to subscribe. The whole list was published, printed by J Maddocks of Ruthin. All income and expenditure is noted, both were £205 1 shilling and six pence. 

Sadly within a few years both Joseph Peers wife and only child were dead. Caroline Peers, nėe Beaver, died in July 1855 and Joseph Peers, his son, in October 1855.
Caroline Peers Funeral is noted in the Wrexham and Denbigh Weekly Advertiser for 28thJuly 1855 and her son, in November 1855.


Joseph Peers was Clerk to the Justices of the Peace for 50 years, he retired in October 1883. By the time he finished Peers was earning a standard payment of £530 per year with additions of up to £220 per year from fees etc. By this time moves were afoot to commemorate his tenure, this became the Peers Memorial Clock.

Joseph Peers moved to live with a relative, Mrs Price Jones, Water Street, Rhyl at the end of his life and died there in early 1884 (20thJanuary). His funeral was held at LlanfwrogChurch with his coffin arriving on the train before being carried to the Church.


This brass eagle lectern was presented to Llanfwrog church in his memory, by his niece. The inscription reads:

'At dei gloriam et in delectessimi Josephi Peers memoriam D.D. R.P. 1884'.

Before Joseph Peers retired people locally were beginning to discuss how they could mark the 50 years of service that Joseph Peers had given. A group was set up led by Cornwallis West from Ruthin Castle. The Ruthin Corporation Minute book from the period records some reports of the Testimonial but the Corporation were not consulted about the memorial beforehand…


The Committee for the Peers Memorial was separate from the Corporation but very much supported by the Corporation. Interestingly there was disagreement as to who should design the Memorial!!

Once appointed John Douglas produced this design for the Peers Memorial. It is not quite the same as the finished structure.
The Committee collected £400 to build the monument and Joseph Peers himself paid for the clock which was apparently made by Joyce of Whitchurch. The clocktower is almost an ‘advert’ for the Gothic architectural techniques John Douglas could employ.


  On Saturday 15th September 1883 the Denbighshire Free Press ran an article when the structure was nearing completion


By the time the Clock Tower had its formal ‘handing over’ ceremony a few weeks later Joseph Peers was unable to attend due to ill health. As noted he had paid for the Clock himself and interestingly the clock mechanism which was set in motion by the mayor in November 1883, also acted as a timer controlling the gas supply to the lights!

Although unable to attend the ‘handing over’ Joseph Peers sent a letter of appreciation to all subscribers.

For quite a while it was unclear who actually owned the Peers Memorial, over time the records had been forgotten, and there was confusion as to who paid for what…in fact I think it was insured twice each year! As part of the research recently carried out it became clear that the structure belongs to Denbighshire County Council. The Committee set up by Cornwallis West in c 1882 made it clear in a letter copied into the Ruthin Corporation Minute book that the structure was handed over to Ruthin Corporation, of which Denbighshire County Council is the successor body…..


So, why is there a lot of attention on the Peers Memorial St Peter’s Square Clock Tower now?

The structure is listed as Grade 2 and is within the Conservation Area of Ruthin and is about to benefit from funding from the UK Levelling up pot to reconsolidate the structure.

The Clock Tower in St Peter’s Square is an iconic image of Ruthin and used in much Tourist information and promotion.


The Peers Memorial was ‘opened’ in 1883 to celebrate the 50 years of service given by Joseph Peers as Justice of the Peace in Denbighshire.

The image, to the right is the earliest known and is by photographer John Thomas. Supposedly it was taken c 1875, but we know that this is not correct.

The clock tower was funded by public subscription and the ‘committee’ was led by Cornwallis West from Ruthin Castle.
In late 2021 a ‘new’ Committee was set up as it was clear that the monument needed a little bit of tlc.


The  new committee has had a thorough survey of the structure undertaken - including by drone - and the necessary work on each facade has been identified.

Work should start this year - 2024.

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