As North Tawton residents continue to voice their discontent over the town council’s crowdfunding campaign to repair the clock tower, evidence has come to light that the insurance company refused to pay out due to “inherent defects” in the structure.

In an email shared with the Okehampton Times, the insurance company informed North Tawton Town Council that it could not claim for repair due to “inherent defects” in the clock tower structure, resulting in the degradation of the wooden roof skirt, which was not included in the terms of insurance.

The survey, also seen by this newspaper, concluded that: “the collapse is due to the failure of the decayed south-west strut tenon mortised into the stone buttress. This is likely due to trapped water within the mortise. It is possible that some of the trapped water is due to the poorly fitted lead flashing and water run-off, however the tenon detail will also allow water to become trapped. There are other areas of decay typically in close proximity to the lead flashing.”

These “other areas” include some decay to wallplates and hip ends on the other three corners of the now-dismantled roof skirt and staining on the bricks in the south-west corner — which collapsed — suggesting water ingress.

The survey also noted that there was a missing wall plate on the west side of the clock tower and, though there was evidence of previous repairs, including shoring up the south-west corner with a steel plate, “[it] is corroded, and the purpose is unclear. It is possible the plate hides defects in the eaves beam.”

The town council has previously admitted that the collapse of the roof skirt was due to rot caused by water ingress and the damage was not spotted sooner because the rot was covered by layers of paint.

Following the collapse, North Tawton Town Council has organised a fundraising appeal asking residents to donate towards the cost of the repair of the clock tower, which the council has been informed it is required to fix, also hoping that enough will be raised to cover work on the lych gate which is also in need of repair.

The fundraiser however has been met with some animosity and some residents have started questioning whether the council carried out proper maintenance on the structure which may have prevented the collapse.

Others have also pointed out that the money (£24,000) the council is putting into the repair project is already taxpayers’ money and have asked why they are expected to cover the shortfall at a time when money is already short due to the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

Subsequently, there have been calls from residents for a public inquiry into whether or not the council maintained the clock tower sufficiently.

To support the appeal, make a donation through the crowdfunding website at or send a cheque to ‘North Tawton Town Council’ and post to Clock Tower Appeal, North Tawton Town Council, 14 The Square, North Tawton, EX20 2EP with the chequepayer’s name and address on the rear of the cheque or include a covering letter.