Fabricated steel bellframes

Christopher Povey cmpovey at 3...
Sat Dec 14 19:02:43 GMT 2002

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Like Christopher Dalton, this is my maiden speech, too!

Discussion re fabricated steel bellframes

The information on early all-steel bellframes is interesting. Just in case =
it is thought Taylors were too bound up with their superb cast-iron framesi=
des to consider making a fabricated steel bellframe, they did actually dip =
their toes into this pool. I came across an example at Ripple in Worcesters=
hire. Taylors rehung the John Rudhall 6 in 1920 and provided this frame to =
hang them in. I enclose a photo. The frame is beautifully made. Indeed, it =
was the build-quality that caused me to think it must have been made by a c=
ompany well-versed in bells and bellframes. But Taylors? Surely not! I aske=
d Chris Pickford if he knew whether Taylors made an all-steel frame and he =
said he wasn't aware of anything of this type from Taylors. But he said he =
was soon to be checking Taylors' records on another subject and would look =
up Ripple. He rang me after this visit and said the bellframe drawings were=
in the Ripple file. Taylors may have constructed it for experimental purpo=
ses and there may be another one or two elsewhere.

The existence of other early fabricated steel bellframes does beg the quest=
ion about whether these frames should be accorded some sort of special reco=
gnition, on account of their rarity. If English Heritage is currently objec=
ting to the possible removal of a (poor example of a) Taylor 'tall A' frame=
of 1887, because there are only about 80 left, then a Taylor fabricated st=
eel frame must be priceless; similarly G&J and M&S frames of that type, par=
ticularly if they are well-designed and well-constructed. If there were to =
be a proposal to remove the Ripple frame for something else, then this migh=
t go through without objections. Until recently, its manufacturer wasn't kn=
own (or had been forgotten); not even the DAC Bells Advisor was aware. Woul=
d EH go out of its way to investigate its pedigree? There are lots of older=
and more-easily identified items around and there is only so much time in =
the working week. While these frames probably take on the listing of the bu=
ilding to which they are attached, by virtue of them being fixtures, they d=
on't have any individual protection. In the meantime, they could suffer cor=
rosion and other manner of degradation, and slowly become scrap. While we s=
hould be looking after the frames of yesterday, we should also be recognisi=
ng those items of today that will become historical gems of tomorrow. Perha=
ps the CCC Committee members among us could comment on the possibility and/=
or advisability of achieving some sort of listing.

I guess the reasons for the current trend in fabricated bellframes are prim=
arily cost (cast-iron sideframes are expensive and welding now makes fabric=
ation quick and cheap) and secondly DIY (Stephen Ivin made the sideframes f=
or St Thomas, Oxford, for instance).
Chris Povey.
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