[Bell Historians] Chiming profiles

David Bryant djb122 at y...
Fri Sep 6 18:23:10 BST 2002

From: "oakcroft13" <bill at h...>

> I don't know the answer, but I can make two suggestions:
> 1) Ask Andrew Higson

Done that! He isn't sure.

> 2) Start with the date of their first true-harmonic carillon (I'm
> sure Carl Scott-Zimmerman can supply this) and start look at chime
> weights either side of this date until you find what you need.

Thanks, I hadn't thought of doing that. Can Carl or anyone else with the
info provide details of Taylor's early C20 carillons please.

> While we are on the subject, an associated and fascinating question
> is: when did UK bell-founders START casting heavy / tall ringing
> trebles? One assumes it was done to make ringing on higher numbers
> (eight, then ten and twelve) easier. I fear the evidence is all but
> destroyed, in that there are very few extant early peals of eight or
> more left (ref other posts on this list).

Anyone seen the trebles at Cirencester? They're the Rudhall originals.How
about the old ring from St Martin-in-fields? Surely there must be pictures
of these around.

> One could go into a lot of detail on weights and dimensions, but a
> first-cut investigation could probably be accomplished just be
> looking at the tuning of the treble primes in these old peals. It
> could be that in general UK trebles were always cast heavy.

I think they have to be, even with rings of 8, and certainly with tens and
twelves. English founders were accustomed to doing this, and when chimes
became popular in the Victorian era the front bells of these were cast to
ringing weights (e.g. Bradford town hall). Of course, the point Bill makes
about most of the evidence being destoyed is true, although some still
exists - e.g. the Derby Cathedral trebles, which are heavy. The front 5 of
the first 12 at York survive as the back five of a six, and these are what
we would consider chiming profile, and would have rendered the ring pretty
useless from a change-ringing point of view, which is probably why it was
replaced by a new ten. It would seem likely that founders would learn by
their mistakes, so presumably they would realise before long that the
trebles had to be heavier. Making heavy trebles which didn't sound awful was
another matter though, and is surely the reason why some higher number rings
(e.g. Painswick) have had their trebled recast a number of times.

> The fascination of this question is that, had the bell-founders not
> followed this path in their designs (thereby diverging from
> Continental practice), then the work of Simpson and Taylors leading
> back to true harmonic tuning would not have been necessary (though
> the developments in the accuracy of tuning would still have been
> needed, of course).

I'm not sure about that - in the Victorian era not many founders managed
true harmonics, even in the larger bells of rings which wouldn't be subject
to increased weight for the note.


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