[Bell Historians] Big single ringing bells

Chris Pickford c.j.pickford at t...
Wed May 14 08:02:59 BST 2003

It might be worth noting that the redoubtable Jimmy George was for some years THE bellringer at Rugby School. I have no doubt that he rang the bell often and well

----- Original Message ----- 
From: David Bryant 
To: Bell Historians 
Sent: Tuesday, May 13, 2003 3:53 PM
Subject: [Bell Historians] Big single ringing bells

For a while I have been intending to write an article for the RW on large
single bells hung for ringing, and I've now got round to starting it.
However, there is rather a paucity of information so I would appreciate some

Firstly, I have been through CJP's list of heavy bells and extracted those
which are either hung for ringing now or which I am fairly certain were
formerly hung for ringing. (I am including all bells over 40 cwt in this).
Those I have are given at the bottom of this email. If I have missed any (or
any of them were not actually hung for ringing) I would appreciate it being
pointed out. I do not intend to include bells which are hung for slow
swinging as opposed to ringing proper.

Basically, one thread of the article will be that it became more uncommon to
hang large bells for ringing as the C20 progressed, probably because it
takes a skilled ringer to handle a large ringing bell, whereas a slow
swinger can be swung by more or less anyone once they have been shown how.

A few points which are not clear and which I would appreciate anything
further on are:

1) Why some big early C20 (and pretty much all Taylor bells) were actually
hung for
ringing, and whether they were actually rung to any great extent. The fact
that the Rugby bell and the Cohh bourdon have been rehung for slow swinging
and dead respectively suggests not. However, Taylor photos of them show stay
sockets on their original headstocks (did they have Hastings stays?),
indicating that they were intended to be rung to the balance.

2) Looking at the Taylor pictures of the Rugby and Cobh bells, it is clear
that both were hung out from their stocks, as opposed to being tucked up
like the tenor of a ring would be. The Rugby bell at least also appears to
have a considerably oversized wheel. What is the reason behind this? It is
the exact opposite of the earlier type of Taylor hanging at Richards Castle,
where the bell is tucked right up to make it easier to swing.

3) Again where the Taylor bells are concerned, how were they clappered?
Presumably it would not be possible to get the clapper to strike on the
right side unless it was heavily counterbalanced.

Any input much appreciated, and will be acknowledged in the article.


Currently hung for ringing (* = unringable)

*Leeds Town Hall "Victoria" (Hour bell, hung for swinging) 81 0 11 1859
Tong, Salop (Swinging bell) 46 1 00 1892 Taylor
Richards Castle, Hereford 41 2 05 1892 Taylor (a sort of cross between
ringing proper and slow swinging)
Southport, Holy Trinity (Single swinging bell) 40 1 21 1913 Taylor

Formerly hung for ringing:

Cobh (Queenstown) R.C. Cathedral (Bass bell of carillon) 67 2 22 1916
Rugby School 64 2 20 1914 Taylor
Lincoln Cathedral, "Great Tom" (Hour bell) 108 0 00 1835 Mears, Thomas
Gloucester Cathedral, "Great Peter" 59 3 14 1450 Unknown

Possibly hung for ringing (can anyone confirm?)

Tunstall, Staffs, RC church 50 0 23 1928 Mears & Stainbank

Lost bells

Croydon, S. Mary's, Addiscombe 50 2 20 1929 1953 Taylor (was it actually
hung for ringing?)
York Minster "Great Peter" (original bell) 215 0 00 1845 1927 Mears, C & G
Scrapping weight 200 0 14

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