School bells

Chris Pickford c.j.pickford at t...
Mon Sep 15 17:14:27 BST 2003

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A few thoughts on this:

a) I agree with David Cawley that it's worth recording what you can - fo=
r the record - without necessarily trying to examine every bell in detail.

b) If you're going to prioritise, then any schools with clocks as well a=
s bells should be high on the list - and record the clocks (maker, date, ty=
pe) as well as the bell(s). These bells are likely to be bigger / more sign=
ificant, and less likely to be blank brass-foundry ones. That said, in Birm=
ingham (at least) nearly all the original clocks in these buildings have go=
ne - replaced by non-striking synchronous movements in the late 1950s (a si=
ngle contract to replace the lot!), and the bells sold for scrap.

c) A great many schools of the bell-possessing era have already been clo=
sed, converted to other uses or demolished. To some extent, a survey now is=
30 or 50 years too late (as with other Victorian public buildings, e.g. ce=
meteries where so many bells have been sold / chapels demolished)

d) School bells seem to have a strange symbolic value as links with the =
past, and they are often kept in replacement buildings as relics - harder t=
o trace, as they lurk in strange places (but, in compensation, are usually =
accessible when you find them)

e) There is the possibility that important bells may turn up - old sanct=
us bells given to newly-built schools in the 1850s, 60s and 70s - but these=
are extremely rare. In taking a reasonably serious interest in school bell=
s in three counties I've never found anything like this

In sympathy with our list moderator on this, having just a day chasing synt=
hetic bells (Priory Square), non-striking timepieces and other tail-end odd=
s and sods in Birmingham this weekend. One has to stop somewhere (and prob=
ably well short of all this!!!)

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