[Bell Historians] Warners in Zanzibar

Carl S Zimmerman csz_stl at s...
Tue Nov 30 23:29:16 GMT 2004

At 08:45 +0000 2004/11/30, George Dawson wrote (in answer to my question):
> >
>> Warners also cast a 25-bell carillon for the Cathedral in Zanzibar,
>> according to an old advertisement of theirs. Does anyone have more
>> information about that?
>See my website:

Thanks, George! Your article is very helpful. However, at the risk 
of belabouring the obvious, I'm going to stick my neck out and add 
some comments and speculations of my own.

Warner's drawing must have been done with a bit of artistic license - 
the multiple rows of 5 small bells on the upper level don't show 
enough variation in size. (Also, the perspective is visibly 
inconsistent.) Given the inscriptions which George has recorded from 
the original (not readable on the scanned image on the Web), this 
must be an approximate depiction of what was shipped to Zanzibar, 
probably fully assembled. The arrangement appears to have been 4 
rows of 5 bells on the upper level, and two pairs of big bells with a 
single slightly smaller bell on the lower level. More likely, the 
upper level was 5-5-5-4 while the lower was 2-2-2.

What we see in the belfry photo is at least three levels of 
bell-carrying timbers, apparently dissociated from Warner's original 
supporting structure, probably reduced in length to fit into the 
belfry, installed in a rather haphazard manner. (I can't help but 
wonder why no one associated with the original project thought to 
make sure that the bell frame would fit into the tower at the 

At the lowest level is a row of three bells, with clapper-like 
internal chiming hammers mounted on a separate frame board, 
presumably original to Warner. (The rightmost hammer, however, 
appears to be a local replacement!) At the same level is an empty 
timber, approximately parallel to the first, which once held four 
bells (though three of the holes were re-drilled to change the 
spacing); but there's no visible evidence of support for chiming 
hammers for them.

At the middle level is a row of two bells, at least one of which has 
its chiming hammer on a jury-rigged piece of board. At the same 
level is an empty timber for three bells (one hole re-drilled), 
clearly not parallel to the first. Again there is no visible 
evidence of support for their chiming hammers.

At the top level is a single bell, hung approximately in the center 
of a timber that's crossways to the two levels below. There's no 
chiming hammer visible, but possibly there's an external clock hammer 
mounted on the short wide plank atop the center of the empty 
mid-level timber. There's another cross-timber at the same level, 
but it's not clear whether it ever held a bell - perhaps it just 
supports the edge of a small platform below the clockroom access 

The perspective of the photograph makes it difficult to determine the 
relative sizes of the different levels of bells. But from their 
arrangement I would guess that the largest is at the top (as an hour 
bell) while the three smallest are at the bottom. These three must 
have come from the upper level of the original frame, leaving at most 
three which could have come from the lower level of the original 
frame. If so, then we're not seeing the "largest five" of the 
original 25 (though these five may now be connected to the lowest 
five positions on the chiming machine).

The irregular black splotches on the ceiling are probably oil residue 
from years of over-enthusiastic oiling of the clock in the chamber 
above the belfry. (From what is or isn't visible in the belfry, 
access to the clock must be awkward, to say the least!)

>From the photo of the cathedral, the belfry (below the clock faces) 
appears to have two levels of three lancet openings on each side. 
That matches what we can see in the belfry photo, so it seems 
unlikely that there were any additional levels of bells that we can't 
see. There could have been one, now entirely empty, at about the 
height of the photographer's shoulders above the belfry floor; and 
there could have been an additional bell timber one or both of the 
two lower levels against the wall which is just out of the picture at 
the top. But that's pure speculation.

What we can say (as George has summarized) is that there is clear 
evidence that at least 13 bells were hung in the tower at one time, 
and that only six currently remain. I'm tempted to be disappointed 
not to have more photos, especially of the chiming machine; but I'm 
delighted to have this much information. So thanks for putting it 
all together, George!

I would welcome any additions or corrections to my interpretation of 
the evidence, particularly details from CJP's index of Warner's work.


More information about the Bell-historians mailing list