[Bell Historians] New poll for bellhistorians

Andrew Bull andrew.bull at t...
Thu Sep 2 13:25:01 BST 2004

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I'm just catching up on this after being away.
I have some sympathy with David's position; I too have heard a
well-respected Bell Historian saying he's given up sending updates to Dove,
and we can all point out some inconsistancies with weights that have been
adjusted. However, some recent updates HAVE got through, for example, the
Worcester tenor weight. I took the correct details for my own records, and
asked Andrew Higson what details I should pass on to people like Michael
Wilby and David Bagley for their web sites, and he very courageously said
that the correct details should now be published. I sent the details to
David Bagley, stating the source, and it was he that passed it to Dove,
where it was duly amended. Similarly, George Dawson discovered some slightl=
exaggerated weights for some Oxfordshire rings, and sent them to Dove; thes=
too have been amended.
I do feel quite strongly that there is no point in giving an exact weight
unless the bell in its current state has been accurately weighed. In the
case of Taunton St James, there is no evidence that the bell has been out o=
the tower to be weighed, and there will certainly not be an "as supplied"
weight from the founder! It is extremely unlikely that the bell would weigh
as much as 19-3-14; the figure of 17=BD cwt was calculated using scientific
methods from the diameter, strike-note, position in the ring, and data from
other bells by this founder which have been weighed. Part of the problem is
that there are no sources stated for any of the weights that Ron Dove
compiled, and it becomes difficult to sort out the accurate from the
spurious. Two examples to illustrate the problem from Gloucestershire:
firstly Tortworth. Given as 12-2-25 for the Jefferies & Price tenor, the
bells had been rehung by Taylors in 1959, and the bells had no canons. CJP
checked the job books, and found that the work had been done in the tower,
and the bells not weighed. However, from the strike note and diameter, 12=
cwt was a realistic weight for the bell. I was going to send this up as an
amendment, but was fortunate to be at Taylors when George Dawson was doing
some work in the old job books. Taylors had recast two of the bells in 1871=
and it turned out that they had done a complete rehang, weighed all the
bells, and the back three were without canons. So the weight was correct
after all! Nearby Iron Acton, however, was a different story; the 13-0-23
turned out to be the "as-cast" weight of the FIFTH; the J & P tenor here di=
not leave the tower, and probably weighs about 15=BD cwt.
As to approximate weights, I think care needs to be taken here too. I would
be very much against the tenor of (say) an old five in darkest Somerset
being quoted as "21 cwt" if it has accurately been measured as 44=BD inches
diameter in E. The method I use to calculate approximate weights is weight
in pounds =3D diameter raised to the fourth power x strike note (half nomin=
in Hertz x thickness constant. The thickness constant will vary depending o=
founder and position in the ring, and can be calculated from known bells;
the method relies on this and accurate measurement of diameter.
In the case of Taunton St James, I think the onus is on the locals to
provide a source for the 19-3-14. My betting is that there isn't one. A
similar case in point is Shepton Mallet, 24-3-25 in E-flat in Dove. The
tenor is by Thomas Rudhall, 1773, last rehung by L & J in 1910, and has bee=
measured by Matthew Higby as 51=BC inches in diameter. My calculations
indicate that the likely weight is 23=BD cwt, and comparison with other
Rudhall tenors that have been weighed indicate that the bell would need to
be about an inch bigger to be 25 cwt. Both Chris Pickford and Chris Dalton
searched their records for me, but were unable to come up with an exact
Andrew Bull

-----Original Message-----
From: David Bryant [mailto:david at b...]
Sent: 01 September 2004 12:08
To: bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com
Subject: Re: [Bell Historians] New poll for bellhistorians

> And it is not helped when, as soon as somebody who claims=20
> expert status is told, perfectly politely, that the=20
> information he has provided is valuable but the compilers=20
> would prefer to have it confirmed in the accepted way,=20
> then he immediately conducts a 'straw poll' to try=20
> and undermine that system - which it won't because the=20
> only polls that matter are taken scientifically: this one=20
> isn't .

Petty comments like this do no good either. I was not intending to=20
explain the specific circumstances leading to this poll, but let me=20
now do so:

1) I have several times attempted to get the tenor weight given for=20
Taunton St James altered from 19-3-14 to 17=BD cwt, as 19-3-14 is=20
clearly wrong. The bell (by Thomas Pennington of Exeter 1626) is=20
short-waisted, no canons, and only has a diameter of 47", in E. It=20
cannot possibly weigh 19-3-14. John Baldwin has consistently refused=20
to change it unless I get the opinion of the local ringers. This is a=20
general policy, and I cannot understand it. Why should the opinions=20
of local ringers, who in most cases will not be familiar with aspects=20
such as weight estimation, be given such credence?

2) A very well known and prominent bell historian has recently told=20
me that he no longer bothers sending corrections to Dove, as on one=20
occasion the compilers saw fit to put what the local ringers wanted=20
in preference to the information supplied by the bell historian,=20
which was fully backed up by evidence.

Bell historians are the largest group with the technical expertise to=20
be able to contribute to Dove. If the compilers repeatedly ignore=20
their submissions in favour of uninformed local opinion, then throw a=20
tantrum when the policy is questioned, then I'm sure increasing=20
numbers of us won't bother to help, and 'Dove' will increasingly=20
become a work of fiction rather than one of fact.

So, what do others think the above bell weighs, then?


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