G&J bell for "Ark Royal"

Richard Offen richard at ...
Tue Dec 13 01:58:43 GMT 2005

--- In bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com, Carl S Zimmerman <csz_stl at s...> 
> Discussion of old handbells on the Handbell-L mail-list has led to 
> the discovery of a mention of a "silver bell" cast by "Gillet & 
> Johnson":
> http://freepages.family.rootsweb.com/~brycefamily/arkroyal.htm
> (Scroll down to the photo of the 4th Ark Royal.)
> The narrative is unfortunately rather unclear about when the bell was 
> actually cast, but it appears to have been between 1945 and 1955. 
> Does anyone know anything more about this bell?

Yes, I remember Wally Spraggett (Gillett's tuner) telling me about 
it. I can't remember exactly when it was cast (I don't think it was 
cast at G & J's foundry, but was certainly cast to their pattern), but 
am pretty sure that it was in the early 1950s.

When cast, it eveidently sounded pretty horrible (silver being a pretty 
soft metal, this is not surprising really!) and so the decision was 
made to harmonically tune it. Wally told me of the huge performance 
this involved: getting the bell out of the safe each morning, carefully 
weighing the bell and every scrap of silver dust produced by the tuning 
process and the procession to return the bell and the day's borings to 
the company safe every evening.

After all this rigmarole, and even with the chief partial tones 
carefully aligned, Wally said that the bell didn't sound all that much 



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