[Bell Historians] Taylors and timber headstocks
davidbryant at h...
Tue Jan 25 09:22:56 GMT 2005
As Ben says, Taylor's introduced cast iron headstocks in 1892 at Egmanton
and they became a standard fitment almost immediately. The cast iron lowside
frame was also first used in this year, at Dumbleton, Glos (although
interestingly with timber stocks). The H frame had been in use for several
years by then, initially with timber grillages and later with RSJs. I'm not
sure exactly when timber was ditched in favour of steel for the frame
foundations, but it was at some point in the early 1890s.
Taylor's had occasionally used cast iron in frames as far back as the 1850s;
the 1854/5 frame at Kingweston, Som, has a mixture of H and high-sided A
castings, on timber grillages. The 1857 frame at Baldersby, N. Yorks, has
some high-sided castings. They can't really be called H frames as they have
two upright sides and diagonal braces crossing in the middle. The top tier
of this frame has some lowside castings, but these so not have substantial
ribs like the lowside castings introduced in 1892. I'm not sure what date
the Baldersby castings are. They might be of 1857, but equally they might be
of 1890 when several of the bells were rehung and the frame was clearly
modified quite a bit. Has anyone looked in Taylor's records to see which is
Other contractors used timber stocks much later. I believe Whites were the
last to use them as standard fitments. If I remember rightly, Rendcomb, Glos
(1977) was the last time they used them before switching to using metal
stocks as standard.
I am talking about ringing bells here, just to make that clear. Use of
timber (more recently usually iroko) for chiming bell headstocks and
deadstocks has continued without a break to the present.
More recently, there have been instances of heritage restorations where
timber stocks have been fitted to ringing bells. St Paul's Cathedral springs
to mind, where Whites fitted new timber stocks to the treble and 5th during
the restoration a few years ago.
Turning to Alan's initial question, I would be very cautious about dating
the tenor stock at Clapham to 1930 without documentary evidence (i.e. the
Taylor records). It is entirely possible that the canons had been removed
from the old bell and it had been rehung on a new stock before 1930, and
that this stock was reused.
Arncliffe, by the way, were done in 1922 - new gudgeons and bearings on the
two trebles, new cast iron stock on the tenor. Unusually for Taylor's, they
fitted the cast iron stock (and presumably removed the canons) in the tower.
Presumably this was because of the hilly terrain and the difficulty of
transporting a bell of about 15 cwt over it in 1922. I've not rung at
Clapham, but I'm sure they will be better than Arncliffe because they have a
modern tenor and because they will be in tune (I assume to, anyway).
Arncliffe are not in tune - about all you can say is that the notes get
flatter as the bells get bigger. I might be wrong, but I think it was about
a tone between the front two and a semitone between the back two. I wouldn't
swear to this without going back there, though.
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