[Bell Historians] Perth

Richard Offen richard at ...
Wed Jun 15 03:12:21 BST 2005

> I rang there in April, and decided that the tower probably moved as 
much as the 
> Institute does, but it doesn't have anything like the height or 
weight of metal 
> in the tower. For one (me) who hasn't rung at very many towers, it 
is unusual to 
> be able to detect tower movement whilst ringing, and I could here.
> Also, make sure you go there on a practice night, because they have 
a bizarre 
> rule that only allows them to ring six bells on Sunday. I believe 
that all eight 
> can only be rung when there isn't anybody else in the church, just 
in case the 
> tower collapses (or something like that).
> -- 
> Paul

David Hird is right, you do feel the floor moving under your feet at 
St George's Cathedral. What makes it worse is the feeling that the 
floor moving your feet one way, whilst seeing the table in the middle 
of the ringing room moving in the opposite direction!

When the ringers drew the Cathedral Authority's attention to the fact 
that we felt that the tower oscillation was increasing, the Cathedral 
Architect went into panic mode and nearly stopped ringing 
altogether. The compromise was reached that we'd only ring the 
front six on Sundays to ensure that the tower didn't lob bricks at 
the congregation as they walked up the path to the Cathedral! We 
are thus allowed to ring eight on Tuesday's when the tower will only 
throw its missiles at the drunks who shelter close by! 

We were only able to ring a quarter on eight for the enthronement of 
our new Archbishop last Saturday because the ceremony was moved to 
the nearby Perth Concert Hall in order to accommodate the huge 
numbers who wished to attend - St George's is not much bigger than 
many 'average' parish churches in the UK.

In order to assess the tower movement, the Cathedral Restoration 
Committee invited an 'eminent' professor from the University of 
Western Australia to do a study on the tower. The events that 
followed were bizarre in the extreme - in a case where, potentially, 
public safety was at stake, would you send three first year 
undergraduates along, unsupervised, to take the required measurements?

The resulting report told us that the tower only moved a couple of 
millimetres and our eminent professor came up with the novel solution 
of mounting the bell frame on pendulum springs in order to compensate 
for the tower movement ...it was quite obvious he had done absolutely 
no research in to what change ringing involved or into the mechanics 
of a bell hung for ringing! If ever I feel in need of a good laugh, 
I get this report out and re-read it!

Thankfully, sense has now prevailed and, at my suggestion, Adrian 
Dempster was brought over to carry out a proper survey of the tower 
and we are currently awaiting the results of his findings.

So you never know George, if Adrian was as frightened as the rest of 
us when he rang at St George's, you may not even be able to ring 
there later in the year! Perth does have other compensations 
however, like the wonderful Swan Bells and superb Margaret River reds 
to make up for the lack of a Cathedral to ring at!



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