Ex-Blackburn bells move again

Carl S. Zimmerman csz_stl at ...
Fri Sep 9 04:20:10 BST 2005

Once upon a time, there was a ring of 8 bells at St.Michael & All 
Angels, Blackburn, Lancs. Dove/1976 listed them as 12 1/4 cwt in F. 
Dove/1982 omitted this entry, from which I deduce that the bells had 
by then been taken down (the church was demolished) and were in 
limbo. Dove/1988 (p.190) mentions that the bells went to Houston, 
Texas, USA, "but were not after all hung for ringing", from which I 
deduce the existence of some failed plan. (Who made those bells, and 

Other sources eventually reported that in 1984 the bells were 
installed at Trinity Episcopal Church, The Woodlands (a wealthy town 
north of Houston), with three bells hung for swinging by motor and 
the other five hung dead.

Corrections and additions to this historical sketch would be most welcome.

En route to the NAGCR ringing course and AGM in Houston last week, I 
stopped in The Woodlands to find out more about these bells. To my 
surprise, both bells and tower were gone. Here's the story which I 
pieced together from several people's recollections:
In the early 1980s, Trinity was a mission, not yet a parish. The 
first vicar had a brother who was an antiquarian; he bought the bells 
at an auction in Houston (or was it in England?) and gave them to the 
young church. In 1984, the bells were hung (as described above) in a 
two-dimensional open steel frame adjacent to the new church building. 
Some years later, the electrical controls for the bells failed, and 
were not repaired, silencing the bells.
By the turn of the Millenium, Trinity had outgrown its building, 
and could not expand on its property. In a complicated 3-way real 
estate transaction, Trinity sold that property to a smaller church 
and purchased its present property from a Methodist congregation 
which had outgrown it and was building a larger new facility 
elsewhere. Trinity took down the bells and their tower and moved 
them to the new property, but did not have the funds to re-erect the 
tower at the time.
Neither the funds nor the time arrived. Early this year, Trinity 
sold the 8 ex-Blackburn bells to the Verdin Company, for US$20,000. 
(I've dispatched an inquiry to Verdin to find out what they have done 
with them.) The frame was sold to a nearby Catholic church for US$1 
on the condition that they haul it away.
The strangest thing about the situation is that Trinity still has 
two peal boards from St.Michael hanging on the wall of its conference 
room! Why these boards traveled with the bells seems to be unknown. 
I told the AGM about this finding, and on Sunday morning I drove back 
to Trinity, accompanied by Bruce and Eileen Butler, former President 
and Education Officer (respectively) of NAGCR. We found the boards 
to be most impressive. One records a peal from 1915, while the other 
is a framed set recording 6 peals from 1921 to 1923. (Links to 
photos of the boards are given below; I won't discuss their texts 
now.) The Butlers and I tried to impress upon the people with whom 
we spoke the historical importance of these boards. While we didn't 
actually ask for them, we did try to leave the impression that if 
Trinity should ever decide to dispose of the boards, they should 
contact NAGCR for advice in finding a suitable destination for them.

Single peal board (230KB):

Group of 6 peal boards (278KB):

Carl Scott Zimmerman, Campanologist
Avocation: tower bells: http://www.gcna.org/ (Co-Webmaster)
Recreation: handbells: http://gatewayringers.homestead.com/
Mission: church bells: http://www.TowerBells.org/ (Webmaster)
Voicemail: +1-314-821-8437 (home) E-mail: csz_stl at ...
Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - - 19th c. home of at least 33 bell
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