[Bell Historians] Re: Dove and Doncaster heads.

Andrew Aspland aaspland at wLqKFBhfgEtn37QjZ5jYCIkhbiqMdbGIztDE30yKeze-5gO0F80vn0MLeDfradhbE_DQq9ehyNwbvw.yahoo.invalid
Wed Feb 3 22:55:39 GMT 2010

On Dove Petham are listed as all flat headed.  Could someone with the knowledge amend this?

From: David Cawley 
Sent: Wednesday, February 03, 2010 6:48 PM
To: bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com 
Subject: Re: [Bell Historians] Re: Dove and Doncaster heads.


I agree with Chris (below) and John on this.

The earliest use I have found of the idea of having radial canons, which is essentially what Doncaster Heads are, is at Beetley, Norfolk, where the local Dereham founder placed four canons on the two smaller bells of an old ring of five and six on the larger bells. The layout of the canons on the smaller bells is identical to the Doncaster head which Denison prescribed for Doncaster's new ring of eight in 1858, i.e. four short canons at right angles with a solid central argent. In this case the staple was cast in. These two Beetley bells now form 7 and 8 of the light eight there and still retain their Mallows / Doncaster heads. Of the other bells, 3 was scrapped in 1974, as was 5 in 1907. The crown, radial canons and the inscription band of the 4th are in private hands, saved partly because of the remarkable cypher inscription and partly because of the possible earliest use of radial canons. Like their Victorian counterparts, the canons are low and of larger section that conventional ones on bells the same size.

On CJP's query about "short" canons, I don't think there is a definitive answer. I think that John Taylor & Sons started using the "low angular" type in the mid-1850's (my earliest date, from memory is Davington, Kent in 1856, for details see Dickon's site, kent.lovesguide.com  I have seen this with both a radial and standard arrangement, always with a solid argent, usually with a centre hole for an independent staple. I am pretty sure that Taylors never used "Doncaster" heads themselves, even to please Denison, who became their great patron in 1859. They were on to flat heads for their heavier bells by the 1870's.

Warner's of course, were the first to use the "Doncaster" head as designed by Denison, but retained their tall angular canons with solid argents in use right up to the late 1870's. Readers will remember CD's picture of the Star Street bells - cast in 1861 - the front four with angular canons and cast in staples and the back four with Doncaster heads and independent staples. Whilst I've seen a mixture of flat-headed and canon ((or indeed Doncaster) headed bells, I dop not recall a ring of one date with all three features.

I'm open to correction, but think Mears started jusing the Doncaster Head after Arthur Hughes became manager in 1884. Their earliest ones have cast-in staples, and they were still using them quite regularly (with independent staples) up to c1920. The front five of the first Mears Simpson six at Petham and Canterbury Cathedral old trebles of twelve (1923) immediately come to mind, and photos of them are on Dickon's site. By no means all of Mears' customers were sold on Doncaster heads - for example he was supplying four bells to George Day of Eye, Wymondham Abbey, Norfolk, in 1905 - specifically with standard canons; and, for good measure, with cast-in staples.

Gillett's in their various incarnations used Doncaster heads from the outset. The earliest I have seen in the larger bell at Christ Church, Ramsgate, Kent (1878). Yet they came back in 1884 to recast the smaller Mears bell of 1847 and provided tall angular canons. Images on Dickon's site - you have to go to "Lists" then to "Gillett & Johnston" and so on from there. Like Taylor's, they were nornmally using flat heads by 1900.

I don't think I've ever come across Doncaster heads on Llewellins & James bells. Their canons were square in section, of standard form and layout, and again they were moving to flat heads by the early 20th century.

The other founders I've come across using them include James Shaw of Bradford (a much taller form) and Thomas C Lewis of Brixton. When his ring of six at Shipbourne, Kent (1880) was restored in 1993, these remarkable bells were left untuned and they retain their Doncaster heads. CJP will probably comment of the Birmingham founders.

Interesting to read CJP's remark that "the real distinguishing feature is a lack of argent". It all depends on how the argent is defined; certainly we think of it of being a central loop around which the canons are arranged. I have always maintained that with the angular (high and low) and Dioncaster types, the central boss around which the canons are arranged is a "solid argent" - with or without the central hole, as Chris says.

In recent years, when canons have been specifically requested, Whitechapel have used the Doncaster head; Taylors have used a form or their standard arrangement angular head.


  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Chris Pickford 
  To: bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com 
  Sent: Wednesday, February 03, 2010 3:56 PM
  Subject: Re: [Bell Historians] Re: Dove and Doncaster heads.


  I'm with John on this one - keep "Doncaster" as a specific and readily identifiable type. 

  Besides, with the 6 canon types it's not so much about "long" and "short" as Rod suggests, but about the later types having a) no argent and b) a centre hole for a crown staple. The real distinguishing feature is the lack of an argent - but argents are, of course, normally concealed by the stock and so identification becomes tricky for those who aren't sure of the crucial differences between the types.

  I'm not sure I agree with Rod about the evolutionary sequence here - whether "short" canons prrceded Denison's invention of the "Doncaster" head or not. It may be covered by Elphick or Jennings (haven't checked) - or maybe DLC can give a definitive answer


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