[Bell Historians] Moseley Steel Bells

Chris Pickford c.j.pickford.t21 at TAWEvXpOoOPmaHMsD44UH4vlZvIdxRFTovTqCex-1PUca1K_Rl5MDD7Z-AkhRtSwjWlixgC6doxNXvuA1ALTTYXavhzdOg.yahoo.invalid
Sun Jan 8 23:15:25 GMT 2012

Let's be clear about a few things regarding Moseley. 


These bells have had a very chequered history. Although cast in the 1850s
and therefore 160 years old, they have hardly ever been rung. In all, they
have been used for rather less than 20% of their existence - and always
regarded as a "joke ring" musically


Initially "on loan" to St.Marie's, Sheffield, from 1861 until replaced by
"proper bells" in 1874, they were acquired for Moseley shortly afterwards,
However, records indicate that they were not rung much except for brief
periods after rehanging in 1903 and "resurrection" in 1991. They were
certainly silent (derelict and disused) from  about 1909 to 1991.


It's all very well suggesting that they should be preserved as a last
surviving eight (or whatever "significance" people wish to attach to them to
argue the case) but, as Richard Grimmett has said, the possibilities are
limited. Moreover, the protagonists of the current scheme have tried very
hard to find alternative uses for the bells but there isn't much interest
out there. Preservation would entail incurring costs, and that's where
"ideals" interface with reality. Sentiment and practicality are very
different things, I'm afraid. Any idea that they might be relocated
elsewhere - or retained at Moseley - as a ring is pure pie-in-the sky. It
won't happen.


The bottom line here is that whilst the historical significance of this ring
has been carefully considered throughout, even ardent conservationists
accept that it is unreasonable to expect any parish to keep such a ring of
bells. The then CCC considered "listing" these bells long before replacement
was under consideration and decided then that it would be wrong to insist on
preservation for that reason, and more recently the CBC has supported the
current plans. The decision to allow them to be replaced has not been taken
lightly by anybody, and it must, surely, be wrong to oppose it now.


The "litmus test" is whether or not a local band (and local congregation)
would be willing to accept the sort of noise these bells produce week-in
week-out. Would those who oppose replacement be willing to ring Moseley's
steel bells weekly and be content with it? We have seen conservation dogma
reducing the say of local people - those who use and maintain things, and
who meet the costs - to the margins. I personally believe that the system -
while intended to safeguard - has now become too heavily weighted in favour
of preservation to the disregard to practicalities and carefully considered
local choices. This is the sort of case where the views of locals simply
cannot reasonably be marginalised or ignored and I, for one, would not wish
Moseley to be saddled with its existing bells for ever, whatever their
supposed "significance". DACs and their bells advisers do face challenges
and dilemmas, but if I was still the Birmingham DAC Adviser (as I was when
the bells were resurrected) then I would have supported replacement now. 


The revival of ringing there is entirely due to the late Ralph Vines and
those who got the bells ringable again in the early 90s. That activity there
has been sustained for some 20 years with the current bells is really quite
remarkable, but the now established band deserves a better "changeringing
instrument" on which to perform. Leave them alone and let it happen!


Chris Pickford


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