[Bell Historians] Moseley Steel Bells

ALAN A J BUSWELL aaj.buswell at GivYvGwayPYrZfjC6ConlvFLqTQOIgtLozmMwlsj2Wkl_lKk9aLeGBssA5tTLMXvYZN5ZKCTNYJrczwGLBy7lMmpXg.yahoo.invalid
Mon Jan 9 09:19:49 GMT 2012

I gather the bells were restored in 1991. Since then 12 quarter peals have been published (i.e. rung) in the R.W., the last being in 2009 (RW page 248). No quarters are recorded from 1961 to this date. Does this classify them as being seldom rung?


 From: Chris Pickford <c.j.pickford.t21 at vBifRL5Dbeo3QePjQLOl9CvzajiOLLbQ9mw5J4hRE7Jdu-dNNc2O886OkBB5Pc-dUAnILdZx-uYkg6uTV5S8cUQd0qjPKQ.yahoo.invalid>
To: bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com 
Sent: Sunday, 8 January 2012, 23:15
Subject: RE: [Bell Historians] Moseley Steel Bells

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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