[Bell Historians] Carrs of Smethwick

Mike Chester mikechester@hotmail.com [bellhistorians] bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com
Fri Jan 10 15:18:11 GMT 2020

Many thanks for this.


From: bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com <bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com> on behalf of 'Chris Pickford' c.j.pickford.t21 at btinternet.com [bellhistorians] <bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com>
Sent: 10 January 2020 14:20
To: bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com <bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com>
Subject: RE: [Bell Historians] Carrs of Smethwick

It’s a complicated story, but the firm continued with some involvement in bells and bellhanging well into the 1950s – but by then (and from the later 1920s really) it was only a small sideline to a business dealing mainly with other metalwork. The firm finally closed down in 1963/4 and the site was sold for redevelopment.

As a simple answer to Mike’s main query, Bill Butler says in his accou8nt of the firm (in Musical Handbells pp.96-102):

Their advertisements for church bells and bell hanging continued weekly in The Bell News till the final issue of that paper on Christmas Day 1915, and in copies of The Ringing World from the first in 1911 to the 999th in May 1930. After this date they ceased to take an interest in bells, although the firm was still advertising in trade journals up to 1960.

The bellfounding side was really the speciality of J.J.W. Carr who was in charge from the time of Charles Carr’s death in 1891 until his own demise in 1924. After that the firm cast very few bells, although J.J.W. Carr had supervised the casting of a 35 cwt bell for Demerara only shortly before his death. The sale of his 1891 theatre bells – a maiden peal of six of which he was especially proud! – to Pensnett and the addition of two ill-tuned trebles there in 1926 really marked the end.

I know of no dated bells after 1926 (Pensnett and Small Heath / Sheldon as Mike says), but they supplied a blank bell to Norton (Stourbridge) in 1929.

Taylors provided some bells for Carr’s (and its subsidiary the Non-ferreous casting company) in the late 1930s, but the orders always stated “please do not cast your name on this bell” and Taylors were never told where the bells were to be hung. Tyseley is one example, 1939

But they continued with Bellhanging, doing work (mostly minor) at Aston Cantlow (1932), Aymestrey (1938), Wolverley (19148) and Cookley (1949) – and they tendered for St.Chad’s, Birmingham, in 1939. A letter to Taylors regarding Ipsley bells in 1957 came from V.H. Horsley who was church treasurer and also a director of Carr’s. By then the Smethwick firm, still proud of its bell work, had more or less given up any interest in future orders.

There’s a lot of work behind this hasty summary. One day, I might find time to write it all up!

Chris Pickford

E-mail pickford5040 at gmail.com

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