[Bell Historians] Cowper Congregational Chapel in Dereham

wayne francis awf24k at hotmail.com
Tue Sep 28 09:11:46 BST 2021

Hi All

If this is indeed a three train clock where the third train was used to drive a chiming barrel for tubular bells, then that would be very unusual, in my experience.

If you already have a barrel out of the clock, if you take the great wheel off the barrel (usually just a taper pin holds it on via a friction plate) you can examine the face of the spokes that are towards the barrel for cast in initials for T & R (Thwaites and Reed) or T&S (Thwaites and Son)

A photo example attached for a very similar unsigned clock at St Paul's, Cheltenham

Also photos from a signed Thwaites at Welwyn Church, Hertfordshire (with stamped T K S)

From: revpcubitt at btinternet.com <revpcubitt at btinternet.com>
Sent: Tuesday, September 28, 2021 8:05:57 AM
To: 'Bell Historians Mailing List' <bell-historians at lists.ringingworld.co.uk>; 'wayne francis' <awf24k at hotmail.com>; 'Mike Chester' <mikechester at hotmail.com>
Cc: c.j.pickford at talk21.com <c.j.pickford at talk21.com>
Subject: RE: [Bell Historians] Cowper Congregational Chapel in Dereham


This is wonderful information. My father (David) would have been in the Record Office squirreling away for further information. I have a recollection of reading somewhere about the chimes being taken out for refurbishment but cannot remember where.

The additional photographs show a smaller chiming barrel on the floor.


From: Bell-historians <bell-historians-bounces at lists.ringingworld.co.uk> On Behalf Of c.j.pickford--- via Bell-historians
Sent: 26 September 2021 19:04
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Cc: c.j.pickford at talk21.com
Subject: Re: [Bell Historians] Cowper Congregational Chapel in Dereham

Little bit of a breakthrough on this. Have looked at online Kelly’s Directories (via http://specialcollections.le.ac.uk/digital/collection/p16445coll4<https://emea01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fspecialcollections.le.ac.uk%2Fdigital%2Fcollection%2Fp16445coll4&data=04%7C01%7C%7C4b478c1e8ded4006ec6508d9824e7ebc%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637684096300589673%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C1000&sdata=hgV4p7tzRaAdozBAC1GA%2FnMaF05O9tIsEXjQzZ7vVDw%3D&reserved=0>)

1892 and 1896 directories – descriptions don’t mention the tower etc

1904 and 1912 – descriptions mention “tower with clock and chimes”

This suggests that the tower was added and the clock and chimes put up some time between 1896 and 1904. There’s probably a 1900 edition of the directory, but it isn’t online on this site.

Turning to the British Newspaper Archive, I found a report in the Eastern Daily Press 16 February 1897 stating that active steps were being taken to add a tower and spire to the church in accordance with the original design, and to add a clock and chime for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. The plans were approved by the District Council and the Eastern Daily Press of 4 March 1897 noted that “about 36 feet will be added to the height of the unfinished tower, and a clock and chimes to be added”. The plans were by the original architect, Edward Boardman, and the builder was a Mr. Hubbard. The tower was completed and the clock in place by 31 July 1897 when the Eastern Daily Press said it had been “keeping good time for the last two or three days but the much talked of chimes have not yet been heard”

In the Norfolk Chronicle  19 March 1898 it was reported “The chimes, consisting of eight tunes, have been completed in the new tower of the Cowper Congregational chapel. The clock face is to be illuminated by automatic arrangement.” The spire, of course was not built.

The official starting of the chimes on Friday 18 March 1898 was reported in the Eastern Evening News, Saturday 19 March 1898 – “The long hoped for chimes, worked automatically by the Jubilee clock, commenced on Friday afternoon at three o’clock. There are altogether seven tunes - for each day of the week - and the clock will play one tune every three hours, a change of tune being effected each day. On Sundays the tune will be “O come all ye faithful,” and it will strongly suggest invitation to attend the services It is hoped some will embrace the extended solicitation. … [Report of ceremony etc] … The working of the clock, management of the chimes, &c., has been entrusted to Mr. G. B, Cooper, High Street”

Unfortunately, I haven’t managed to find any reports giving the names of the makers of the bells. However, the chiming machinery was evidently by Dent. A note in a report of the town’s jubilee festivities in the Norfolk Chronicle, Saturday 26 June 1897 that “The only disappointment experienced was the non-appearance of the clock and chimes in the Cowper chapel tower, as they had been promised by Messrs. Dent and Son, of London, who had the work in hand for Jubilee-day”.

The clock, though, must have been second-hand if it was made in 1833 (as the style of the mechanism confirms) but not installed here until 1898-8. This is confirmed by a Jubilee report in the Norfolk News, 26 June 1897, which indicates its provenance – “… The tower, which was formerly about 35 feet high, has been carried to height of 70 feet, and is built of rag stone end white stone in harmony with the general material of the building. the top of the tower four pretty pinnacles of white stone, eight feet high, have been erected, the whole effect being most pleasing, and the erection is a great acquisition to the Market place. In the facade of the tower space has been left for a large illuminated clock, which was formerly placed in Ellingham Hall, and it was intended that yesterday morning when the tower was opened Mr. Alexander should start the pendulum of the clock and thus set the works in motion. In this they were disappointed, as the clock, which is in the hands of Messrs. Dent of Ludgate Hill, London, is not yet ready to be fixed.”

It would be worthwhile for someone local to explore the church records for the period to see if these clues lead to any more detailed records of what was done and by whom. There are some missing bits of the story to be filled in. I’ve written this as the pieces of the jigsaw have turned up – so please excuse the lack of polish in the order and presentation of the details.

PS Apologies for top posting earlier (I hadn’t spotted that Mike had shared my first email with the list)

Chris Pickford

Kinver (UK)

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