Thursday, March 15, 2007

Mears & Co

One of the previous incarnations of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry is Mears & Co. The Mears family was associated with the foundry for over 100 years spanning the 18th and 19th centuries. I have at last added an old Whitechapel Tower Bell to my collection.

On this blog you can read down from here. All my dates of posting can be ignored!

Collecting the bell

I collected the bell from High Wycombe where it had been sold on behalf of a friend by Jim Wooster. The bell has lurked for years in a garage and no one knows from whence it came. It was in excellent condition. Here we are at the handover.

Cleaning the bell

After a wash with plain old water all I did was to remove a small amount of rust from the headstock with fine wire wool and then again with soft wire wool I cleaned and polished the bell with autosol, a non abrasive metal cleaner recommended by Whitechapel for the cleaning of handled bells and musical handbells. The bell now has a delightful grey colour. Now I shall ponder long on how best to display the bell for occasional ringing and where to put it.

Steel bar headstock

After much deliberation and study of the restored Brockenhurst Fire Bell photo I decided to apply a coat of black paint to the steel bar headstock. Now it's ready for hanging - but how?

Bell hanging and display

Now I want to decide how to hang and display the bell. It will not be rung regularly, but I will wish very occasionally to hear how it sounds. It therefore does not need the kind of frame that would be needed if it was in regular public use.

My three options are:

a simplified version of the type of frame used for the Brockenhurst Fire Bell shown in the photo or like the Lymington School Bell I'm still after.

a frame mounted on a wooden plinth as required for the headstock on the Mears Bell based on the principle used for the cupola bell.

a pair of simple wall mounted brackets within which the bell can sit and be occasionally rung.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Decisions, decisions.

Well, I decided on none of the three options! For the time being it's a do it myself job. Using my elementary engineering skills I decided to mount the bell on a simple wooden frame and to place it in my study window until I decide on a more permanent solution if ever! Total cost of materials is £20. Could have been a lot less if I'd used old timber in stock. But sometimes a chap just likes to splash out.

Here is the frame in my improvised workshop and in it's proposed location. A mid grey coat of paint will follow. Just the bell pull to decide and then I'll have a ring in and leave it to rest for a while in it's new home.

Permanent home?

I've changed my mind again on two counts. This bell is really too nice to go outside and I think after all it will look good in my study. On the right stand.
So next week it's off to Steve the fabricator to discuss a simple wrought iron stand which will provide a safe secure place for the bell. And enable it to be rung on special occasions. I can now keep an eye on it from my computer desk where I am right now.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Unfinished business

Undercoat on and a rather crude assembly requiring bits of card to level things up remind me why I did not have a career in engineering. The bell's now residing on the hostess trolley in the dining room. It's just too big for my study. I'm going to take time to consider a decent outdoor frame. So for now it really is a case of unfinished business.
For the record, the bell weighs 31lbs and has a diameter of 11 inches.
To be continued.....................................................

Monday, March 12, 2007

Whitechapel it is

At long last I've made some progress. In the end it seemed to me that if the bell was made at Whitechapel then they were the ones to make a frame for it. So I emailed the Foundry with photos of the bell and of the frames of the Brockenhurst Fire bell and my Lymington School bell. Whitechapel can make a similar frame for a reasonable price. On Friday 15th June the bell will be on the 8.33am train to London. I'll probably be worn out by the time I get to the Foundry - the bell's heavy! But I'll get some useful exercise.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Frame talk

The bell has arrived back where it began at Whitechapel. Mark and Mandy discuss the arrangements for making the frame. The order is placed - other work in the pipeline could mean a delay of several weeks. But I'm in no hurry.

Saturday, March 10, 2007


On 10 August the bell frame was delivered by Whitechapel. Here it is in its final resting place. How many years will it be there I wonder?