Tag Archives: Perth

Ringing the Bells to Say Goodbye to Australia

When I attended the Perth shore excursion lecture on the ship, the pictures of the Bell Tower that is located on Perth’s Esplanade intrigued me. So I took the early morning train from Fremantle up to Perth. I chose to walk from the central train station down to the Barracks Street ferry dock where the Bell Tower is located. During my walk it was fun to see all the new construction that is progressing in Perth, quite a blend of the old and the new.

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According to the pamphlet that the site provided, the Swan Bells residing in Perth’s Bell Tower come from one of London’s most famous churches, St. Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalger Square. Many of the christenings within the Royal Family have been conducted at St. Martin-in-the-Fields.

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The Bells of St Martin have rung out over the past 600 years to mark historic occasions, including England’s 1588 defeat of the Spanish Armada, Captain James Cook’s homecoming in 1771 and World War II victories. They have welcomed in the New Year for more than 275 years and rang more recently for the September 11 and Bali bombing tragedies.

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The twelve bells of St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London were given to the people of Western Australia, the University of Western Australia, and the city of Perth to commemorate Australia’s bicentenary in 1988.

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These twelve bells were cast between 1725 and 1770. An additional five specially cast bells were also presented, including one from the City of London, with help given by the City of Westminster, and three bells bestowed by a consortium of British and Australian mining companies. Completing the ring of eighteen, a sixth new bell was commissioned by the Western Australian government. This completed Western Australia’s Millennium Project, the Swan Bells.

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Above and below are pictures of the eighteen bells when at rest, upside down. The Bell ringers put each bell into this position when they have finished their duties on the Bells. It is not as easy as it looks to ring the bells using ropes two floors beneath the location of the bells.

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The Bell ringing volunteers are all members of St. Martin’s Society of Change Ringers. They practice their art at the Bell Tower, which is the first designated Ringing Centre outside the United Kingdom. If you are a fan of the British television series Midsomer Murders, there was an early episode that was staged around the bell ringers’ competition between local villages. It was watching that episode that piqued my interest in the art of bell ringing. Little did I know I would have the opportunity to have a go at it. But I was fortunate enough to be available for bell ringing instruction when one of the volunteers showed up unscheduled. It was great fun! And the lady gave me a certificate for my memory book too.

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I also found the Bell Tower to be very interesting, architecturally, so I spent some time having fun with my camera taking pictures at all angles. Hope you enjoy them.

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