not of Notre Dame but of Loughborough.
Yesterday we made the shortish journey from Mountsorrell to Loughborough, needing to be here for a 1pm appointment for a tour around the bell foundry which we had managed to get a place on. We were joining a group of bellringers from Wrexham to find out more about making bells.
The John Taylor Foundry is one of only two working bell foundries in the UK, the other one is in Whitechapel in London. It was run by four generations of the Taylor family until the late 60’s and only just recently the last link with the Taylor family was lost.
Bells are made from a hard alloy of copper and tin which gives a clear and long resonant note when struck.
We were able to go round the whole working site, where bells are still cast in the centuries old fashion……….
a bell case is used to construct the bell cope (outer shape), and a core is made out of loam, clay and manure for the inner shape.
a furnace and the pourer of the molten metal.
The furnace workshop, with many different sized moulds.
About half way along to the left of the central pathway, the sandy floor is loose and can be dug out to form a pit where the bell casing is let into the ground for pouring the metal in. It cools quicker here and if any spills it is contained and doesn’t run around the feet of the founders.
Here letters were being fixed into the mould to mark out the foundry name.
A set of bells with new headstock ready to leave for their new home.
Bell wheels are also made here in the carpenter’s workshop, using beech for the spokes, ash for the inner rim and sapele, an African hardwood for the rim.
This set of bells came from the cathedral in Christchurch, New Zealand, which collapsed during the earthquake a couple of years ago. They were buried under the rubble and amazingly all except one are intact, another has a big chip, but this apparently won’t affect it’s chime. They have been brought here to be refurbished, retuned and one replacement made and will be shipped back to be installed in a new cathedral at some point.
The floor was interesting, it is a woodblock flooring, now worn with a lovely feel and patina. If a bell was dropped onto this floor it will bounce (a bit) and not be damaged whereas a concrete or brick floor may well result in it cracking.
And finally the bellringers of Wrexham demonstrated their craft in the campanile tower, where bells can be tested and tried before being sent off.