The Bells of St Andrew’s Cathedral

The Bells of St Andrew’s Cathedral

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22 August 2019

The Bells of St Andrew’s Cathedral

8 bells leaving SAC in a lorry crane, to be shipped to the UK
8 bells leaving SAC in a lorry crane, to be shipped to the UK

In 1889, the Cathedral received a peal of eight bells from the family of Captain J. S. H. Fraser, H.E.I.C.S. These bronze bells were cast at the John Taylor & Co. Foundry in Loughborough, England, the same bell foundry that cast the bells of St Paul’s Cathedral in London, England. These eight bells, each named after an apostle, have been rung every Sunday for services, weddings, funerals, Easter and Christmas. They are the city’s call to worship, continuing an Old Testament tradition of worship using the clashing sounds of cymbals. They are also a part of Singapore’s heritage of sounds in the civic district landscape.

Arriving in the foundry, after a 1 month sea journey
Arriving in the foundry, after a 1 month sea journey
Old bells refurbished, 5 new bells added, and all tuned
Old bells refurbished, 5 new bells added, and all tuned

These bells have always been rung by the striking of clappers. However Anglican church bells are typically rung by swinging them through an arc of 360 degrees or more to get a fuller sound. This method is called change ringing.

The leadership of the Cathedral was alerted to the potential of these bells. In 2018, we started to raise funds and get the project underway to add the option of change ringing. Experts were called in to ascertain the strength of the bell tower and formal approvals were sought from our various authorities.

Bells with headstock fitted, waiting to return to Singapore
Bells with headstock fitted, waiting to return to Singapore

In Dec 2018, the bells were removed and shipped to John Taylor and Co. in Loughborough, where they were refurbished and five new bells were cast, bringing our set to 13. Meanwhile, repair and restoration works were done to the bell tower.

On 28th June of this year, the new set of bells returned in majestic fashion, lined up on a trailer. A new change ringing mechanism will need to be installed. We expect that installation and testing should be completed in early August.

Arrived in Cathedral on the 28 June 2019
Arrived in Cathedral on the 28 June 2019