Thursday, 12 January 2012

Swan Bells

Today Maurice and I decided to be tourists.  We took ourselves to Perth on the 31 bus, and went to the Swan Bells.  This is a modern bell tower, based on the shape of sails, that houses 18 bells that originated from St Martins in in the Fields, London. 

Swan Bells, with copper sails and modern glass bell tower

St Martins was being damaged by poorly hung bells, and a deal was struck to send the old bells to Australia, in return for sending iron ore to London to cast new bells.  This co-incided with the Swan Bell tower project which was a Millennium architectural project.  We found out some facts about St Martins, as well as the Swan Bells.  I have worked in London for 30 years, and am familiar with St Martins, but did not know that it is the parish church for Buckingham Palace; that it used to be in an area with fields (!) and that the fields it referred to were Covent Garden. I knew that Covent Garden, was originally called Convent Garden because the convent in central London was supplied by its own garden. St Martin was a saint who worked with the poor and homeless and St Martins church continues to work extensively with homeless people, and I have eaten in the restaurant in the crypt, where the profits are used to fund their work.

The Swan Bells tour gave good information about various aspects of bell ringing and time.  It explained how ringing the changes  was done by changing the position of bell No 1,  then bell No 2 etc.  It had a video display of the casting of the new bells for St Martins, where the pouring of molten metal into the bell mould was shown, from the foundry at Whitechapel.  I used to work in Whitechapel, and was not aware of the location of the foundry.  There are meant to be only 2 bell foundries left in the UK - Whitechapel and Loughborough.
A carillion of bells on the viewing platform

The top of one of the inside of the copper sails from the viewing platform

It also had a good explanation of how the concept of the hour was invented.  This was originally an ancient egyptian concept, where they divided the time from sunrise to sunset into 12 units, year round.  This meant the hour was a variable length of time, depending on the time of year.  Our word "hour" comes from the Latin, Horus, and is also the root of the word horologist, which is a watchmaker.

Swan Bells is right on the riverfront in front of Perth city centre.  There is a lovely open space between the Central Business District, and the waterfront, and the tourism assistant explained that the white lines painted on the greensward indicated the location of a new office block that was about to be built on this lovely open space.  This seemed a great pity to Maurice as it would detract from the spacious feel of the waterfront, and the ability of people to view the Swan Bells from a distance to fully admire its design.
Perth CBD from Swan Bells viewing platform.
You can just see the white lines in the left corner, where the proposed development will be.

Glass bell tower showing internal structure

It was a very hot day today. According to the weather forecast, it reached 36degrees. Maurice and I were disciplined and drank plenty of fluids all day.  When we got back to the flat, where Jim had been doing the housework all day long, I made scones as I had promised.  I did regret not making them before Maurice and I went out, because although the scones were lovely, the oven did make a hot room, even hotter. 

Jim and Maurice plan to go for a bike ride tomorrow morning and have decided to leave about 5.30 or 6am, and be back by 8am to avoid the worst of the heat.  Because we had had a busy day, we each collapsed into bed about 9pm so the boys would be fit for their bike ride.

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