Clangingly close

HAVING been chosen to toll the bells announcing the deaths of Winston Churchill and Harold Holt as a youngster in Adelaide, Ian McLeod can certainly claim a long history of ringing.

Now the chair of the Bell Tower, he’s still passionate about campanology and says there was quite a protocol to ringing the bell to announce someone’s death.

Half of the clapper, which strikes the bell, would be covered with leather so the second half of its ring would be muffled; the two sounds would signify life and death.

Then the bell would be tolled once for each year of the dead person’s life: “In the old days when everyone in town could hear the bells, that’s how they’d know who’d died,” says Dr McLeod.

• Dr Ian McLeod says photographers will learn the fascinating history of bell ringing by getting up close in the Bell Tower.

“They’d count the number of times the bell rang and work out who it was.”

This week the bell tower’s seventh annual photographic competition was launched, with the them “Up Close and Personal” to encourage photographers to get in close to the bells, which are the second-largest collection in the world.

There’s apparently a heap of miniscule historical details about the bells and the history of bells hidden within the walls of the tower, which photographers have been urged to hunt down.

The winner of the peoples’ choice, judges’ selection and youth category will all win a flash Canon camera.

The tower is also eagerly awaiting the casting of its latest addition – the Anzac commemorative bell, which at 6 tonnes will be three times larger than any others in the collection and just half the size of Big Ben.

It was supposed to have been delivered during the last two Anzac days, but has been delayed.

by STEVE GRANT

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