The Bells of St Paul’s Pro-Cathedral Valletta
The spire of the neo-classical style Cathedral rises to over 200 feet above Valletta. Below this spire is the belfry in the detached tower at the northwest corner of the building, and here the six bells, which were cast by C and G Mears of London (now known as the Whitechapel Bell Foundry) in 1845, are hung in a probably locally made wooden frame. It appears that the bells were originally hung so as to allow them to be rung full circle, as is the case with many Anglican churches in the UK. The bells are complete with headstocks, clappers and rollers, but have no wheels, sliders or stays (except a stay on the heaviest bell). It is unknown what happened to these items, as they certainly would have been supplied when the bells were installed in the tower.
At some time a chiming apparatus has been fitted and the bells are now sounded by means of wires attached to the clappers and connected to a home made keyboard situated in the ringing chamber. This keyboard is operated by volunteers from the Cathedral congregation. Visitors (especially bell ringers) are welcome to visit the tower when the bells are ringing, before the 11.00 Sung Eucharist on Sunday.
BELL DIAMETER WEIGHT
Treble 2 feet 4 1/4 inches 717 mm 4 cwt. 2 qtrs. 11lbs 233.81 kg
Two 2 feet 7 3/8 inches 796 mm 6 cwt. 305 08 kg
Three 2 feet 8 inches 813 mm 7 cwt. 1 qtr. 24 lbs. 379.54 kg
Four 2 feet 8 1/4 inches 819 mm 7 cwt. 1 qtr. 21 lbs. 378.18 kg
Five 3 feet 2 1/4 inches 972 mm 10 cwt. 1 qtr. 26 lbs. 532.99 kg
Tenor 3 feet 6 inches 1067 mm 13 cwt. 18 lbs. 669.19 kg
Weights of bells are given in the manner traditional among ringers.
The inscription on each of the bells is:
C & G MEARS FOUNDERS LONDON 1845
HISTORICAL FOOTNOTE ~ C & G MEARS
At 9′-0″ diameter, 7′-6″ high, and weighing in at 13 tons 10 cwts 3 qtrs 15lbs (13,760 Kg), the
hour bell of the Great Clock of Westminster – known worldwide as ‘Big Ben’ – is the most
famous bell ever cast at Whitechapel.
George Mears, then the master bellfounder and owner of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, undertook the casting. Big Ben was cast on Saturday 10th April 1858, and William T. Kimber, was the head moulder responsible for casting the bell.
Following a recent meeting with enthusiastic bell ringers from St Magnus the Martyr in the City of London and Christ Church Hampstead, a scheme to redevelop the ringing chamber and provide a new ring of bells has been proposed. More information to follow.