Cathedral takes delivery of Australia’s largest carillon

The new bells arrive in Geraldton (Supplied)

St Francis Xavier Cathedral in Geraldton, Western Australia, is now home to the country’s largest carillon, which a local priest says will add a flourish to the town’s soundscape. Source: ABC News.

The 27 bells, which range in size from 40 kilograms to one tonne, were shipped from England to the Geraldton cathedral. The heritage-listed building, with a distinctive striped ceiling, was designed by architect priest Msgr John Hawes and construction started on the building in 1916.

“Every good cathedral should have a good set of bells and Msgr Hawes himself installed a lovely large bell back in 1923 called Great Peter,” Geraldton Diocese director of heritage Fr Robert Cross said.

“So his intention was to have bells in the bell towers so we thought this would be an opportunity to complete that aspect of the cathedral.”

Most of the bells were new but some were originally from a church near London and contain metal that dates back to the 12th Century. They were lifted into the towers of the cathedral using a crane.

Fr Cross said a small part of the arches had to be chipped away to fit the bells into the towers and steel reinforcements were fitted into the towers to handle the weight of the bells.

Andrew Reynolds from the Perth office of John Taylor Bells said modern technology has combined with an ancient craft to create the carillon.

“There is a modern ringing computer that will handle the whole thing,” Mr Reynolds said.

He said there were electromagnetic hammers and electric motors to swing the heavier bells.

“Three of the bells will also be able to swing, which means you have got to get them balanced right — the clappers have to be correctly positioned,” he said.

The carillon cost $250,000, with most of the funding coming from sponsorship by local residents.

Fr Cross said the bells, which will ring on the hour from 7am to 8pm, will become an important part of the region’s soundscape.

“Now not only will we have the wind and the corellas, we will also have the beautiful sound of these bells ringing out over Geraldton. It will bring a bit more character to Geraldton’s soundscape and culture.”

FULL STORY

Geraldton’s Saint Francis Xavier Cathedral unveils country’s biggest carillon (ABC News)

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