Ellacombe bells

St. Andrew’s Church Lutwyche is once again on the world stage with their participation in the upcoming bicentennial of a major innovation in bell ringing.  We will be the only participant in Queensland, one of seven in Australia with more than 80 around the world.  The event is scheduled for noon on Saturday 26th June and will consist of a half hour demonstration of change ringing (St Andrews style) and tunes.  The community is invited to bring a rug or chair and sit on the front lawn of the Church in Lutwyche Road, Lutwyche to enjoy this spectacular event.

The Ellacombe Bells Worldwide Celebration will honour the 200th anniversary of Rev Ellacombe’s invention. The Celebration will commence in New Zealand pass westwards through Australia; UK then on to the Americas and finishing 17 hours later in Vancouver Canada.  

The Ellacombe system is an apparatus that enables one person to ring all the bells of a Church.  Each bell is struck while the bell is in a static position instead of the bell being rotated. The apparatus was invented by the Revd. Henry Thomas Ellacombe while he was at St Mary’s Church, Bitton UK (located between Bristol and Bath).

St. Andrew’s Church has 13 bells in the bell tower which was the largest carillon in the Southern Hemisphere when it was built. The 13 bells comprise of an octave of 8 bells, middle C to High C, and 5 extra sharps / flats that allow the bellringers to play approx. 200 hymns. It is operated by a hand pulled clavier keyboard, strung by wire to the Ellacombe system to ring the bells. In addition to the system, an electrical apparatus was made by Synchronome to electronically play the Westminster Chimes quarter-hourly, however this is no longer operational. The bells for the Westminster Chimes weighed in all 1250.7kg with the largest weighing over 305kg and the smallest 57.1kg. All 13 bells were founded between 1925 and 1937 in Loughborough UK by John Taylor and Co.

For many years the bells at Lutwyche were broadcast regularly on national radio on Sundays also for Church services, Easter, Christmas, Weddings and Funerals. The bells have also rung out on Brisbane’s Northside on special occasions such as celebrating VE Day again on VP day, and again on VP day, for the first visit of the Queen to Australia (a radio hook-up to the airport was needed for this) for the musical tribute celebrating Sri Chinmoy’s years of dedicated service to mankind and the centenary of Australia’s Federation.

Photographed at the keyboard are the oldest and youngest bell ringers, Robbie McKimm (52 years’ service) and Rowan Yates (16 years service). Rowan and his brother Hans (23 years service), are third generation bellringers, their parents, Sheryn and Stephen Yates, both played for over forty years and their grandfather Arthur Bang played for sixty-five years.