Oh Yay Oh Yay – The Canterbury Cathedral Bell Switch

28th November 2018

Canterbury’s famous Great Dunstan bell will be mostly silent for the next 18 months to allow for urgent restoration work on one of the cathedral’s clocks which means, Bell Harry in the central tower will take over the call to service.

It took just under three hours to carefully remove the clock face on one of Canterbury Cathedral’s iconic towers this week and carefully lower it to the ground before it began the journey north to clock specialists in Cumbria for its makeover.

It is 90 years since its last overhaul so the cathedral has taken advantage of the current scaffolding to bring it down and send it off for the dial to be cleaned, the clock mechanism restored, and the Roman numerals and hands re-gilded by the Cumbria Clock Company.

The clock mechanism, by clock makers G.F. Vale of London, is considered one of the finest examples of workmanship. Made in 1855, it was converted in the 1980s to be driven by electric motors. These are now to be stripped out and the mechanism restored to a pendulum movement and it will be fitted with an automatic wind mechanism.

But no clock mechanism means that Canterbury’s most well-known bell, The Great Dunstan will be largely silent and not heard striking the hour or being rung for service.

Bell Harry in the central tower will take over as the call-to-service bell during the 18 months that the work on the clock is expected to take.

The absence of the clock dial will also allow vital work to be carried out on surrounding stonework on the west towers, currently the focus for The Canterbury Journey restoration project.The cathedral bell ringers will be able to ring other bells following a short period for this restoration.

The cost of cleaning the dial is being met by The Canterbury Journey project and the cost of restoring the mechanism by a donation from The Guy and Elinor Meynell Charitable Trust. The Trust has been a generous supporter of the Cathedral since 2013 through The Friends of Canterbury Cathedral.