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St Andrew’s, Lutwyche bell ringers on the world’s stage again


“St Andrew’s Church, Lutwyche will once again be on the world’s stage with their participation in the forthcoming bicentennial of a major bell ringing innovation,” says Parish Councillor and former bell ringer, Sheryn Yates

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St Andrew’s Church, Lutwyche will once again be on the world stage with their participation in the forthcoming bicentennial of a major bell ringing innovation, the Ellacombe apparatus

The Ellacombe system is an apparatus that enables one person to ring all the bells of a church simultaneously. Each bell is struck while the bell is in a static position instead of the bell being rotated. The apparatus was invented by vicar The Rev’d Henry Thomas Ellacombe (1790-1885) while he was at St Mary’s Church, Bitton in the UK, located between Bristol and Bath.

Our church will be the only participant in Queensland and one of only nine in Australia, with more than 130 joining in around the world.

The celebrations will commence in New Zealand, and pass like a wave westwards through Australia and then on to India, South Africa, Gibraltar, the Channel Islands, England, Scotland and Wales, The Isle of Man, The Republic of Ireland, USA and then on to Vancouver in Canada 17 hours after commencing.

The event is scheduled for 12 noon on Saturday 26 June and will consist of a half-hour demonstration of change ringing (St Andrew’s style) and tunes on our 13 bells. The community is invited to bring a rug or chair and sit on the front lawn of our church on Lutwyche Road, Lutwyche to enjoy this spectacular event.

St Andrew’s bell system was the largest carillon in the Southern Hemisphere when it was built. The bells comprise of an octave of eight bells, middle C to high C, and five extra sharps/flats that allow the bellringers to play approximately 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 hourly and half-hourly; however, this is no longer operational. The bells for the Westminster Chimes weighed in a total of 1250.7 kg, with the largest weighing over 305 kg and the smallest 57.1 kg. 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, and also played for church services, and at Easter, Christmas, weddings and funerals. The bells have also rung out on Brisbane’s northside on special occasions, such as when celebrating VE (Victory in Europe) Day and VP (Victory in the Pacific) Day; for the first visit of The Queen to Australia in 1954 (a radio hook-up to the airport was needed for this); and, for the Centenary of Federation.

You are very welcome to come along and join in the bell ringing celebrations on Saturday 26 June from 12 noon at St Andrew’s Church, 673 Lutwyche Rd, Lutwyche. Please bring a picnic blanket or chair to sit on the church grounds.

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