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OLDBURY* Christ Church 8, 10½cwt in G - Unringable

Grid Reference 140/990895 Oldbury Church - Source: David Kelly
Postcode B69 4DN
Recordings Short Clip (c.15 sec)

Longer Clip (c.3 mins)
Affiliation Worcs & Districts Assoc
Peals Felstead Database
Sunday None
Practice None
Other Information Unringable, electronic chiming only.

History Of The Bells

Oldbury has moved counties more than most towns! Historically it was in a detached part of Shropshire. It was transferred to Worcestershire in 1844 and to the West Midlands 130 years later. The original chapel, having one bell of 1733, was replaced by a new church in 1840/1 at a cost £4507. The old bell was put up in the new tower, along with a new one cast by Thomas Mears of London. It was decided in June of 1887 to raise the height of the tower and to replace the two bells with a ring of 8. This was completed by December of the same year. The total cost of the work amounted to over £800. The bells, cast by Warners, cost £360 and the frame and fittings cost a further £120. The tower was raised by the addition of a top stage (16ft) with pinnacles (9ft), with sound openings all round. This cost £220 and there were incidental expenses amounting to £120.

The bells were cast with "Doncaster Heads" and hung in a two tier wooden frame, with 2, 4, 6 & 7 above the others. Whitechapel rehung the bells on ball bearings in 1937. Though some 64 peals were rung on the bells they became unringable by the mid 1960s. This was partly due to the excessive tower movement that had always be present. Apart from a couple of times in the 1980s these bells have not been rung since. The church itself was declared redundant in 1991 in order that it could be redeveloped for joint secular and religious use. The nave of the church was converted into offices, the chancel being retained as the parish centre for worship under a licence dated 25 February 1992.

During the course of the conversion work the interior of the tower was gutted up to the bellchamber. A new concrete floor was put in below the bells. The lower stages of the tower are now occupied by a staircase giving access to the offices. The clock was removed, but was later replaced by a modern mechanism which struck the hours on one of the bells. In 2009 a new chiming mechanism was added that strikes on all 8 bells. The clock chimes, strikes rounds and various tunes can be played, including "Here comes the bride" (This can be heard at 1' 35" on the longer sound clip)

The bells are intact but they are now disused as there is nowhere to ring them from and there is only limited access through a small hatch in the new floor.

(Most of the above information is quoted directly (with permission) from the research notes of Chris Pickford)

Details of the Bells

1 John Warner & Sons, London  1887   3¾cwt  25.25"
2 John Warner & Sons, London  1887   4cwt   26.375"
3 John Warner & Sons, London  1887   4½cwt  28.125"
4 John Warner & Sons, London  1887   5½cwt  30.00"
5 John Warner & Sons, London  1887   6½cwt  32.25"
6 John Warner & Sons, London  1887   7cwt   33.875"
7 John Warner & Sons, London  1887   8¼cwt  35.75"
8 John Warner & Sons, London  1887  10½cwt  38.75"

Treble – ‘Given by the employees of the Alkali Works. H D France, Manager. 1887’'
2: ‘Given by George and Alfred Thompson of this town. 1887’
3: ‘Given by Samuel Wright and Agnes Lydia, his wife. “Our hope is in the Lord”. 1887’
4: ‘Given by John Smart Wakeman of this town. 1887’
5: ‘Given by Mary Phoebe Palmer, South Abbotsfield, Malvern. “We praise Thee O God” 1887’
6: ‘Given by Benjamin Hingley, the first MP for this Division. 1887'
7: ‘Given by Alexander Macomb Chance of Oldbury, Birmingham. Queen Victoria’s Jubilee. 1887’
Tenor – ‘Given by Joseph Moore, the first organist of this Church. 1887’

Several of the donors were local businessmen: George and Alfred Thompson were maltsters in the town, John Smart Wakeman an iron merchant, and Samuel Wright a preserve manufacturer.  Alexander Macomb Chance was the Managing Director of the Alkali Works.  Mary Phoebe Palmer was the daughter of William Freeth, former occupier of ‘The Big House’ in Church Street, and the wife of Rev Palmer, who were large landowners in the town.

Photo Gallery

Group of Photos. Source: History of Oldbury, Langley and Warley The Church in 1910
Group of photos about
the bells from a local
history website
(Click to enlarge)
The church in 1910

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