HANDSWORTH, St Michael 8 Tubular Bells
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History Of The Bells
This church is in St.Michael’s Road, off Soho Hill. The church was built, originally as a chapel of ease to Handsworth Parish Church. There is a tower, added in 1866, and spire at the south-west corner and a turret between the south aisle and the chancel that once held a small bell.
The first stone for St. Michael's was laid in 1852 by Lord Dartmouth, then living at Sandwell Hall. The architect was a local man, Mr Bourne from Dudley, and the church took three years to complete on land which had been purchased from the estate of Matthew Boulton. The church was consecrated in 1855 by the Bishop of Lichfield. It was a somewhat controversial church at the time in that it was very much a "high" church. In December 1888, the "Weekly Post" noted the arrival of the new Vicar, the Reverend H Oswell, "the new Vicar is likely to be favourable with lovers of ritual, and be regarded with aversion by those who suffer from the dread of what they call 'ecclesiastical mummery'. The new vicar is profuse in making the sign of the cross, and a long list of services is read out on a Sunday morning which is quite appalling in its length". Equally controversial, was the reservation of the Blessed Sacrament in a "secret chapel" hidden from view in the south porch.
In 1888 a set of eight tubular bells was placed in the tower, installed by Harrington, Latham & Co of Coventry, these bells cost £100. They were in the key of A flat, the biggest bell being 7'5" long and 3¼” in diameter. The tubular bells were rehung and repaired in 1946 by William Potts & Sons of Leeds, clockmakers, in memory of three parishioners who lost their lives in World War II. Seven of them were sold to a scrap metal merchant in about 1965, and the remaining one was subsequently stolen.
(Most of the above information is quoted directly (with permission) from the research notes of Chris Pickford).
Details of the Bells
8 Tubular bells