Font Size




Menu Style


BIRMINGHAM, St John the Baptist, Deritend 8: 10-2-16 in F#

Grid Reference 139/286283 Deritend Churchh - Source: Asstonbrook
Postcode B12 0NB
Peals Felstead Database
Date Lost 1947


A church here was built as early as the 14th century. Despite being in sight of St Martin's-in-the-Bullring, it was a chapel of ease to Aston; located some three miles distant. It was not for 600 years that it became a separate parish and also the parishioners ceased to elect its incumbent. The church was rebuilt in the 1730s and a ring of eight by Robert Wells of Aldbourne was installed in 1776 by Samuel Turner of Whitechapel. They were highly praised for the muscial qualities at the time, but this opinion was not shared by ringers at their demise! A peal of Plain Bob Major was rung on 30th July 1776, the day after the bells were dedicated

The fittings were partially renewed by Blews in 1872, repaired by Barwell in 1895. There was a series of articles about rings of bells in Bell News and this is what is said of this tower in the edition of June 21st 1902:

"St. John, Deritend. Birmingham Amalgamated Society. Eight bells. All by Wells, 1776. Tenor 13 cwt., diameter 3 ft. 5 in. Timber frame. Bells go well. Slight repairs by Barwell, 1895. Soundbows worn. Ropes poor. Methods: Grandsire,  Stedman, Plain and Treble Bob. Sunday ringing on festivals only. Practice: Friday, 8."

The ring was again repaired by Barwell in 1913. The dedication of the bells is reported in The Ringing World of October 3rd 1913:

On Sunday, the bells of St. John’s Church, Deritend, Birmingham, were to have been re-opened, after having been restored and rehung by Messrs. Barwell, of Birmingham. Very serious illness near the church, however, prevented the ringing of the bells, but the Vicar (the Rev. Canon Gonner) preached a special sermon at the morning service from the text, “ I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord.” Touching upon the history and inscriptions of the bells, he said that it was very striking, but thoroughly typical of the time when the bells were made (1777), that there was no word to the Glory of God or His church on them. He pointed out that they recalled the turbulent reign of George III, and the struggle for independence in America. The inscriptions are as follow :—
Treble.—We are placed here in the year 1777. Thos. Cox, Minister.
2nd.— "
Health and Happiness to all our subscribers.” R. Wells Fecit 1777. ’
3rd.—R. Wells, Aldbourne, Fecit.
4th.-—May the town of Birm ingham be ever held in esteem for its Manufact: R. Wells, Fecit.
5th.—R. Wells, Aldbourne, Fecit 1777.
6th —" Wisdom to the Council of the State. Success to the British Fleet.” R. Wells, Fecit 1777.
7th.—“ May Great Brittain ever stand unrivalled in her commerce ” R. Wells, Fecit 1777.
Tenor.—R. Wells, of Aldbourne, Fecit.
The tenor is 11 cwt. 2 qrs. 14 lbs and it is noteworthy that the 3rd and 4th are lighter than the 2nd.

(The scrapping weights do not agree with the last line of this report)

The first peal on the rehung bells had to wait until 1918:


A report of the peal appeared in The Ringing World on February 1st 1918:

The peal, rung on Saturday at St. John's Deritend Birmingham, was the first the bells since they were rehung by Messrs. J. Barwell, Ltd. The last peal rung on them, we believe, was during the passing of tke last century and the beginning of the present, the only one, if we are not mistaken,' to be rung at midnight on that occasion. Since that lime very little ringing has taken place at St. John’s, on account of the bad condition into which the bells had got. Thanks, however, to the perseverance of the tower keeper, Mr. F. Webb, this suite affairs has been altered, and while one or two further improvements remain to be affected when funds permit, it is very satisfactory to know, that the bells themselves are in ringing order again. The peal, which is recorded in another column enabled Mr. James George to add yet another lower to his already long list. 

The church was restored between 1881 and 1891, with sittings for 800 people. Changing demographics and land use meant that the church was closed in 1936.  The following was reported in The Ringing World of April 26th 1935:

"Birmingham Corporation has given notice of its intention to apply for permission to include in the Birmingham Corporation Bill clauses giving power to acquire, by purchase, St. John’s Church, Deritend, and to utilise the site, after the demolition of the building, for the purposes of street widening. The church and tower are built of brick, and there is a ring of eight bells. If the proposal is sanctioned by Parliament, St. John’s parish will be united with that of St. Basil. Deritend bells have no great reputation for tone, but the metal might be used to provide some other church with a good peal."

The last peal on the bells was reported in The Ringing World of June 25th 1937:

On Wednesday, June 9th, was rung what will probably be the last peal upon the bells of Deritend Church. The church, a plain red-brick structure, is scheduled for demolition in the near future, to make way for a road-widening scheme. The bells, a tuneless peal of eight, were installed in 1777 by Robert Wells, of Aldboume, Wilts. They had been silent for some five years, chiefly because, with so many modern peals in the vicinity, they were not considered to be worth ringing. However, with a borrowed set of ropes, and after several afternoons had been spent by one or two of the band in greasing the bells and tightening bolts, the bells were made pealable.
Peculiarly enough, the sixth bell, which is the only bell in the tower to be hung on ball bearings, has the worst reputation for ‘ go.’ The following inscriptions may be of interest:— .
4th.—May the town of Birmingham be ever held in esteem for its manufact. R. Wells. Fecit. . .
6th.—Wisdom to the Council of the State and success to the British Fleet.
7th.—May Great Britain ever stand unrivalled in her commerce."

There was a mention of the church and bells at a Guild meeting in July 1944 - it seems that members thought that the bells had already been removed:

"Reference was made to the removal of the bells from St. John’s, Deritend, and the secretary was requested to communicate with"the Bishop regarding a stone peal tablet erected in the belfry recording two peals, one the first one the bells, rung over 100 years ago It wras suggested that possibly the tablet might be erected in the tower where the bells are installed. St. John’s Church was seriousiy damaged by enemy action and is scheduled for demolition to allow road widening."

However, demolition was delayed by the outbreak of WWII and the church was badly damaged by bombing in 1940. It was demolished in c.1947. The Bull Ring Trading Estate is now located on the site. The bells were removed when the building was demolished. They were taken to Bishop Latimer’s church, where they were stored for some years before being recast by Taylors towards a new ring of eight there in 1957-8. (q.v.).

The following appeared in The Ringing World of May 16th 1958:

The brothers Fcarn, who learnt to ring on the eight bells at St. John's Church, Deritend, Birmingham, which was demolished about ten years ago, witnessed the breaking up of two of these bells at the Loughborough Bell Foundry on April 30th and saw the metal run to make the new seventh and tenor of the new ring of eight for the Bishop Latimer Memorial Church. Birmingham. With them was Mr. Ralph Edwards.
Deritend bells were a complete ring of eight, cast in 1776 by Robert Wells, of Aldbourne, Wiltshire. Their inscriptions are unusual; for instance, the fourth has: ‘ May the town of Birm" be ever held in esteem for its manufact.’ ; the sixth: ‘ Wisdom to the council of the state and success to the British fleet ’ ; the seventh: ‘ May Great Britain ever stand unrivalled in her commerce.' Complete rings of eight from this foundry must be very rare - even the complimentary inscription on the fourth failed to bring Robert Wells any further business in Birmingham!"

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

Details of the Bells

1 Robert Wells, Aldbourne  1776   5-0-25  27.75"   1505.0Hz (F#+29c)
2 Robert Wells, Aldbourne  1776   5-1-25  28.375"  1420.0Hz (Ex+28c)
3 Robert Wells, Aldbourne  1776   5-2-24  29.75"   1261.0Hz (D#+23c)
4 Robert Wells, Aldbourne  1776   6-0-01  31.00"   1138.0Hz (C#+45c)
5 Robert Wells, Aldbourne  1776   6-2-21  32.875"  1010.0Hz (B+39c)
6 Robert Wells, Aldbourne  1776   7-2-13  34.75"    938.0Hz (A#+11c)
7 Robert Wells, Aldbourne  1776   8-3-14  37.75"    841.0Hz (G#+22c)
8 Robert Wells, Aldbourne  1776  10-2-16  40.875"   757.0Hz (F#+39c)
(Scrapping Weights)

Photo Gallery

Deritend Churchh - Source:
Deritend High Street in 1887 Showing
"The Golden Lion" and the Church Tower
You are here: Home Others Lost Rings Birmingham, SJB, Deritend