History and Archive Workgroup

The history of bellringers & bellringing - Carter Ringing Machine


Bill Purvis's involvement

On occasions, the machine is demonstrated and it was on one such occasion that I was first privileged to see the machine in operation. At that time, I was intrigued by the mechanism and requested more information about how it worked. I was informed that Mr Carter left behind notes on the operation of the machine, but no drawings of the parts that made up the machine. In a rash moment I offered to undertake to produce a set of drawings, but would require access to the machine over a prolonged period in order to make measurements and determine just how it all fitted together.

At that time the Stewards of the machine were Alan Bagworth and John Anderson, and John Anderson kindly offered to give me access to the machine at his home for a week. During this time we partly dismantled the machine in order to measure the parts, and took the opportunity to give the machine a good cleaning before re-assembling it. After five days the machine was back in working order and running well.

Having collected my data, I went off home to start producing computer aided drawings of all the parts. For a long time other things took precedence and the project fell into abeyance, but in 2009 I resumed work on the project. With most of the parts drawn up I realised that I had overlooked a number of measurements and so a number of further short visits were made. The drawings of individual parts are now complete and only a number of composite drawings remain to be done.

Further Involvement

Shortly after my stay with John Anderson, both John and Alan decided to stand down as Stewards, and two replacement Stewards were appointed: Alan Berry, who worked at Taylor's Bell Foundry, and Barry Ward who had worked in the Science Museum in Birmingham. Sadly, Barry died just before Christmas, 2009 and a replacement was needed. I felt greatly honoured to be asked if I would undertake this rôle and eventually, at the Annual General Meeting of the Central Council I was appointed Steward.

My first public appearance was actually the day preceding my appointment as the Bell Foundry were having an open day to coincide with the AGM weekend, and I was asked if I would talk about the machine and demonstrate it to those who attended.

Needless to say, the machine performed tolerably, but not 100% reliably, so I have been trying to resolve some of the problems that I became aware of. I created some web pages detailing the problems and my proposed solutions, and hopefully how well they suceeded (or didn't).

A 'personal' project arises because of my lack of the ability to follow a peal by ear. Skilled bellringers can tell immediately if the machine is misbehaving and does not follow the expected course. In order to check the behaviour in the absence of such experts, I am building a computer interface to the machine. This can be inserted into the connection between the machine and the bell cabinet. The computer can then record the sequence of strokes and check these against the expected sequence and report any errors. Once the problem causing the error has been fixed, the computer will then provide a confirmation that the expected sequence is now being followed.

By Bill Purvis - 24th September 2010

  © CCCBR. Material on this website may be freely used for any purpose in connection with the promotion of bell ringing. For any other purpose please contact us, Central Council