The Ormerod Bells


The bells in the tower of St Mary's Church, Manchester Road, Nelson, were named after their sponsors the Ormerod Family, who worshiped at the church. A booklet, printed by the Church, entitled "The Ormerod Bells", was once available for purchase by visitors to the Church.

The Bishop of Burnley, the Rev. E.P. Swain, dedicated the Bells of St Mary the Virgin, Nelson, on 3 October 1933, at 7:30 p.m. 700 people filled the Church, and many more people were gathered outside to hear the first chimes.

When the bells first arrived, the Rev. H. H. Candler had them paraded around the parish on a lorry, headed by the Church Lads Brigade and accompanied by a cheering crowd.

The peal, based on a tenor of 24 cwts, giving a note "D" in the scale of  "C", comprised ten notes in a diatonic scale and one semitone (G sharp).

The total weight of the bells was 5 tons, and with frame about 9 tons.

There were 11 bells, and the inscriptions on them were:

Tenor: "Ormerod, to the glory of God this bell the foundation of the peal was given by the late Ann Ormerod in loving memory of her late husband, John";

2nd: "Walton given by Henry Mancknols, Walton Trustee";

3rd: "Given by the Congregation";

4th: "Townsmen, given by the Townspeople of Nelson";

5th: "Prosperity, given by the Tradespeople of Nelson";

6th: "Given by Albert Henry Candler, 5th Vicar, and Thomas Bardsley, Vicar's Warden";

7th: "Given in Pious memory of all founders of St Mary's Church & Congregation";

8th: "Given by friends of St Marys";

9th: "Given by the Mayors of Nelson" (with Coat of Arms & names & years of office);

10th: "Given by Textile Workers";

11th: "Given and paid for by the Children". (Adding to the note of this bell were two farthings placed inside the bell. Some of the children had subscribed farthings and two had been placed inside the bell in recognition of their act of devotion.)

The bells were made to ring by hammers operated from a key board rather than being swung by ropes.

The bell founders responsible for the manufacture of the bells were John Taylor & Co., Loughborough. The tablets were manufactures by Tonks (Birmingham) Ltd.

The last peal was played in 1988 by a Policeman using his truncheon. He was on traffic duty as the bells were brought down to transport them to York - they hadn't been rung in Nelson for a year or two. A giant crane was then used to lift them from the church tower for their journey to York

The bells began to ring out again on a daily basis in 1990, in their new home at York Minster. Their re-dedication in the Minster was attended by 200 people from East Lancashire.

The parade of the Ormerod Bells around the parish of St Mary's, Nelson, in 1933

The above article was researched and written by Ron Ormerod