In July 1999, the Australian and New Zealand Association of Bellringers, in conjunction with St Jude’s Church, Randwick, NSW, received a Centenary of Federation grant of $40,778 to restore the frame and fittings on the St Jude’s bells. Their goal was to celebrate the Centenary of Federation on 1st January 2001 with a peal on the refurbished bells.

After taking advice from bell experts both in Australia and overseas, however, it became clear that the existing ring of eight steel bells was no longer fit for English change-ringing due to the bell sound going flat due to the rust and corrosion from pollution and sea air.

A search was conducted for a suitable second-hand ring of eight bells, and negotiations began with a parish in London to purchase their full set. When those bells subsequently became unavailable, to the disappointment of all concerned, the only other option was to purchase five from a parish in Somerset, and augment them with three new bells. Unfortunately, the five bells were not to be available till the latter part of 2000, and that seriously would have reduced the likelihood of meeting the Randwick deadline of ringing a peal on 1st January 2001.

St Jude’s had to make a decision. When the Parish Council and the bellringers looked into the costs again, they found that the difference between a new ring of bells and a second-hand set, which had been cleaned and tuned, was between $15,000 and $25,000. So, after much deliberation, the St Jude’s Parish Council voted to purchase a new ring of eight bells made by the John Taylor Bell Foundry in Loughborough, England, and they were to be about the same weight of bells as the now almost ageing and discordant old steel ones.

New bells for the church, for the community, for the bellringers! What joy! They certainly would have a mellow tone, be in perfect tune, be nice to listen to and easy for learners to ring, and would be a community asset lasting well into the 21st century. They would restore the heritage of the bell tower in the church and give our descendants something to be proud of.

The bells were ordered from Taylor’s of Loughborough, to be shipped from England about September 2000 so that the Bellringers could achieve their aim and meet their promise to ring a peal of over 5000 changes on 1″ January 2001.

The replacement ring of new bells for Randwick was at the higher end of the scale of costs, given that the exchange rate at the time was very much against us. The exchange rate for one Australian dollar was dropping to 40 pence. Furious efforts were made in fundraising. Events and activities included an auction of antiques and old wares donated by members of the public, and sales of mugs with a commemorative logo. The Randwick bellringers contributed some of the money they earned ringing for weddings, and bellringers across Australia made donations to the fund. The biggest earner by far, however, was the “sale” of rights to name a bell.

In July 2000, the bellringers held a fundraising dinner, for which bellringers and their friends did all the cooking and serving voluntarily. Approximately 100 people attended the dinner, which was a most enjoyable evening. Finally there was enough money to go ahead!

Immediately following the dinner the Tower Captain travelled to the UK to see the new Randwick bells being cast at the Taylor Bellfoundry. She also spent time with Taylor’s experts discussing the frame design.

 In September, towards the end of the month, the final drawings for the frame design arrived. After much effort in obtaining quotes, Mascot Steel Fabricators were given the contract to provide the steel cut and drilled to the specifications of the Taylor design. Mascot Steel provided their premises and a steelworker free of charge to assist with the trial assembly of the frame, which was accomplished by volunteer bellringers.

The ship NZ Pacific arrived as scheduled on 4 December 2000, bringing with it the St Jude’s bells in a container donated by P&O Nedlloyd. On 9 December, a parade to celebrate the arrival of the St Jude’s bells was held. A number of St Jude’s parishioners, choir and bellringers took part. Bellringers from the Australian and New Zealand Association of Bellringers (ANZAB) rang handbells. The City of Sydney Town Crier made sure everyone was apprised of the situation and included in the merriment. 

Work continued in the weeks following the parade. The new steel frame was disassembled, galvanised and delivered to St Jude’s the week after the bell parade. The old frame was at last completely removed in late December. It was found that the old 300 mm thick ironbark beams had become rotten in one corner, and would not have lasted all that much longer.

The Randwick bellringers did not quite reach their goal of ringing in the Centenary of Federation with a peal (three hours of ringing) on the new bells, as the new frame was only partly installed, and three bells hung by 1 January 2001.  Nevertheless, the bellringers made an effort, with the help of an unexpected visitor. Just before 3:55 pm, the appointed time for the Centenary of Federation ringing ceremony, a Randwick bellringer was stationed in the tower ready to swing the 7th, the only bell with a clapper. He also had with him a mallet made of suitably soft material to strike the tenor bell. Outside the tower, there was handbell ringing. On the staircase leading to the belfry was a stranger, and below him, one of the St Jude’s parishioners. “Excuse me, Sir!” said the parishioner, “Who are you? You can’t go up there!” The stranger told the parishioner (who would prefer to remain anonymous), “I am going to ring a bell. I am the Bishop!”  Robert Forsyth had come to help us ring in the Centenary of Federation!  The St Jude’s bellringer chimed one bell and the Bishop swung one new bell so it rang, to welcome all the bells to Randwick.  Later, the Bishop was seen walking around the St Jude’s grounds with graphite-coloured palms of his hands – the graphite was on the outside of the bell he had swung.

A few weeks after New Year, most of the really difficult work was completed. All eight new bells were hung, and the bells were functioning and being rung to announce Sunday services, to celebrate weddings, and toll for funerals; so ensuring the continuation of St Judes’ proud and long tradition of bellringing that began in the 1860’s. 

NOTE: In the tables below, the weights of the bells are given in the imperial system.  This is the way it is with bells.


1 hundredweight is 50.8 kg

1 quarter is 12.7 kg

1 pound is 0.45 kg

The City of Sydney Town Crier at the Bell Parade
Old steel bell in damaged old wooden frame
In order to remove the big old tenor bell, it had to be tilted.
It was hard work getting that tenor bell out!
The old bells were quite an attraction.
The old bells were farewelled in the traditional way by the bellringers - they actually sacrificed three cans of beer!
The new bells lined up for the hallowing of the bells
The clergy, accompanied by the Federal Member for Wentworth, Andrew Thomson, led the Bell Parade to the church
The bells were hallowed by the Bishop
Shiny new bell - this is a smallest one (weighing about 211 kg) - going up to its place in the tower

Weights and details of the old St Jude's Bells

Old Bells Details

Bell NumberWeight (with headstock – weight approx 3 qtr))YearFront Rear 
34 - 3 - 181860NAYLOR VICKERS & CO 1860 SHEFFIELD
44 - 3 - 181862PATENT NO 4013 NAYLOR VICKERS & CO SHEFFIELD 1862
57 - 1 - 131861NAYLOR VICKERS & CO 1861 SHEFFIELD
67 - 2 - 231861NAYLOR VICKERS & CO 1861 SHEFFIELD
710 - 0 - 51862PATENT NO 3142
816 - 3 - 241864Mr AT CARPENTER
NO 3948

New Bells Details

New bells
Weights in hundredweight-quarters-pounds
Treble: wt: 4 - 0 - 18; diam: 2’2”; note: F#
(smallest bell) In loving memory of Rebecca Mary Alexander 20th October 1981 - 7th October 1999
2nd: wt: 4 - 0 – 24; diam: 2’2 1/2 “; note F
Be RUSTY Ring out the old - Ring in the new, Ring out the false - -Ring in the true. I set the rhythm from alpha to omega Rev 1: 8, 10 & 11. In thanks for the lives of Lila (nee Bullivant) and Sidney Frederick Walters. By beloved son Robert John A.D. MM.
3rd wt: 4 - 3 – 0; diam 2’ 4”; note D#
For ILONA and RUPERT and all future Australians.
4th wt: 4 - 3 – 26; diam 2’ 5 1/2 “; note C#
FRANCIS & ELIZABETH HANNAN Settled in Randwick - 1887
5th wt: 6 - 0 – 19; diam 2’ 8”; note B
In loving memory of my mother Jean Margaret Phillips b 9 April 1917 d 26 June 1998. NEVER SEND TO KNOW FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS, IT TOLLS FOR THEE (John Donne)
6th wt: 7 – 2 – 10; diam 2’ 10”; note A#
In memory of Rev Roy Lovitt Rector of St Jude’s 1979 - 1991
7th wt 10 – 12 – 13; diam 3’ 2 1/2 “; note C#
Faith - Hope - Love. Presented by Syd Dunderdale (Not a bad bloke).
Tenor wt: 14 – 1 – 25; diam 3’ 7”; note F#
May these bells always ring to celebrate Australia’s Federation. A happy sound to hear. Paul, Tom, William, Julie & John Doyle 1.1.2001.
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