You can ring my bell


An interesting bit of Brownhills ephemera. There must be a few of these about, but what’s the story? Cheers to Gerald Reece and David Evans for the image.

This is an odd little one for people interested in the history of Brownhills industry – upon the subject of which, we still have very little material, as I alluded to in my last post about Ogley Mill.

A wee bird tells me that respected author and local historian Gerald Reece has once more teamed up with the young David Evans are plotting again, and I look forward to discovering what they’re cooking up. But in the meantime, Gerald has been to see David and bought some interesting bits of history with him.

This handbell is very rare. But I’d like to find out how rare, and what the circumstances were surrounding its production and distribution.

The bell commemorates the victory in the Second World War, and features a suitable text, V for victory on the handle and the embossed heads of the Allies leaders – Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt (I assume Roosevelt – could be Truman, of course. Tricky one, that…)


Fred Butler’s aerial image from 1954 shows Crabtree, centre, and Superalloys with the chimney, top right.

The bell is described as being quite tuneless, made as it is of recycled aircraft alloy – it was cast from metal stripped from enemy aircraft ‘…shot down over Britain 1939-45’. These curious items were given away (or perhaps sold) as a promotional device by the Super Alloys Company of Brownhills, who did indeed recycle war scrap. Their factory and yard, known as The Chemical, was a magnet for kids in Brownhills for many decades, and their chimney stood as a landmark until demolition in the 1980s.

So, the question is this – do you know anything about these bells? Were there many made? Were they made in Brownhills, or elsewhere under contract from Brownhills produced metal? Are there any others? What do you remember of Superalloys?

I featured the factory in a previous post, and the memory of it memory is very strong in the local consciousness. Please, do comment here or mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

Thanks to Gerald and David for helping some more great local history escape into the wild.


These dead aircraft were British, but a remarkable sight in Brownhills that fascinated local kids for years. Image from tThe Aviation Forum.

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14 Responses to You can ring my bell

  1. Pedro says:

    Nothing about Superalloys, but I presume, as Lichfield Road is mentioned on a couple of occasions, that it was previously called Brownhills Chemical Works. It was founded in 1840 by father of Josiah Bowen Lane, and later merged with the Midland Tar Distillers of which Josiah became Director, and in the 1920s the main interests were transferred to the Lancashire area.

    Contract with BUDC for tar spraying in 1913…became Brownhills Chemical Works Co. around1923…

    • Susan Page says:

      Very interested to read about the Brownhills Chemical Works, my mother was decendant of Josiah Bowen Lane (their are several Josiah Lane’s) the earliest Josiah Lane I can trace was born 1848, died 1896, his father was John Lane b 1826, d 1910, (and burried in Christchurch Lichfield) but he would have only been 14 in 1840 when the company was formed. Have you any further information on the origins of Brownhills Chemical Works ? Would be very pleased to hear from you. Many thanks, Sue

  2. Pedro says:

    World War II Victory Handbell….buy one for 95 quid…

    An RAF Benevolent Fund handbell cast from the metal of German aircraft shot down over Britain during 1939-45.
    The bell bears the heads of Sir Winston Churchill, President Theodore Roosevelt, and Joseph Stalin.

    Height 6″ Weight 3/4 lb

  3. oakparkrunner says:

    When I was a retained fireman at Brownhills fire station in the early 60’s, I attended numerous call outs to Super Alloys to extinguish fires caused through cutting up aircraft, and also a large quantity of search lights were on the site. An added danger was the possibility of live ammunition which could have been lodged in the old equipment.

  4. According to
    “made by the Buckinghamshire Die-Casting Co. of Burnham, Bucks using aluminium alloy from German aircraft destroyed during World War II. It bears the heads of Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin in low relief. The handle bears a large ‘V’, again in low relief, on either side. Sale proceeds went to the RAF Benevolent Fund. ” has a more detailed history.

    It is probably not greatly relevant to the story of the bell but the photos at could pass as a likeness of Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt ( 26th President of the United States – died 1919) or is it a poor representation of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (32nd President of the United States – died 1945)? Does not look particularly like Harry S. Truman (the 33rd President of the United States of America – died 1972). A mistaken description by coreden sterling ?

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  6. lou Watton says:

    When you walked along the cut (canal) Super Alloys yard was full of searchlights in the late 50s early 60s

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  8. Charlene says:

    I have came across a bell the exact same bell apart from mine has no handles

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