That rings a bell

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Brownhills Fire Station was situated where Parade View flats are today, but before then, the fire engine was stationed in the yard behind the Council House. Image kindly supplied by Godfrey Hucker.

Recently, there’s been some debate in the background and comments here about Brownhills Council House (now the Parkview Centre) and the bell on the side of the building.

I always held that the bell was originally to summon the fire brigade, and later an automatic clapper was added to chime the hour. It seems, however, that this may not be the case.

(Satisfyingly, as I wrote this last night, I heard the same bell chime 2am across the town, drifting in through an open window).

The young David Eavans, not a man to let a good historical thread pass untagged, makes the following observations, and has supplied an excellent photo gallery, for which I thank him.

Have you a view or any further knowledge to clarify the matter? Do please comment here of mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

David wrote:

You recently featured a c1905 postcard image of Brownhills Council in all its glory…yet minus a clock and a bell, so I was intrigued as to when the bell appeared. Was it originally a fire alarm bell ?

We know that Wm Roberts presented a fine horse-drawn fire engine to the town in 1898, that the Council House itself was opened in 1882 and that the clock was purchased in 1911.

I understand that the fine new Merryweather Gem horse-drawn fire-engine had its own bell, and that when the carriage was decommissioned its bell was kept in the new fire station nearby in Brownhills.

However, this fire station closed some years ago when a new fire station opened in Aldridge/Walsall Wood border.

I enclose some photos taken this morning, at nine oclock by the clock, by the bell and by my watch.

$_57

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One Response to That rings a bell

  1. Andy Dennis says:

    Lichfield Mercury 23 Aug 1912 reports that “for the purpose of raising a fund for placing a clock in the Council House” … the proceeds of entertainment at Mr Twigdon’s Picture Palace on High Street were given to the Clock Committee.

    The same paper on 22 Nov 1912 reported on the opening ceremony on the previous day. It says that the bell serves the double purpose of a fire alarm. It does not elaborate as to whether this was to summon the fire crew. A large crwod gathered to witness the starting of the clock. Some of the subscriptions had been given twenty years before.

    Andy

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