Steel and tubular bells

Steel bells

Bells are normally cast in an alloy of copper and tin. In the second half of the 19th century, almost 1,000 cast steel bells were produced by Naylor Vickers in Sheffield. These bells have a reputation for poor sound. But in Germany, Bochumer Verein cast huge quantities of steel bells, and from the 1940s onwards, produced fine-sounding true-harmonic bells. The technology used by Naylor-Vickers for steel casting was invented by Bochumer Verein and the two companies collaborated closely on its exploitation.

The history and sound of English and German steel bells

Ewald Riepe, Naylor-Vickers and Bochumer Verein

The effect of rust on steel bells

The tuning of a peal of steel bells for Hale, Merseyside

The Hale bells after tuning

The UK’s biggest steel bell

A Bochumer Verein steel bell in the UK

Tubular bells

Tubular bells were patented for use in churches by John Harrington of Earlsdon near Coventry in 1884 and were produced by Harrington, Latham & Co and successor firms until the 1920s. Harringtons were awarded a gold medal for tubular bells at the 1885 Paris Worlds Fair, and were purchased by many churches. The stated advantage of tubular bells was small size and low cost. Their sound is unlike bells of traditional shape because most of the partials are inharmonic, and cannot be seperately tuned.

The acoustics of tubular bells