Ringing Bells

On 19 February 1965 the hand bell which signalled the change of lessons at Concordia was rung for the last time. The Old Collegians Association had funded the installation of an automated system of ‘melodious signals.’

1924 Bell ringer

The now obsolete role of the bell-ringer was once taken very seriously by students. A poem published in The Brown and Gold in 1929 tells us,

This is a special honour,
Reserved for one alone,
Who from the bell can conjure
A harsh, strong awful tone.
Sometimes this bell rings sweetly,
A charming, soothing chime;
Announces end of lessons;
Announces dinner time.

Students always experienced a love-hate relationship with the bell. They welcomed mealtimes and the end of the school day, but the morning bell in the boys boarding house was never a pleasant sound.

The bell ringer’s task even extended to pulling students out of bed so they would be on time for breakfast. Brian Hansen, the bell-ringer in 1945, confessed that whenever he imagined it was time to ring the bell he experienced ‘a sickening throb in the stomach or a stopping of the heart.’  

Even though the girls hostel bell was described as ‘one of the most indispensable articles within our walls.’ one girl remarked that she would really like to remove its tongue. We also learn that by the following year the bell had developed a severe crack which caused a significant reduction in tone.

Jenni van Wageningen


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