Tower and Bells of The Parish Church of St Thomas Stourbridge
by Martin D Fellows, Tower Keeper
western tower was completed by the year 1759 - some 30 years
after work had commenced on the building of the New Chapel,
as St Thomas's was then called. Built of local hand-made bricks
costing only a few shillings per thousand, it is 100 feet
high. There are 128 steps from ground level to the roof, from
which may be had views over the township of Stourbridge extending
to the Clent and Rowlet Hills, Lye, Dudley, Brierley Hill,
Sedgley, Wollaston, Wordsley, Norton, Oldswinford and Pedmore.
tower was restored in 1970 at a cost of over £5,000.
It houses a ring of ten bells, the weights of which range
from 4 and a half cwt (treble bell) to 18 and a half cwts
(tenor bell). The total weight of the bells, excluding the
iron and steel frame in which they hang, is some 82 cwts.
The bells are made of bronze, an alloy of copper and tin.
the bells now in the tower, three formed part of the original
ring of eight bells cast in 1759 by the London bell founders
Lester & Pack. The remaining bells of this original ring
of eight bells were recast in 1901 and 1935. The two treble
(smaller) bells were added in 1969 to increase the ring to
ten. At this time a new cast iron and steel bell frame, replacing
the original oak structure of 1759, was installed. The work
was carried out by Messrs John Taylor and Co, bell founders
of Loughborough, the total cost of restoration being £2,800.
The two new bells were the separate gifts of Frederick V Nicholls
and Charles William Cooper, both ringers at St Thomas's for
ring of ten was augmented to twelve in 1982, the additional
two bells being cast again by John Taylor & Co. In 1999
the 9th, 10th and 11th bells of the ring were transferred
to the bell tower of the Town Hall at Berwick-upon-Tweed,
Nothumberland for use in the restoration of the eighteenth
century Whitechapel octave in that building, and replacement
bells for St Thomas's Church were cast by John Taylor &
Co. At the same time the 7th bell was replaced by a new bell,
the former bell being retained in the tower and hung "dead"
for use as a Service Bell.
ninth bell of the ring of twelve, cast to ringing weight and
profile in 1928 by John Taylor & Co, was the clock bell
of the former Dewsbury Infirmary, Yorkshire, and a memorial
to Samuel Senior of that town. Upon the demolition of the
infirmary in 1996 the bell was acquired for use in the remodelling
of this ring of twelve bells.
bells are regularly rung on Sundays for the main church services
of the day. The society of ringers was established prior to
the year 1771 under the style of the Stourbridge Society of
Chapel Youths, although today they are known as St Thomas's
Society of Change Ringers.
in the ringing chamber record notable peals rung on the bells
in past years. One record is of a quarter peal of 10,080 changes
of Bob Major rung in 1773 and which took 6 hours and 20 minutes
to perform. The bicentenary of this event was celebrated in
1973 when eight members of St Thomas's Society of Change RIngers
rang the same peal again, but in the slightly quicker time
of 5 hours and 38 minutes.
clock in the tower is curious in having only three faces,
Installed in the year 1878 by the London firm of Charles Frodsham
& Co, it was electrified by John Smith & Sons of Derby
in 1973, the cost being borne by the former Stourbridge Borough