Southern Suburbs, Simon's Town, South African Naval Museum
Format Extent37 colour photographs
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The Simon’s Town South African Naval Museum covers the rich maritime history of the region and the country. Within the museum there is a large number of ship bells mostly dating from the second half of the twentieth century. Part of the museum is still used as a chapel. It is therefore not unusual that there is a bell tower. However, that tower hides three bells that are among the oldest in the region. With the help of the chairman of the Simon’s Town Historical Society we could retrieve more information on the trio. The bells were part of the installation of a Mast House Clock in 1816. The inscription on the clock mentions Dutton & Son, London, 1816 but the clock was actually made by a neighbouring firm Thwaites for Dutton. Thwaites also was responsible for the ordering of the bells with Thomas Mears II, a predecessor of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. The fittings and staples of the bells are still the original but only the smallest of the three bells can be used for ringing, something that happens with weddings in the chapel below. There are no indications on the bells about the founder. However, due to the convex circumferential rings on the bells, the identification with Mears is sure. It might be possible to use the specific form of the digits to identify other bells from the same period for which we only have the date on the bell. The further decorations on the bells are minimal with two pairs of moulding wires around the decoration band with the date 1816 and two on the lip. Above the sound bow are two moulding wires on the smallest two bells and three on the largest.