Southampton is engaged in carrying out a great scheme for the building of a civic centre. The first block consisted of the Municipal Offices, which were opened some time ago by the Duke and Duchess of York. The second block is the Law Courts, which have just been completed, and were opened on Friday by the Lord Chancellor (Viscount Sankey). The Assembly Hall is the third section of the scheme, and the last the Town Hall, which will be an outstanding feature of the edifice.
With the opening of the Law Courts, the bells and clock installed in the tower by Messrs. Gillett and Johnston, of Croydon, came into commission. The bells chimed the hour of noon and played the tune "St. Anne," associated with the hymn, "O God, our help in ages past."
The bellfounders were represented at the ceremony by Mr. C. F. Johnston.
The clock has four dials, each lift, in diameter, illuminated at night from inside the tower.
The electric lamps placed behind the dials are switched on and off by the operation of a light cell in place of the more usual spring-wound time switch. The light cell placed on the north-east corner of the tower is so sensitive that, should a heavy fog occur, the current for lighting up the dials will be automatically switched on, while with this arrangement lighting up of the dials is ensured each night, not at a predetermined time, but in accordance with the actual time of darkness.
The driving mechanism is of the type standardised by the makers for all their largest tower clocks, consisting of an independent master clock to ensure the most perfect time-keeping, and an independent and powerful motor-wound driving gear released by the master clock every half-minute.
The bells, nine in number and harmonically tuned, are of the following notes and weights:-
|1.- D sharp, 4 cwt. 2 qr.|
2.- D, 5 cwt.
3.- C sharp, 5 cwt. 3 qr.
4.- C, 6 cwt. 2 qr.
5.- A sharp, 8 cwt. 1 qr.
6.- G sharp, 12 cwt.
7.- G, 14 cwt. 1 qr.
8.- F, 20 cwt.
9.- A sharp, 68 cwt.
The largest bell is used for the hours, and the true Westminster quarters are chimed on four of the smaller bells, and at predetermined times during the day the hymn tune, "O God, our help in ages past," is played.
The bells are hung in a steel frame, and provision has been made so that the number can, if required, be increased to cover a full carillon in the future.
The operating mechanism for the chiming and striking and tune-playing is of the direct motor-driven type, the motors being started by the timepiece portion of the clock at the correct moment, and stopped by automatic switch gear incorporated in the mechanism.
The whole of the clockwork and mechanism is self-contained in a single chamber at the dial level, no weights falling below this level; it is electrically operated throughout, and forms a very interesting example of a modern tower clock installation.
The complete installation of bells and clock mechanism was manufactured and supplied by Gillett and Johnston, of Croydon.
A circular stairway of 215 steps, with intercepting platforms, has been built to enable ascent of the tower.
The Ringing World No. 1181, November 10th, 1933, page 716