In August 1923 a large 1.75 ton steel, tin and copper bell called “Great Peter” was installed in SFX Cathedral, Geraldton. It was rung for the fist time by a Mr McKay, who for nearly 25 years had been bell ringer at the old St Francis Xavier church and at the Cathedral.
In 1931 this bell sustained an eighteen inch crack on one side requiring repairs. It cracked again apparently after World War II never to be repaired. It was removed from the bell tower and remained for many years behind the Fatima Grotto adjacent to the Presentation Sisters Convent.
As part of the major conservation and refurbishment of the Cathedral begun in 2015, it was proposed to install a full carillon of 27 bells in the Cathedral’s western towers to be suspended from 2 frames constructed within the towers.
The foundation of the carillon is a set of eight bells that have been obtained from the parish church of Saints Peter and Paul in Godalming, England. A further 19 bells have been manufactured by John Taylor Bells, Loughborough, England, to make the full carillon.
Here are some interesting facts about the ‘Geraldton Bells’
- First 2 Octave carillon with 3 slow swinging bells in the world.
- Tuned to Modern Concert Pitch, including the Godalming Bells.
- Nothing like the carillon and operating system in the Southern Hemisphere.
- Will be a unique mix of ancient and modern - 12th century and new bells
- Full IT control – can be played through the internet from anywhere in the world as well as being linked to the Cathedral organ keyboards
- It is planned to ring them daily at Midday and 6pm, as well striking the hour between 8am and 6pm daily
In November 2018 an article appeared in The Australian, reporting on the impending arrival of the bells.
It is expected that the bells will arrive in Geraldton on Easter Sunday 2019.