The Bathurst Bells
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The first Parish (Anglican) was established in 1825 at Kelso, the accompanying Holy Trinity Church being completed there in 1837; which was then the first church west of the Great Dividing Range.


It was not until 1848 that the All Saints’ Church was built on the Bathurst side, to a design of Edmund Blacket. It became a Cathedral in 1870 with the creation of the Diocese of Bathurst. The incumbent during this period was the Reverend Thomas Sharpe, whose private Rectory was on the corner of Russell and Peal Streets, now known as the Miss Trail’s House (1845).


A fund was soon opened for a peal of bells for the new All Saints’ Tower, managed by Mr Thomas Sloman, a prominent Bathurst businessman: the sizable sum of Eight Hundred Pounds was raised by public subscription. Mr Sloman sailed for England in February 1851 to order the six bells from Warner and Sons foundry of London. They landed in Sydney in February 1855. Because of the hectic rush to the goldfields, no carrier in those days of bullock and dray transport could be found to carry them at no cost.


By the mid 1850s, the population of Bathurst had expanded, as had the economy. Even so, the church had to depend on free transport, and the bells came one by one from May 1855, so they were not completely hung until 8th December, 1855.


Just five days later townsfolk learned that the Russian fortress of Sebastopol had been captured by the allied forces fighting in the Crimean War. Spontaneous celebrations began, with bonfires, fireworks and much singing and cheering. At about ten o’clock, while the evening festivities were at their height, some excitable lads of the town thought of ringing the new bells to add to the festivities.


Ropes had not even been attached, so iron bars were taken high into the tower and the bells were struck by the unruly mob, who had locked the doors against likely opposition. Even though Churchwarden Wise, with the help of a constable, was able to eject the intruders, the exuberant mob broke in again in the small hours and once more attacked the bells.


Whether it was due to this rough treatment or not is not recorded, but one of the bells was found much later to be cracked, and in 1860 was returned to its foundry for recasting. The Cathedral Bells of Bathurst were the first to be rung outside any of the colonial capitals.


By the mid-1890s however, concern was developing that the ringing of the bells was making the tower unstable, so full circle ringing was replaced by simple chiming, (ie. striking of still bells). While chiming was heard in Bathurst on Sundays until about 1968, no person living has ever heard them ringing full circle in the English tradition, which gives a much more resonant sound.


When the old Cathedral tower and nave were demolished in 1970, the six bells were stored somewhat unceremoniously in the yard behind the Court House. In the early 1990’s an opportunity presented itself for the bells to be returned to England for retuning at Whitechapel Bell Foundry and refitted with head-stocks by Eayre and Smith (Warners having long ceased operation).


Following their return, with numerous other bells, they were brought to more suitable storage at Dawson’s Removals in Bathurst and remained there, while debate ensued concerning how they might be re-hung.


In 2005, another three bells were purchased from Taylor’s Bell Foundry in the UK and they, along with the six Warner bells, went on display in the Cathedral in November 2006. In 2008, Tablelands Builders commenced work on a new tower to a design by local architect Mr Henry Bialowas. The tower should be complete by October 2009. The first ringing of the bells was conducted on 26th June 2009 to commemorate the consecration and enthronement of Bishop Michael McKenna, the eighth Roman Catholic Bishop of Bathurst.

The bells have been registered on the State Heritage Register for NSW. Their entry can be seen on the ‘Heritage Database’, to found on the NSW State Heritage Office website at:


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