In the middle of the modern-ish framework, Mr Monkey found the hour bell. Known as Great Abel after Abel Heywood, who was Mayor of Manchester when the Town Hall was built, the bell was cast by Taylor & Company of Loughborough. It originally weighed 6 tons 9 cwt (6.55 tonnes), but repairs in 1882 - needed because the bell cracked on New Years Day 1879 - increased the weight to 8 tons 2 cwt (8.23 tonnes). To avoid the stress that would be caused by swinging the heavier bell, Great Abel now rests on metal beams and is tolled by a hammer with a pull of 458lb (220 kg) instead of using the clapper. A line from Tennyson's poem Ring Out, Wild Bells - "Ring out the false, ring in the true" - is inscribed around the bell, but Mr Monkey found it very difficult to actually read it.
Mr Monkey had visited the clock tower in 2011 and had been in the bell lantern when eight o'clock was struck. When that happened, he heard the Westminster chimes ringing two floors below, was almost deafened by eight strikes of Great Abel. He was rather alarmed by the the way the bell vibrated after each strike, as it reminded him horribly of D.L. Sayers' The Nine Tailors.
Return to Mr Monkey tours Manchester Town Hall clock tower
Copyright Rik Shepherd and Mr Monkey.