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The Memorial Bells

As 2014 marked 100 years since the start of the First World War, we arranged a series of events to remember its impact on our community, particularly the 200 men commemorated on our bells and their families. Thanks to new stories that were discovered and creative writing by the children of Kaizen Primary School, we created a "Local Heroes Walk" around the neigbourhood. It takes in the houses where some of the Local Heroes lived 100 or so years ago, and is a moving way of reflecting for about an hour on this part of our local history. There will be a chance to do this at the next Heritage Open Day in September.

You can also find out some of the stories so far on our website, like this one kindly shared by one of the man's descendants:

Rifleman William Henry Adams of 147 Ling Road, Canning Town, was killed in action in Flanders aged 19 on 9 May 1915.
Jane Bisset has added to his story on
“William Henry Adams is my grandmother brother. He was the second child of eight siblings and wasn’t married. He worked in a bank before someone handed him a white feather and he joined up straight away. He went to war so quickly no one in his family ever saw him in his uniform.
I have the Widow’s Penny that was sent to his mother. We will always remember his bravery.”

In the east tower of the church is a unique chime of ten Memorial Bells. In 2011,  we have had the tower repaired and the bells restored. You can read more about this on our the Local Heroes website which is all about the bells, or click here to hear about the bells. Many thanks to Pete Day from NuSound Radio 92FM for this feature.

On July 27 the bells were played as part of Martin Creed's All The Bells event to mark the start of the Olympic Games. You can hear them here: All the Bells

The Vision for the Bells

From the Tabernacle Messenger, June 1921

"We have long wondered how best we could commemorate our noble men who laid down their lives for us. It is proposed to hang a peal of chiming bells in the towers of the new church now being erected. These bells will bear the names of men of the district who fell in the War. The music of the Bells will ever remind us of the heroic sacrifice of our men who gave their lives for us.

The cost will be defrayed by sacrificial and loving gifts of those who subscribe not less than one shilling. Cards will be issued with the name of a man, his rank, where killed and when. The name of the Collector and address will be on the card. Each card will have twenty perforated squares with the picture of a Bell thereon, and marked one shilling…..

Mr Frank Lord awaits any gifts on Wednesday evenings in the Deacons’ vestry at 9 o’clock."

The Bells are Ordered

From the Tabernacle Messenger, November 1924

“It is about four years since we inaugurated the Scheme to install Chiming Bells in the tower of our new Church as a Memorial to our men who made the supreme sacrifice in the Great War. It was clearly understood that owing to our great building enterprise the effort must be a purely local one. The rank and file of our people took up the matter with enthusiasm and devotion. On account of our many commitments it was not possible to begin operations immediately. Further, we have had prolonged negotiations concerning the best and most economic peal of bells to meet our finances. We are at last perfectly satisfied about the whole matter, and the order has been placed with the well-known bell makers, Messrs. Gillett and Johnston, of Croydon.

Our peal will cost £1,000 and consists of ten bells, the heaviest weighing 9 cwt., and the total weight of bell metal being nearly two tons. There will be a hand clavier of the latest type for manual operation, and also an electro-pneumatic tune-playing machine operated automatically by interchangeable paper bands. Thus by the presence of a button the bells will ring forth almost any tune to order. The names of our men and lads will be cast on the bells. The installation is promised for the end of February."

Here is a list of the names on the bells as written. Our research so far has shown that there are many errors - sometimes wrong spelling or initials - and we have put as much as we know so far about these men, and the bells, on a new website called Local Heroes.

One of the men named is Sergeant H Patterson. We are working to find out more about the other men, and trace any of their descendents who may not know about this memorial.

You can see some pictures of the bells in the photo gallery, read more about our bell tower appeal and our project to'reveal the memorial bells'.

Get in touch

The Welcome Centre is open Wednesdays 10.30 am – 12 and Thursdays 2 – 4 pm. Please feel free to drop in for a chat.

At other times, contact the church office on:

020 7474 6603