The Lichfield Diocesan Mobile Belfry

In 1989 the Central Council invited proposals for projects to celebrate the Council’s centenary in 1991.

Phil Gay (pictured left) suggested a mobile exhibition centre containing a light (1.5cwt tenor) ring of bells. The Council decided by a narrow majority not to proceed with the idea, but the feasibility of bells of this size or smaller was made clear to Phil over the next two years when he hung a ring of six with a tenor weighing 103lb.

The success of Matthew Higby’s very small (8lb tenor) portable belfry at the Lichfield Diocesan ‘Feast’ in 1997 reinforced the view that a demonstration ring was a good idea, and Phil produced a modified version of the 1989 scheme with smaller bells (but within the range he had already hung), a smaller and lighter trailer, and lower cost.

In late 1997 a joint project group with two representatives of each of the ringing societies in the Lichfield Diocese was set up to examine the feasibility of the project.

Its members were:

  • Lichfield and Walsall Archdeaconries Society: Geoff Pick (Chairman) & John Daubner
  • North Staffordshire Association: Phil Gay & Marian Owen (Secretary)
  • Shropshire Association: Andrew Gordon (Treasurer) & Paul Lewis

Phil and Marian made a one-fifth scale working model, which proved very useful in developing a workable lifting mechanism and promoting the project among members of the societies. Richard Offen volunteered to join the group as fundraiser, and Ray Daw agreed to produce working drawings.

By the middle of 1998 the three societies had agreed to build and operate the mobile belfry as a joint project with some initial funding, and work began in the autumn.

The LDMB was dedicated by the Bishop of Lichfield on Easter Sunday, 1999 and had its national launch two weeks later at the Ringing World Roadshow at Tewkesbury.

The belfry is mounted on an Ifor Williams 2-tonne trailer. Most of the fabrication was carried out by H E Butters (Engineers), and the project is most grateful to Bert Butters for his generosity and support. In addition to members of the project team work was done by Bill Harris, Matthew Higby and a number of commercial sub-contactors.

Pictured (left to right) are Phil Gay, Andrew Gordon, Marian Owen, Paul Lewis, Geoff Pick, Ray Daw and John Daubner

Details of the bells

The Mobile Belfry contains an excellent peal of 6 bells cast in 1998 at the world-famous Whitechapel Bell Foundry. The bells were initially on long-term loan from the Foundry, but when it closed in 2017 ownership was transferred to the Mobile Belfry on very advantageous terms. The LDMB trustees are very grateful to Alan Hughes for his long-term support and generosity.

Bell Diameter Weight Note
42.6 lbs
43.4 lbs
45 lbs
50.9 lbs
62.6 lbs
76.5 lbs

The Mobile Belfries Trust works with and promotes booking of The Lichfield Diocesan Mobile Belfry, but it owned and primarily operated outside of it.  For further information, please see their own website.

© All Rights Reserved. The Mobile Belfries Trust. Registered Charity # 1126164