Can we have our bell back?

Did you know that ‘Tinker Bell’ told the time on the speaking clock?

The voice of the speaking clock was replaced with the actress in the role of Tinker Bell from Peter Pan.

Callers who dialled the BT service heard the new voice for three months in 2008 as part of a deal with the Disney Corporation to promote their film of the 1904 J.M. Barrie play.

The Disney deal temporarily replaced the regular announcer Sara Mendes da Costa with Mae Whitman who played Tinker Bell in the film.

We all know the sound of the chimes of Big Ben in London whose chimes were first broadcast to the nation by the BBC on December 31, 1923, a tradition that continues to this day.

Big Ben is the name given to the massive bell inside the clock tower, which weighs more than 13 tons.

Some more Big Ben facts:

Each dial is seven metres in diameter. The minute hands are 4.2 metres long; the numbers are approximately 60cm long.

There are 312 pieces of glass in each clock dial which were recently cleaned in August 2014. Big Ben’s timekeeping is strictly regulated by a stack of coins placed on the huge pendulum.

In Kirrie we hear the chimes of the Kirk bells in the town to tell us the time, but what do you know of the bells that you hear?

Did you know we too have ‘Westminster Chimes’ the same as London?

Kirrie’s original Kirk bell was cast in Rotterdam in 1617 and the Inverarity Church bell too was cast by a Dutchman, Peter Vandenghein in 1614.

The story tells of some Dutch immigrants who had fled from Holland only to be caught by a storm at sea.

As they had no fresh water and illness had broken out on board, they sailed into the Tay estuary but, because of the sickness, they were not allowed to land at Dundee and had to sail on.

Once out of sight of Dundee, they came ashore in desperation to obtain fresh water and a cure for their illness.

Some of these Dutch people settled in Inverarity and they eventually decided that they wanted a bell for their church and knew where they could obtain one - from their homeland, Holland.

Two bells were delivered to Dundee by ship; one was taken to Inverarity Kirk and the other taken to Kinnell Kirk.

And do you know that in Forfar the bell that you hear telling you the time is not the famous ‘Lang Strang’ but the smaller ‘six-hour clock’ bell?

Lastly I want to tell of one of the teachers at Forfar Academy who as soon as the school bell goes on the last day of term, gets in his caravan and gets as far away as feasible from Forfar!

One year he was sitting in a campsite in Italy sharing a glass of wine with his neighbour who happened to come from Belgium, and in the course of conversation, when our man mentioned he came from Forfar, the Belgian said: “Can we have our bell back?”

Being unaware of the situation, the Belgian explained there were a number of Protestant Mercenaries fighting during the religious wars in the Low Countries at the time, I think 1500s or thereby.

Things were not going well for the Catholics so the King of Spain sent assistance.

The Scots decided to beat a hasty retreat and sailed from Antwerp but on their way to the ship grabbed anything they could lay their hands on including a bell from the town where the Belgian lived, and they knew it was now housed in one of the Angus churches.

Our champion, being of swashbuckling nature said, “I’ll get it back for you”, so on his return contacted Angus Council and argued for the return of the bell.

In the best traditions of diplomatic relations, the council replied “It’s oors, an the’re no gettin it!”

However, on reflection of the potential international diplomatic squabble, they decided to have a replica cast and present it to the Belgian town from which the original was plundered all these years ago.

Forfar Academy had an exchange trip with a school in Germany, and it was arranged they would load the bell onto the bus, stop off at Belgium to hand it over.

It is probably overstating things to suggest our local champion became a Belgian folk hero, but the event was covered on Belgian TV.

Yours aye,

THE ORRAMAN