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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,
I have a small bell (about 6 inches) with the name Parthia given to me as a schoolboy in 1963/64 that I think was from the Cunard Parthia (II) when she was sold. I wondered whether any former crew or Cunard employees remember such a bell. I am aware that the main ship's bell was from the earlier Parthia I, and think it possible the one I have was too.

Thanks for any information you may be able to recall, - David
 

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Might have been the 'wheelhouse' bell or just outside the wheelhouse door.. Just 5 inch dia. A good friend was a Second Mate in MEDIA. I'll ask him. He is 92 but sharp as a tack. He was a 'collector' as well... he has the Admiralty Zig Zag clock, He said, "The clock belongs to the Admiralty, not Cunard." As a Lt Cdr RNR he took it home for safekeeping. I had it my office for two years when I was HM in Bermuda. He passed the clock on loan to Cunard and is on board the QUEEN VICTORIA.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Stephen. The bell was given to me by a friends father who was a non-ferrous scrap dealer who knew of my interest in ships. He said it was from a vessel in Liverpool.
 

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Hi David,
I'm afraid I drew a blank. Spoke to my pal. He came back immediately, "I don't remember any bell on the bridge of MEDIA, or even QUEEN MARY." He was on Cunard for 13 years.... '55 to '78.

Not much help I'm afraid. I can't believe that this is bell is anything that what you say it is. I am quite sure there are hundreds of bells engraved 'TITANIC'. Here you have a PARTHIA bell. Prove it is a problem.

Next task... why not contact Cunard Archive in Liverpool. Search photos of the PARTHIA. Must be a whole file of photos of the ship when building.

Stephen
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hi Stephen, disappointing but I appreciate your efforts. Without going into the detail, I am convinced that the bell is from Parthia II. When given the bell , I was told that it had come from a vessel that ran aground on the approaches to Liverpool, was salved but was a constructive write-off and was scrapped. However, I can find no record of a casualty with the name Parthia anywhere near Liverpool. On the way to the TT on the IOM three or four years ago, I visited Liverpool University and went through the Parthia do***ents in the Cunard Archive. I couldn't find anything relevant to the bell. I have also contacted an expert on bell foundries and a specialist bell restoration firm in Bridport. The answers were that the bell was probably nineteenth century ( i.e. Parthia I) rather than twentieth century but they could not be certain. I have contacted the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich but apparently they don't have a 'Bell Expert'! Parthia I was built by William Denny in Dumbarton in 1870 and I think Glasgow University have their archive so maybe they should be my next stop. Again thanks for your efforts - David
 

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"I have contacted the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich but apparently they don't have a 'Bell Expert'! Parthia I was built by William Denny in Dumbarton"

It should ring a couple of bells!!!!! :)
 

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David,

You will find William Denny archives at the Glasgow Transport Museum... Kelvinhall.

The bell may well have been taken off PARTHIA 1948 when she was told to become AURELIA. That is one chance that it where it came from.

Might have been the PARTHIA 1870.. She had a long career and possibly that bell was taken when she was sold. Look at the bell... the decoration on the bell. That is not 'normal'. It looks 'old style' too. I would lean towards this ship.

Stephen
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Stephen, yes that's my theory. The main ship's bell was given to Cunard by the then owners of Parthia I. This from the Liverpool Records office:
"Parthia", R.M.S. (1870) (Cunard Line) - Ship's bell, installed on the "Parthia" of 1948.387.05 SYRShips & ShippingView record
Perhaps the small bell was also given? From Harland and Wolff - Shipbuilding and Engineering Works
She made her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York on 10 April 1948. In November, 1950, the original bell from the steamer Parthia (I) was presented to the Cunard Steamship Company and installed on Parthia (Ii).
Thanks for the info re the Denny Archive - I'll get in touch with them. I've attached a couple of files about the larger bell

David
 

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Hi David,
I'm afraid I drew a blank. Spoke to my pal. He came back immediately, "I don't remember any bell on the bridge of MEDIA, or even QUEEN MARY." He was on Cunard for 13 years.... '55 to '78.

Not much help I'm afraid. I can't believe that this is bell is anything that what you say it is. I am quite sure there are hundreds of bells engraved 'TITANIC'. Here you have a PARTHIA bell. Prove it is a problem.

Next task... why not contact Cunard Archive in Liverpool. Search photos of the PARTHIA. Must be a whole file of photos of the ship when building.

Stephen
Hi,
I have a small bell (about 6 inches) with the name Parthia given to me as a schoolboy in 1963/64 that I think was from the Cunard Parthia (II) when she was sold. I wondered whether any former crew or Cunard employees remember such a bell. I am aware that the main ship's bell was from the earlier Parthia I, and think it possible the one I have was too.

Thanks for any information you may be able to recall, - David
Would certainly think due to size it would have been what is known as a
bridge bell (remember seeing one on a Clan ship in situ ) also with that
decoration almost certainly Parthia (1) I.e 19th century.
John.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Hi John, that's certainly my view considering the scroll work beneath the name. Unfortunately there are no marks Identifying the bell foundry. I think it likely that it would be one close to Dunbarton where Partia I was built but there are no foundry records surviving from those establishments. Regards, David
 

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Search Google for BELL FOUNDRY - GLASGOW. It seems they were two a penny! Not necessary Dumbarton. Some of foundries were located in the City... like Gorbals. Also try this one... Steven & Struthers. They the made propellers AND bells!


Records of Steven & Struthers Ltd, brassfounders, Glasgow, Scotland

Archive Collection
XML
Scope and Content
  • Pay books 1911-1919
  • Bell books late 19th century-1930s
  • Memoranda and dispatch books 1874-1956
  • Foundry books 1916-1943
  • Admiralty order records 1902-1903
  • Cocks and valves 1937-1940
  • Bell records 1838-1927
  • Catalogues 1930s
  • Contract drawings of boilers, condensers, fog signals, fog horns, lighthouses 1891-1939
Administrative / Biographical History
Steven & Struthers Ltd were founded in 1868 and specialised in the making of bronze propellers and bells. The company operated from premises at Elliot Street, Anderston, Glasgow, Scotland from 1871 until 1892, before moving to Eastvale Place, Kelvinhaugh, Glasgow. The company ceased to trade in the late 1950s.
Arrangement
This material is arranged into series, which contain numbers of items related by function and/or format. Within series, the items are generally arranged chronologically
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Steven,
You have got me going over research work I did in 2016/2017!
To the 'Whiting Society' -
In researching the history of a ship's bell, I came across Michael Foulds' book The Gorbals Brass and Bell Foundry and also the tables available on your website detailing the bells produced.
Unfortunately the bell doesn't appear to have been manufactured by them. Since Michael obviously has a great deal of knowledge of Scottish bell founders I was hoping to get in touch with him, and your society seemed to be the best means.
From Michael Foulds:
The tables on the website were compiled by Chris Pickford from the original records of the Gorbals Brass and Bell Foundry, which operated from 1838 until 1928. It is little short of a miracle that these record books survived and found their way into the University of Glasgow Business Archive. I have discovered several other companies which cast occasional bells in the area in the period from, say, 1780 to 1920, as do***ented in my other book "The Part Time Bellfounders of Glasgow and Renfrewshire", but in no case have any record books from those companies survived, and our knowledge that they cast bells at all is informed only by the discovery of their products inscribed with the founder's name.

Bells have a kind of status according to size and weight, and how much trouble the founder went to record the casting, either in his own books, or by casting an "inscription" on to the bell, would depend on how significant it was presumed to be. Bells in range (diameter) 200mm to 400mm were produced in large numbers for ships, railway locomotives, fire engines, and (at the larger end of the range) schools, factories, prisons, buoys, poorhouses etc. They might (or might not) bear the founder's name and date, but often little else. Ships bells might, if the ship were "high status" bear the ship's name. Ordinary church or public building bells, say 400mmm to 1000mm would almost always have the founder's name and date, and maybe other wording about who had given the money, or in memory of, who was the minister or the Lord Provost. Bells 1000mm to 1500mm weighing up to a tonne or more might well have a wordy inscription giving more information, and are likely to be mentioned in contemporary do***ents or newspaper accounts.

There are caveats even with the Gorbals foundry records. One bell book is missing. Not all bells were recorded - even some quite large ones have come to light that were never entered in the books; they made mistakes and omissions. The customer's name given might be a middleman, rather than an end user. Having said that, although the records show numerous entries to Clydeside shipbuilders, there appear to be none for Denny's.

So not a lot of joy there. However, I have sent a request to the Glasgow University archive re. Steven and Struthers as you suggest and it will be interesting to see what might come back!
Thanks for the interest you have shown - and by the way I have just purchased your Cunarder book!
 

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Hi David,

I've been called worse names!
Thanks for 'Cunarder'.
Here is the little bridge bell on m.s. SCOTSPARK. Clyde built and the probably the bell too!
Stephen
Naval architecture Stairs Wood Sky Vehicle
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Looking forward to receiving your book to see if any of the paintings feature bells! With regard to where bells were hung/mounted I had this reply from the Liverpool Nautical Research Society in 2016:
It is very difficult to determine which ship the bell came from. However, the consensus of opinions from Society members is that it is from Parthia 1, built in 1870, and it was used on the bridge, or possibly, the crows nest! Additional to this, it is noted that the inscription below the ship's name, is in very "flowery " writing, typical of the period."

More comment from Michael Foulds:
Pretty much any competent non-ferrous foundry would be able to have a crack at a small bell which was, shall we say, musically non-critical. Many did. Some helpfully cast their names on to the bell. Many didn't. Whilst I haven't found any medium to large (say 600mm plus) bells claiming birth in Dumbarton, it's very probable there were non-ferrous foundries there in the heyday of shipbuilding capable and willing to cast a typical ships' bell.

So, to summarise, my guess is you're up the creek without a paddle unless you have more evidence. The shape of a bell is sometimes a clue. Even small bells from a specialist bellfounder are usually the proper shape; a "brassfounder's bell" is often shaped like a plantpot. Any inscription at all, cast in, stamped or engraved, words or trademarks? Finally (as with the shape) a "proper" bellfounder would be likely to cast even a small bell in proper bell metal (bronze, about 80% copper, 20% tin). A general non-ferrous founder might be more likely to use brass (copper and zinc) - perhaps one for your local school chemistry lab?

An opinion but "proof" continues to evade me ...........................
David
 
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