Ypres Bells To Attend World War One Commemorative Display At The 2017 Great Dorset Steam Fair

Ypres Bells at Loughborough Bell Foundry – Photo by Stuart Newton

1st August 2017 – A new ring of 8 bells which have been cast at the world famous bell foundry of John Taylor & Co in Loughborough for St George’s Memorial Church in Ypres, Belgium will be attending this year’s World War One Commemorative display at the Great Dorset Steam Fair (from 24th to 28th August inclusive) after which the bells will be delivered to and hung in the church tower in Ypres.

GDSF Managing Director, Martin Oliver commented: “On behalf of everyone at the GDSF, we are truly honoured that the Trustees of the new bells have kindly agreed to allow the bells to attend this year’s show on route to St George’s Memorial Church in Ypres. As part of the agreement, the GDSF is extremely proud to announce that we will be sponsoring the road transport costs from Loughborough (in Leicestershire) down to the GDSF at Tarrant Hinton (Nr Blandford) and then onto Ypres. With the 31st July 2017 marking the 100th Anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of Passchendaele, officially known as the Third Battle of Ypres, to have the new bells attend this year’s show, as the 100th Anniversary commemorations of the Battle continue in Belgium, will be very humbling and poignant. My sincere thanks go to Alan Regin and the fellow Trustees of the Bells 4 St George Ypres for making this all possible.”   

The bells will be brought to the GDSF on First World War Dennis and Thornycroft army lorries owned by John Arthur and John Marshall from North Yorkshire with the same vehicles then delivering the bells via the Menin Gate Memorial to St George’s Memorial Church in Ypres where they will ring out over Ypres for a hundred years and more. Richard Cockcroft will also be assisting with the driving of the vehicles. Road transport will be provided by Stuart Ritchie of E & N Ritchie hauliers, Co Durham.

St George’s Memorial Church in Ypres, Belgium, was built between 1927 & 1929 to serve the British Community that had settled in Ypres following the First World War. It was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield, who also designed the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing in Ypres and the Cross of Sacrifice which stands in many Commonwealth War Grave Cemeteries around the world. It is an Anglican Church in Belgium which is visited by thousands of people each year who go to Ypres and the surrounding battlefields and cemeteries. Every item in the church is a memorial to an Individual, a School, a Regiment or other group. A fine tower was built and it is clear that the original intention was that it would contain change ringing bells. This intention will now be realised, to coincide with the centenary of the First World War, with the brand new ring of eight bells cast by John Taylor & Co. The inscriptions on the bells follow the same pattern of individual and group commemoration found in the church. Each bell has a Poppy motif cast around the shoulder.