Objects of Substance- Bells

Ring out the old; ring in the new

Our earliest School bell

What is a school without bells? Surely, bells are symbolic of the day-to-day organisation of school life? They add structure and surety. They tell students and staff when to arrive and leave. But not at Girls Grammar! Here the change of lessons is marked by the opening of doors, chatter of a thousand voices, and clatter of shoes running up and down stairs. It is not as if there were never any bells. In the School’s Archives Collection, there is an old, and very heavy, hand bell. It has a wonderfully clear tone. We assume this bell was rung at the beginning and end of lessons before the installation of the electronic clock that was installed in the Main Building in the 1920s. This clock controlled the ringing of bells to start and finish lessons. In 1990 and 1991, a major refurbishment of the Main Building and the boarding facilities was undertaken. During this time, the electronic clock was disconnected and taken for refurbishment, and girls continued their lessons without bells. When the clock was returned, former Principal, Mrs Judith Hancock, decided that the calm provided from the absences of bells was worth preserving. In this day of smart devices and a clock in every room, Grammar girls and staff find bells somewhat anachronistic. However, Archives still has the old bell—just in case.

Mrs Kristine Cooke (Harvey 1967) Director of Information Services

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