Edith Adamson Carillon, Newcastle Civic Centre
The notable history of the Newcastle carillon dates back to 1929 when the bellfounders Gillett and Johnston temporarily installed the Wellington (New Zealand) War Memorial carillon for the 1929 North East Coast Exhibition, where it was played daily by Clifford Ball and guest carillonneurs including Nora Johnston to assembled crowds of 20000 people (reportedly, 150000 when the King and Queen arrived). Following on from this, as plans were being drawn up for a new Civic Centre before the second world war, strikingly, a central carillon tower seems to have always been part of the intention (perhaps inspired by the 1929 instrument). Building work commenced in 1960 under the command of George Kenyon, the lead architect, and was finished in 1967, being opened by King Olaf V of Norway in 1968. The 25 bells that make the carillon were bequeathed to the City Council by Mr. James Adamson in memory of his wife, Edith Annie Adamson who died in the same year of work commencing on the Civic Centre. They were cast by J. Taylor & Co. Under the consultation of George Browson and John Healy the instrument with bells cast in 1963 cost then £21000. An inscription by David Dewey in marble in the grand entrance explains James’ gift to the city.
The EDITH ADAMSON CARILLON
Surmounting this building and comprising twenty five bells
Was presented in June 1967, by James Wilfred Adamson Esquire
In memory of his Wife and in appreciation of all that this city has meant to him.
The Edith Adamson carillon is the heaviest 2 octave carillon in the world, with a total all-up bell metal mass of 22t, being fully chromatic and pitching 3 semitones down in A. The baton clavier is circa 137ft, the lowest bells 157ft and the highest bells are 170ft above ground level. The belfry has an 80% openness, enclosed in a copper-louvered belfry, topped with 12 large and 8 small seahorses designed by J. R. M. Cheyne.
Recital times Fridays 1500-1600 and, from June, Mondays 1500-1600 and Fridays 1500-1600 – recital times can change and notifications are given at www.facebook.com/newcastlecarillon
Heaviest bell: pitched to A, 71 cwt, 1 qr, 13 lb (3630 kg)
Construction: 1963-1967, J. Taylor & Co.
Carillonneur: Jonathan Bradley
Tyne and Wear