The Tower and Bells were dedicated in 1888. The set of nine moveable bells was cast at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in England, and shipped to Maryborough; the Tower was constructed locally. The entire project was financed by prominent pioneer settler Edgar Aldridge, in memory of his wife Maria (who had died in 1886); Edgar himself died seven weeks after the dedication. Bells 6 & 7 are named Maria and Edgar in their memory.
Thursday 17 March 2011 marked the 125th anniversary of Maria’s death. Bellringers came from Brisbane, Sydney, and Perth to ring a full peal on the following Saturday. For pictures, see Events Archive 2011.
This full peal was the last for quite some time, because the bells and associated fittings were in need of significant maintenance. A preliminary report (under the auspices of ANZAB, the Australia New Zealand Association of Bellringers) indicated this would necessitate their return to Whitechapel. Their total absence was expected to approximate six months. In fact they were uplifted Monday 16 April and returned Monday 10 September, an absence totalling 21 weeks. Fr Jim McPherson, priest in charge of The Anglican Parish of Maryborough at the time, wrote a poem about their absence, which was published in the Spring issue of ANZAB’s magazine “Ringing Towers”.
The pictures below (from the preliminary Report) show some of the damage of the years.
The parish launched a public appeal to raise the $150 000 needed for this refurbishment. The Tower is a significant Maryborough landmark, and the Bells enrich our community life in many ways. The appeal was officially launched by the Archbishop at a dinner hosted on 30 July 2011.
Archbishop Phillip Aspinall with Fraser Coast Mayor Mick Kruger (2011)
David Smith (ANZAB Executive) with the Archbishop
Catholic priest Fr Paul Kelly and Lutheran priest Pastor Sam Davies with the Archbishop
The bells were successfully restored to the tower on Monday 10 September 2012, and fitting and installation are now complete. The Fraser Coast Chronicle has a photo gallery which has some wonderful shots of a wonderful day – click here.