Richard Court

Richard Court


    Historic Swan Bells ring out in Western Australia

    10/12/2000 7:10 AM

    The Swan Bells, the State’s millennium project, will be officially handed over to the people of Western Australia this afternoon.

    Premier Richard Court said today that thousands of people were expected at Barrack Square today to participate in free guided tours of the Swan Bells and witness the first official open ringing.

    Some of Western Australia’s most recognised faces will be the first people to ring the Swan Bells on behalf of all Western Australians.

    Mr Court said the first Swan Bell community bellringers were:
    • Archbishop Barry Hickey - Archbishop of the Catholic Church of Perth;
    • Archbishop Peter Carnley - Anglican Archbishop of Perth and Primate of Australia;
    • the Right Honourable Dr Peter Nattrass - Lord Mayor of the City of Perth;
    • Sir Frank Callaway – Patron of the Swan Bells Foundation;
    • Hugh Dunnachie - British Consul-General of Perth;
    • the Hon Ron Davies - former Agent-General for Western Australia in London who was involved in the original gifting of the bells to this State;
    • Lt Col Garth McKenzie - Divisional Commander of the Salvation Army;
    • Laith Reynolds - the man credited with the idea of bringing the bells to Western Australia;
    • Bill Hames - Executive Chairman of architects Hames Sharley;
    • Janet Holmes a Court - Chairman of John Holland Pty Ltd, builders of the Swan Bells;
    • Doris Martin - facilitator of the Bolgart Bell Tower;
    • Jhon Voorn - Swan Bells Site Foreman from John Holland Pty Ltd;
    • Shirley Delahunty - a great Western Australian athlete;
    • Bernd Stange - Coach of the Perth Glory;
    • Rechelle Hawkes -Olympic Gold Medallist and member of the Hockeyroos;
    • Alicia Curtis - Young Western Australian Achiever of the Year for 2000 in the environment category;
    • Matt Shier - joint winner of the Telethon competition; and -
    • Chelsea Reynolds - joint winner of the Telethon competition.

    The historic bells of London’s St Martin-in-the-Fields Church were gifted to Western Australia to celebrate Australia’s Bicentennial in 1988.

    Recognised by many as the bells mentioned in the popular “Oranges and Lemons” nursery rhyme, the bells date back to the 14th century and have played an incredible role in history.

    They rang out in London to celebrate victories including the Battle of Waterloo, they have signalled the ends of World Wars I and II, and they have rung to celebrate the coronation of every British monarch since King George II, including Queen Elizabeth II.

    Mr Court said perhaps the greatest significance of the Swan Bells was that they rang out to signal the homecoming of Captain James Cook, after his epic voyage of discovery to Australia.

    “As Australians celebrated our bicentennial in 1988, the bells which rang out over Captain Cook’s return were gifted to Western Australia from the Cities of London and Westminster,” he said.

    “They are now housed in the magnificent belltower on the banks of the beautiful Swan River, creating the largest musical instrument in the world and the first belltower in the world which allows the public to view the bells as they are being rung.

    “Importantly, the Swan Bells is the centrepiece of the redevelopment and revitalisation of Barrack Square which will be finished early next year.

    “Once uninviting and inappropriate jetties are being replaced with modern and attractive new jetties and pavilions, surrounded by some magnificent landscaping which includes tiles with the signatures of more than 200,000 young Western Australian students, and 10 mosaic art pieces representing every region of the State.”

    Mr Court said the Swan Bells was expected to attract more than 400,000 visitors each year, and was expected to become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Perth.

    He said the State Government had established the Swan Bells Foundation which would ensure that surplus funds which flowed from people visiting the Swan Bells were used to foster the education and advancement of youth in the fields of music and performing arts.

    “This exciting initiative will particularly benefit people from regional areas, as the Foundation will have to apply at least 30 per cent of its surplus monies to assisting youth from regional Western Australia in pursuing opportunities in music and the performing arts.”

    Free 20 minute public tours of the Swan Bells will begin at 7am this morning and conclude at 10pm, with the official opening celebrations to begin at 3.30pm.

    The first official open ringing of the Swan Bells will take place at approximately 4.10pm.

    Media contact: Justine Whittome 9222 9475