Bill Purvis (centre in photo, right) displayed the Carter Ringing Machine at the recent Midlands Model Engineering Exibition. It was designed and constructed by John Carter between 1895 and 1925.

Initially the machine was designed to ring a set of bells mounted on top of the machine, with striking by purely mechanical means. However, the sound of the machine was poor, and Mr Carter redesigned it to operate electrically, and a separate cabinet of bronze handbells was built.

The electrical pulses produced by the machine operate solenoids with hammers attached. This produced a better sound, essentially the same as peal by a team of handbell ringers.

Once completed, Mr Carter gave the machine to the Central Council of Church Bellringers, and they appoint two Stewards to ensure that the machine is maintained and kept in working order.

Initially, the machine was stored in the Science Museum in London. After a period during which the machine was just a static exhibit, an effort was made around 1950 to return the machine to working order. That was achieved and talks and demonstrations were given in the museum.

At some point it was relegated to a storage area. It was decided to move the machine to the Science Museum in Birmingham which is close to the area where Mr Carter lived and worked. Unfortunately, after some years there it suffered the same fate and was moved to the Museum at the Taylor Bell Foundry in Loughborough where it remains.

On seeing the machine there, Bill Purvis was intrigued by the mechanism and requested more information about how it worked. He was informed that Mr Carter left behind notes on

the operation of the machine, but no drawings. Bill took on the task of creating a set of drawings. The process involved partial dismantling and cleaning, after which the ringer worked well.

CAD drawings of the individual parts are now complete and some assembly drawings remain to be done. See also:

This machine was described in Model Engineer magazine in 1925, Vol 52 issue 1245 where it was described as “The Campanamutophone”.