In terrific weather on September 2, 2023, there was a splendid event to celebrate the installation of the bell. A group of people, many ringing bells of all types, walked from the Man and Boy statue to Breakwater Beach, where the town band gave a terrific performance. Pauline Neal spoke about the meaning of the bell both nationally and locally, and was followed by Marcus, who gave the artist's perspective. Councillor Michael Roseveare accepted the bell on behalf of the town, and Helen Lovell, Area Officer of the Fisherman's Mission, pointed out the meaning of bells to fishermen, and gave it a blessing. And finally, just round the corner at the Shoalstone Pool, there was a performance of the Time and Tide Bell Commission On the Strandline. A terrific day, a finale to five year's work on the part of Pauline, Chris Bryson, and others.
July 6 2023 marked the end of an extraordinary period of time - about 8 years - for Rob Payne, Liz Dixon and their colleagues in Happisburgh to have been working on getting the bell in place. Their delight that the installation had at last come to pass shines out of the video below, as does Rob's beautiful analysis of the range of meanings the bell can embrace.
The triumphant installation was followed on a slightly rainy Sunday 9th by the celebration. Among other speakers Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall powerfully placed the bell in its Norfolk context, and in particular the fast eroding Happisburgh cliffs. As did Nick Crane, formerly of the BBC's Coast programme, remembering damp encounters with other Time and Tide bells. The Red Rebel Brigade made an enigmatic and very powerful appearance (accompanied by a rather lonely climate denier).
Dedicated by Pete Moser, at 1.31 on June 23 2023, to the strikers of the NEU and the people of Palestine.
The beautiful day of Tuesday, June 6 2023 saw, at long last, the installation of the bell. It was a triumph for the sustained effort, over five years, of Pauline Neal and her colleagues, and more recently Chris Bryson. It could not have taken place without a great deal of hard work from the Brixham Gig Club, as a glance at the video will make abundantly clear.
On a day of glorious weather, May 27 2023, the bell was finally inaugurated - a triumph for Richard Parks, Phil Gadd and colleagues at the Friends of Par Beach. It was a double festivity, because it very deliberately coincided with PAR-teee, organised by our dear friends of Prodigal UPG, who created a rich day of "PAR-formance and PAR-ticipation", including a wonderful performance of our commission On the Strandline.
Another glorious moment was a procession along the beach of about 300 people, led by a band and above all the Green Team, from year 5 of Tywardreath School, to hear the sound of the bell, followed by the answering ringing of the school bell, originally used by ARP (Air Raid Protection) Wardens in the second world war; two forms of warning.
The video below captures a tiny flavour of the day.
April 20, 2023, was a big day on Par Beach! It was the culmination of years of hard work by Richard Parks and his team at the Friends of Par Beach.
The complex new structure was carefully placed onto the helical piles that had been bored into the sand. All was done in time for the incoming tide.The striking white struts are in fact stainless steel covered with clay cylinders - homage to the local China Clay industry.
This stunning design is a wonderful addition - the ninth - to the family steadily growing round the coast. The photos below illustrate it from various perspectives, and at different times of the day. The bell is fully submerged at high water springs, hence the need for the (temporary) buoy above it - it would otherwise be a hazard to navigation..
Stand by for a huge day on May 27. Not only will the newly installed bell be formally inaugurated, accompanied by much festivity and celebration, but our dear friends from Prodigal UPG will be putting on PAR-teee, 'their 'free, family festival of PAR-formance and PAR-ticipation'! What more could anyone want?
It isn't strictly about sea level rise, but the current (at the time of writing) cyclone causing havoc in the North Island of New Zealand has prompted this very impassioned speech by James Shaw, co-leader of the Green Party.
Here is a particularly successful improvisation with two performers, at High Water Springs in January 2023.
The bell was formally inaugurated by Cllr Ivan Henderson, Mayor of Harwich Town Council, on October 9, 2022. It was a terrific day, with children performing to a shanty, speeches, thank-yous to the many people who had brought the project to life, and a specially written shanty. About 150 people were present, and the bell duly rang. It is the eighth to be installed around the coast of the UK.
The video below features a conversation between Marcus Vergette, whose concept the bell is, and Libby Scarfe, prime mover of the project in Harwich.
There is also a good interview by Owen Ward of the podcast Essex by the Sea here.
Triumphantly, the bell was installed on Sunday September 25, 2022. The first new bell for 3 years! It is a triumph for all concerned, above all for Libby Scarfe.
Fairly obviously the pictures show varying states of the tide..
The design and construction of the mounting of the Harwich bell marks a departure for Time and Tide Bells. It is made entirely from oak, in fact an oak that was blown over near Marcus Vergette's studio in Devon. As a result it is extremely low in carbon content - very little steel. These photos are from the studio.
The installation was undertaken by partners Trinity House, a charity with a range of duties including General Lighthouse Authority, which amounts to maintaining lighthouses and buoys round the UK coast. It is based in Harwich.
Trinity House takes safety very seriously, so our cameraperson was not able to get very near the action!
This month's recording at high water springs is dedicated to mothers: Pete's mother-in-law Eileen McDonald, his mother, who died in February aged 100, and Barbara Wood, who died in August.
After a long period getting funding and developing the design, the Happisburgh bell is at last taking real shape. Shown below is the radically different structure on which it will be mounted - a sled. Made of oak, it is a response to the continual erosion of the Happisburgh coastline, at somewhere around two to five meters a year.
The intention is that when the bell finds itself marooned at sea, it will be dragged inshore on the sled at its base. This is yet another commentary on the transience of this part of the coast, indeed of much of the East coast of the UK. For more information about coastal erosion in the area see here or here.
There is no date for installation yet, final permission is still required from the Marine Management Organisation, but there is a fair chance it will be in the Autumn of 2022. Until then the bell is a popular feature in residence at the local primary school.
After a huge amount of preparatory work, the Harwich bell will be formally revealed at 11.30 on Saturday October 8th. This event will form part of the Harwich International Shanty Festival, a huge gathering of Shanty-lovers. They have written a special Shanty for the installation.
Marcus Vergette has chosen a novel structure for the mounting of the bell. Made of oak, it will greatly reduce carbon emissions compared with a metal structure. The photos below show the structure under development at Marcus' studio, together with
The photo below shows it being unloaded at our partner for the physical installation, Trinity House (responsible, among other things, for the management of lighthouses around the coast, and based in Harwich).
Almost as old as the oldest civilisation is the myth of the flood. The story of a few who survive the waters through divine intervention, and the help of a boat… but the flood we face is not a myth, and we have no one to save us but ourselves….
…the opening line of this spectacular performance event held on the beach at Cemaes close to the Time and Tide Bell with the extensive sands and the sea as a backdrop. Cemaes likes boats and the rise and fall of the sea is the daily experience for many – the work could have been written for us. Entertaining, moving and provocative in equal measure, the event was created to jolt locals and holiday makers alike out of their complacency with a profound
reflection on the future.
Sunday 24th July 2022 was stormy, following a day of indoor workshops on a showery Saturday. The lovely group of young performers set up the scaffold construction on the wet sand as the tide receded and we all stared at the sky. An ad hoc performance in the drizzle ahead of the main event attracted some curiosity. Who are these guys? But by 3pm the tide turned, the sun came out and the crowds assembled. In the background of some of the photos you can just see the sandstorms blowing across the very exposed beach – it was indeed blowing a gale. Highly experienced performers they didn’t flinch and carried it all off perfectly, together with an interlude from the doughty band of kids showing off their movement techniques. They absolutely loved being part of it.
The powerful soundtrack of spoken word and music was an essential part of this moving theatrical event, created to highlight the growing and now inevitable threat to coastal communities from climate change. Passionate about a call to action the visiting group brought in local climate change experts Robin Grove-White and Frankie Hobro from
Anglesey Sea Zoo to stimulate discussion amongst the audience.
Take away points. Personal action to reduce one’s individual carbon footprint does help for starters but collective initiatives and lending our voices to campaigning groups are vital both for morale and for influencing political decisions. If there was any hopeful message from that call to action it was the transition to renewable energy in which Anglesey is at the forefront. Right behind the beach at Cemaes is one of Wales’s first wind farms, over twenty-five years old now and there are many new wind, solar and tidal renewable schemes either built or in the pipeline. Clearly the way to go – ‘we have no one to save us but ourselves’.
Photo credits: Gareth Jones, Helen Grove-White
This poem was originally a contribution to Tania Kovats' film COTIDAL - but we thought it and its film deserves a place of its own.
Pete Moser's salute to high water springs on March 4 2022. His grand tour has been delayed a bit - but it will definitely happen.
Here is Jon Best's contribution to a number of poems written by the Poetry group in Par.
Saturday March 5th 2022 saw much fruitful work by Richard Parks, chair of the Friends of Par Beach. All to the backdrop of a half-bell just delivered by Marcus Vergette, currently in Cornubia, the local venue encouraging social enterprise, encouraging creativity and promoting healthy living.