The Harwich Bell

Harwich is just to the south of the meeting point of the estuaries of the Stour and Orwell rivers. As the only safe anchorage between the Thames and the Humber, historically it had great civil and military maritime significance, becoming heavily fortified. It is therefore rich in a broad range of historic buildings and installations of many types. 

Built on a medieval street pattern, the whole of the centre of the old town is a conservation area on a small peninsula. It is surrounded by nautical activity, conspicuously the Harwich Haven Authority, which manages marine traffic and the local environment, the Trinity House East coast depot, responsible for maintaining lighthouses and navigation aids, ‘for the benefit and safety of all mariners’, various piers and jetties, and the terminus for the Hook of Holland Ferry.

Harwich today is contiguous with Dovercourt and the two, along with Parkeston, are often referred to collectively as Harwich. Felixstowe is on the north shore; although of similar antiquity to Harwich, it is today dominated by its container port, the largest in the UK, through which 40% of UK container traffic passes.

The bell is located next to the Low Lighthouse 

Podcast from Turning Little Stones

This is a charming and insightful interview with Libby Scarfe about her work with children at her beach school. It comes from the podcast series Turning Little Stones, by Caroline Allen. Much more here.

A conversation about the new bell

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 […]

The Harwich bell is installed

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..

Making the mounting and installing the bell

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 […]

Formal launch of the bell - October 8 2022

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 […]

A half bell at the Mayflower School

In October 2021 we presented a half-bell to the Mayflower School, which is near where the bell will finally be sited at the Lower Lighthouse. Much enthusiasm!

Finding a new site

It turned out that it would cost a great deal to create the foundations for the bell at the first site we looked at, on the spit of sand, shingle and mud that emerges at low tide. On April 16 2021 a group visited all the most promising sites around the town. The most promising, […]

Core drilling in Harwich

The proposed location for the Harwich bell is on a spit of sand that runs out from the beach. Obviously the bell will need a strong foundation - and so there needs to be an investigation of what is going on underground - core drilling. On October 23 Tendring District Council engineers brought along a […]

The bell location

Current thinking is to install the bell on a spit of gravel, exposed at low tide, running roughly Eastwards from Harwich beach, in the direction of Felixstowe.

Old Harwich

The heart of Harwich is remarkable. On the tight grid of streets there are innumerable historic buildings, together with a large number of structures of military or maritime significance - forts, lighthouses and more, together with the massive buildings of Trinity House, the Harwich Haven Authority and many other current marine businesses.

We hope to install the bell during the Shanty Festival, October 2021

Harwich has many festivals (even if most, if not all, are cancelled in 2020). We hope to install the bell during the Shanty Festival in October, 2021. These are illustrations from the 2019 Festival.

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