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Halifax Explosion Bells to be Re-dedicated

(Thursday, December 2/04)-- The Halifax Explosion Memorial Bells will soon be ringing once again after an extensive cleaning and repair of the bells, the structure and the carillon mechanical parts.

Mayor Peter Kelly will officially rededicate the bells during the annual ceremony at Fort Needham on December 6 to commemorate the Halifax Explosion. Members of Halifax Regional Council and other dignitaries have been invited to attend.

The story of the bells is intricately linked to Barbara Orr. As a young lady, Barbara was running to look at the ship on fire when the Halifax Explosion took place and she was blown to the top of Fort Needham. Barbara donated a set of 10 bells in memory of her family, who were killed in the Explosion. In 1921, when the United Memorial Church was dedicated, it was Barbara Orr who played the bells. Many years later, the bells proved to be too great a weight for the church tower and they were lowered to the lawn, where they rested beneath a tarpaulin for eight years.

In 1983, the Halifax Explosion Memorial Bells Committee, founded by the late Edmund Morris, launched a public appeal to build a Halifax Explosion Memorial Tower on Fort Needham. In the spirit of this public endeavour, a design competition was held and the design by Keith Graham, a local architect, was chosen. At the time of construction, it was decided to enhance the musical selection that could be played by adding four new bells. These bells were a gift of C. Russell Isnor. In keeping with the tradition established 64 years earlier, Barbara Orr was given the honour of being the first to play the memorial bells on June 9th, 1985 when the new Halifax Explosion Memorial Bell Tower was dedicated. On this occasion, Barbara was assisted by her cousin Bill Orr.

Recent refurbishing included re-coating exposed structural steel, repairing the electrical and mechanical operating mechanisms and cleaning each bell. Prior to this work being done, corrosion had affected a number of the bells and they had stopped working.

Chris Allworth, Director of Music at the Atlantic School of Theology, will be playing the bells at the 2004 Halifax Explosion Memorial Service scheduled for 9a.m., Monday, December 6th, at Fort Needham in north end Halifax..

Mayor Peter Kelly
(902) 490-4010

John O’Brien
Corporate Communications Officer
(902) 490-6531

Larry Oakes
HRM Capital Projects Division
(902) 490-4148

Above content last modified Thursday, November 02, 2023 at 11:40am.