The Loughborough carillon, in Queen’s Park, was the first grand one in the UK. It is based on 47 bells and follows the Belgian bell music tradition. To make it work a clapper is forced down onto the bells from levers at a keyboard (clavier). It was built to serve as a war memorial and paid for by the public. It honours 480 Loughborough men who died in World War I.
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The 47 bells were cast at Loughborough at the Bell Foundry Museum and have a range of four octaves. The largest of the bells weights 4.25 tons and the smallest 20 pounds. The note of the largest bell is A flat. The opening recital took place on July 22, 1923. The Memorial Chimes is the name of the piece of original music composed for the carillon by Sir Edward Elgar. There is a program of recitals during the late spring and summer and on market days (Thursday).
Inside the tower is a war memorial museum with three floors of militaria. On the ground floor are medals, badges, hats, and regimental squadron and association ties and badges.
The first floor represents the Leicestershire Yeomanry collection and includes a number of uniforms from the early 1900s to the present. There is a full size model horse complete with 1912 saddle. Photographs and other wartime mementoes are on display.
The second floor is home to a World War I collection, the property of the Borough council and a World War II collection donated.
The third floor houses the carillon keyboard. The viewing balcony is reached from the belfry and looks over the town and Charnwood hills. The tower is 46 metres high and there are 138 steps to the top.
Loughborough Carillon and War Memorial Museum
Tel. 01509 263370
Open: tower from April-end Sep, Sun-Wed and Fri, 1-4.30pm; on Thu and Sat, from 10am-4.30pm.
Web: Loughborough Carillon and War Memorial Museum
Photos © by Barbara Ballard