Rothesay town bell relocation is approved

The gardens on the corner of Montague Street and High Street will provide a new home for Rothesay's 19th-century town bell.
The gardens on the corner of Montague Street and High Street will provide a new home for Rothesay's 19th-century town bell.

Work to install Rothesay’s town bell in a prominent town centre location has been approved by local councillors.

Members of Argyll and Bute Council’s Bute and Cowal area committee gave their backing this week to a proposal that the bell be installed in the gardens on the corner of High Street and Montague Street.

The bell was positioned at the top of the building which housed the town’s sheriff court and council chambers until the property was sold to Fyne Homes for housing; it was removed in 2008, and has been kept in storage at Bute Blacksmiths’ Rothesay workshops ever since.

A report considered by the area committee on Tuesday stated that the relocation of the bell would be regarded as ‘permitted development’ - i.e. not requiring planning permission - and that the cost of polishing it and putting it in position can be met from the Provost’s Fund.

The cost of a concrete plinth will be paid for from the authority’s amenity serviced budget.

The overall cost of the work is not expected to exceed a few thousand pounds.

No date has yet been set for the work, but it is hoped the bell - which will have a metal disc fitted, ensuring that it can’t actually be rung - will be in place by the spring.

The bell is inscribed with the legend ‘Rothesay Town Bell - 1876 - Recast by John G. Wilson, Founder, Glasgow’, though Ian Sinclair, who spent all his working life in the Castle Street building, told us when the bell was removed of a letter to Rothesay Town Council from Stephen, Miller and Company, dated December 23, 1834 and informing the council that “the bell is ready”.

The same letter revealed that the bell cost 108 16s 7d.

Latterly the bell was only rung on the occasion of the funeral of a serving or former Provost of the Royal Burgh; it tolled for the final time on April 29, 2006 for the funeral of Donald MacPhail, who was the last Provost of Rothesay.