Bells hit the right note

Perth’s Barrack Square Bell Tower is a ‘living’ building. It flexes and moves to absorb the huge forces generated when the historic bells are rung.

Whilst the total weight of the bells is little more than nine tonnes, the lateral forces produced when bells are played amounts to five times that amount.

This combined with poor founding material, made it necessary for some forty-six driven piles to be installed to depths of up to twenty-eight metres.

It has been one of John Holland’s greatest achievements, to develop this architectural concept in to a working entity.

When people look at the Bell Tower due to be officially opened this Sunday, they will see a truly impressive steel, glass and copper clad structure.

They will enjoy the chimes as the famous eighteenth century St. Martin-in-the-Field’s bells ring out across Perth. In the evening, they will be in awe of the striking lighting display which will dominate the spire.

However, they won’t have any concept of the intricate and unique engineering solutions developed by John Holland and their subcontract team, that were needed to accommodate the eighteen bells.

Officially declared as ‘the largest musical instrument in the world’, Swan Bells is destined to become a world famous icon.

Already, bell ringers from around the world are arranging a visit to Swan Bells which boasts the only set of sixteen change ringing bells accessible to the public. Traditionally such bells are contained in the tops of church spires, way out of the public view.

"It has been created with a phenomenal team effort by all trades rethinking their usual approach and expanding their expertise to develop ingenious solutions" says Site Manager John Voorn.

"There is a huge sense of pride amongst the people who have worked on this project and it is something they will tell their children and grandchildren in decades to come".

"It stands as a monument to Western Australian subcontractors. They had to invent new building techniques to achieve what was a wonderful concept".

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