St Michael's has a fine clock in the Church tower. This was bespoke built for our Church in 1883 by Potts of Leeds. Potts of Leeds was a major British manufacturer of public clocks, based in Leeds, Yorkshire.
William Potts was born in December 1809 and was apprenticed to Samuel Thompson, a Darlington clockmaker. In 1833, at the age of 24, William moved to Pudsey near Leeds, to set up his own business. Initially, the business was primarily
concerned with domestic timepieces, however, this gradually expanded into the manufacture and repair of public clocks.
In 1862, the business moved to Guildford Street, Leeds, and later, a workshop for public clocks opened nearby in Cookridge Street. This heralded the most productive and profitable years of the business with a large number of public clocks being installed both home and abroad for cathedrals, churches, town halls, schools, engineering works and railways. Queen Victoria granted the company a Royal Warrant in 1897.
The business was renamed William Potts & Sons Limited as a result of three of William's sons joining the company, however, after the First World War, two sons started their own clockmaking business; Tom Potts left in 1928and Charles Potts left in 1930. William Potts & Sons Limited joined the Smith of Derby Group but very wisely, and with such a well-recognised name, Potts retained its identity and the Leeds base. Today the Potts name is still recognised and active in the North of Britain.
It is claimed that there are more than 1600 Potts clocks in existence around England and Leeds has a Potts Clock Heritage Trail walk.
In 1986, our clock was mechanised, however the winding system proved to be very noisy. In 1996/7, a new mechanised system that was much quieter was installed. In recent years the Church clock was recently returned to full running order after a very long lay-off due to the complexity of the repairs.
In August 2010, the Cumbrian Clock Company came along to St Michael's to investigate the state of the northern face of the clock and surrounding stonework since a potential problem was highlighted by the architect in the 'Quinquennial report' (which is a five-yearly check on the Church fabric). There's more to the Cumbrian Clock Company than just fixing and maintaining clocks.
St Michael's Church bells were cast by Llewellins and James of Bristol in 1883. The cost of the complete ring of 8 bells was around £700 at that time.
St Matthew Bell £56/3/9 £3,891.28
St Mark Bell £59/6/3 £4,105.93
St Luke Bell £65/11/3 £4,535.68
St John Bell £74/18/9 £5,182.61
St Jude Bell £87/8/9 £6,055.03
St James Bell £96/16/3 £6,702.43
St Paul Bell £120/5/0 £8,326.11
St Peter Bell £148/7/6 £10,229.45
This ring of bells is believed to be the only remaining complete ring of 8 cast by this firm still in the original state ‘as cast’, retaining all original features and fittings.
Our historical peal of 8 bells are rung regularly for the main Sunday services. Details of our bells are as follows (please note cwt = hundredweight):
St Matthew Bell, 5.00 cwt (254.10 kg), E
St Mark Bell, 5.75 cwt (292.10 kg), D#
St Luke Bell, 6.75 cwt (342.90 kg), C#
St John Bell, 8.25 cwt (419.10 kg), B
St Jude Bell, 10.25 cwt (520.70 kg), A
St James Bell, 11.75 cwt (596.93 kg), G#
St Paul Bell, 15.50 cwt (787.44 kg), F#
St Peter Bell, 20.00 cwt (1016.05 kg), E
Total weight = 83.25 cwt (4229.29 kg, 4.16 tons, 4.23 tonnes)
As you can see, each bell bears its own name and weigh from ¼ ton for treble to 1 ton for tenor.
In 1930s they were rehung on bell bearings and 1/4 turned. No further work was needed until mid-1990's when the bells were rehung in a new frame due to excessive wear on original. The work was done by Pembletons of Derbyshire at a cost of over £70,000.
Ringing practice normally 7.30 on Mondays but at the moment not starting till 8 p.m. from 6th September.
If you would like to have a go yourself, come up and see us any Monday.