William Bilbie,a son of Thomas Bilbie (see April Roundabout), was active in bell founding from 1777 to 1790, though things never seemed to go well for him. His first wife died leaving two children, and, as was the custom of the time, he quickly remarried. He was also burdened by financial obligations to his brother's widow and children. Although a competent clockmaker and bellfounder, he lacked his father's business flair.
In 1785, he cast a bell for Pilton church. This weighs 12 cwt (600kg), has a diameter of 42", and is in F#. This bell is still in use.
William had two sons, one by each wife, and he left the business to each of them equally. Neither son showed much enterprise; they were most notable for heavy drinking together around Chew Stoke. Sadly, the family business faded away.
I have a soft spot for William as I almost always ring the bell that he cast for us all those years ago, and I have a grandfather clock made by him ticking away at home chiming the hours .
For centuries church bells have been rung to celebrate important occasions and events. Special ringing took place far and wide on the actual birthday and the official 90th birthday of HM Queen Elizabeth II. Peals, quarter peals and shorter pieces were rung, not just in Great Britain but also in Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
On the Queen’s birthday on 21st April Pilton bells were rung for half an hour, and at Croscombe we celebrated with a quarter peal of Cambridge Surprise Minor. Also at Croscombe on Saturday 11th June, her official birthday, a quarter peal of Plain Bob Doubles was rung by members of the local band: Treble – Bill Lloyd; 2 – Gordon Johnson; 3 – Peter Felton; 4 – Neil Tully; 5 – Ken Brown (Conductor); Tenor - Phil Kitcher. This quarter peal also celebrated the 95th birthday of HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, on the previous day.
Pilton and Croscombe ringers were among those who enjoyed the annual outing of the local branch of the Bath and Wells Diocesan Association of Change Ringers on Saturday 4th June. We rang the bells at West Chinnock, Hinton St George, Dowlish Wake, Kingstone, Seavington St Mary and Merriott. The weather was kind, much to the relief of those who did the tour by bicycle!