This year marks the 175th anniversary of the present St Peter’s Church, which became Leeds Minster in 2012.
In 1896, A History of the Parish Church Of St Peter’s At Leeds was published and chapter eight deals with the history of the bells in the tower, which were distinguished in that they were purported to be the first bells to be cast off-site and brought to the church via railway - the usual practise was to cast the bells in the churchyard.
At the time of writing, the history informs us that Leeds was almost on a par with York and Sheffield in terms of the quality of its bells. York had a 54 cwt ‘tenor’ bell, while Sheffield boasted one at 41 cwt - the one at Leeds weighed 36 cwt.
However, while its rivals had 12 bells, as was usual, Leeds somehow ended up with 13.
The book notes: “The bells arrived in Leeds on January 24, 1841 and are said to have distinguished themselves by having been the first to travel on a railway - a contrast to the no unusual plan in olden times of casting in the churchyard.”
The 12 bells weighed 8 tons 1 cwt and 110 lbs and cost £1,203 16s 4d.
The bells they replaced were not simply disposed of, however, and may yet be in use today, although some checking after this fact may need to be done.
According to the history of the church, the six smallest bells went to St Michael’s, Headingley, while the ‘hour bell’ at Kirkstall Church was also said to have been one of the originals.
Also of note is this observation: “A very interesting view may be had from the top of the tower, when the city is free from smoke, but as the summit is only accessible by ladders, with everything black and sooty, the ascent is scarcely pleasant.”