eXtensions - Monday 8 October 2018


eXtensions - Travels with Cameras, a Mac and an iPhone (3): Bells in the Streets

By Graham K. Rogers


What was thought to be ancient bells mysteriously left at the side of the road, turned out to be a relatively modern use of technology aimed at deterring trucks from causing damage.

In my recent trips to the UK, I have arrived in late July when the weather has been quite good. This year, arriving in October, I was treated to a couple of really nice days, albeit somewhat colder than I am used to. That changed on Saturday, the day of the party, which was wet in that persistent way that only English rain can be. The forecast was for rain all day until around sundown.

A couple of years ago, I went to the village of Soulbury where what is thought to be a meteorite lies in the road. It has been there for an estimated 10,000 years, even being used as a platform by politicians at times; but the local council panicked when a motorist hit it. They feared liability claims and resolved to move it.

Soulbury Rock

Local objections, however, prevailed and it is now protected by warning white lines. If one motorist hits a rock that has been embedded for 10,000 years in the road, it may not be the fault of the rock: it is not invisible. At the suggestion of a family member I had a look and took some photographs. Just before I went out of the door on Saturday, the same family member mentioned that he had seen some bells in the streets. There was one in Heath and Reach, with another in Wing. He told me he had never seen any such bell-like objects anywhere else.

I drove to Heath and Reach, a Bedfordshire village a short distance from the family home and, just as he had said, at the side of the road, not far from a bus stop was a single, bronze bell about 40cms in height. I presumed this was made of bronze as it has been in place for several years, in all weathers.

Heath and Reach

About 10 kms away, in the village of Wing, which is in Buckinghamshire, where the twisty main road leaves the village for Aylesbury, there are two almost-identical bells at the side of the road. We were unsure how old these artefacts were or their purpose.


The bells seemed to be a mystery until I started editing the images and saw an inscription on the first I had seen. It seemed to be Furntubes, and then I noticed a .COM which would seem to preclude ancient history. Using Google search, the browser page offered a suggestion of Furnitubes. A closer look at the image showed that there probably was an "i" there too.

A closer look at the Furnitubes site showed that they had developed a Bell Bollard in the mid-1980s. These were not bronze but made of cast iron. My family were somewhat surprised but a look at the browser page seemed to make the point. Instead of a historical connection, there was a practical answer.

The location of the Heath and Reach bell bollard is by a sandpit from which heavy trucks exit most of the day. Turning left or right onto the road may cause them to cross the kerb. Likewise, the corner in Wong where the two bells are sited experiences a lot of heavy traffic and it is easy for trucks to drive on the path while negotiating the tight bend. The bollards would certainly deter that.

See also:

Travels with Cameras, a Mac and an iPhone (1): Return to UK
Travels with Cameras, a Mac and an iPhone (2): The Dance of the Red Kites
Travels with Cameras, a Mac and an iPhone (4): Live Railway Museum Visits
Travels with Cameras, a Mac and an iPhone (5): Linton Zoo
Travels with Cameras, a Mac and an iPhone (6): Walks in the Country; Apple Watch 4; a Delayed Flight Home<>/a>

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. After 3 years writing a column in the Life supplement, he is now no longer associated with the Bangkok Post. He can be followed on Twitter (@extensions_th)



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