Lancaster & Morecambe College’s Fabrication and Welding Apprentices have recently been involved in Morecambe’s newest art installation – The Morecambe Bay Tide and Time Bell, which is sited on the stone jetty suspended over the sea.
Justin Buckley and Ryan Kitchen both Level 3 Fabrication & Welding Apprentices who now work with local engineering company Bay Fabrication, were both heavily involved in the design and fabrication of the steel struts and collar which support the bell. They worked with marine grade steel on a complex, precision engineering design to deliver a highly polished set of supporting struts and collar. The final installation was handled by local company VolkerStevin, who had the near impossible task of suspending the bell over the tide on Morecambe Bay, in the typical unpredictable UK weather.
The whole concept was the idea of Devon based sculptor and musician Marcus Vergette, an artist with international acclaim. Marcus first had the idea back in 2007, to seek to raise public awareness of the threat of climate change by installing a number of bronze bells around the coast of Great Britain. He gifts the bells themselves to each community who then project manage and fundraise the cost of their installation. Marcus requests that every bell’s installation be developed from within the community, utilising local suppliers where possible and involving apprentices. The Morecambe Bay bell’s installation and other costs have been paid for by grant support from Arts Council England, Morecambe BID, the Galbraith Trust, the Eric Wright Trust and local fundraising organised by Morecambe Artist Colony who have been managing this project for three years.
The national project will eventually consist of a permanent installation of 12 bells situated around the UK coastline. Each bell will sound as high tide approaches, energised by the movement of the waves. As the water rises and falls the bell’s clapper will strike a varying gentle pattern of sounds which become more frequent and vary in pitch due to the level of the tide. The first bell was installed in July 2009 at Appledore, Devon and the second on the Isle of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides in June 2010. Subsequent bells have also been installed at Trinity Buoy Wharf, on the Thames in London, (2010), the fourth in Aberdyfi, Snowdonia National Park, Wales, (2011) and the fifth in Cemmaes Bay, Anglesey (2014). The Morecambe Bay bell is the sixth installation in the grand plan and the seventh will be in Mablethorpe, Lincolnshire later this year.
As a key Apprenticeship provider in the local area, LMC have links to over 700 employers, delivering apprenticeships across 30 areas, with the aim of equipping students to be well placed to securing employment with businesses across the region. Charlotte Rawes, Director of Apprenticeships and Employer Engagement and Committee Member of Morecambe Business Improvement District (BID) said regarding the project, “Lancaster and Morecambe College are delighted to be able to support this project; a community based, creative project which utilises our employers and apprentices who have high technical skills in fabrication and welding, whilst also raising awareness of environmental issues, both of which are truly at the heart of LMC’s core values”.