The Process

Tower Design Concept

The Bathurst Town Plan was developed by Major Thomas Mitchell, the Surveyor General, on instructions from Governor Darling.  It was published in 1837, two years after Governor Darling had been recalled to London.

Mitchell,_Sir_Thomas_Livingstone,_Explorer,_1792-1855,_NLAThe plan is based on a grid system of roads, not unlike that of a Roman town.  On the plan, the town square is shown as a blank space, with the sole exception that at the centre of the blank square the plan indicates a church.   The blocks created by the intersecting principal roads are numbered outwardly from the town square in a clockwise direction, and in a manner that suggests an opening spiral.

Portrait of Major Sir Thomas Mitchell (c1830s)

The architect interpreted this plan as being a blue print for a very particular way of life; one based on God being the centre and essence of civic life, as it would have been in a post Constantine Roman town i.e. a town square or forum, surrounded by civic and legal institutions.  The design for the bell tower acknowledges this legacy and strives to enhance it.SR1294-450x484Source: Courtesy Robin McLachlan and State Records NSW

The four walls of the tower are curved to form externally concave elements.  The shape formed presents a Celtic cross, thus an octagonal plan may be developed to reflect the eight change ringing bells that it houses.  The properties associated with curved walls are in the achievement of economy of strength, the introduction of openings that permit the passage of sound and enable visibility, and in generating an outward dispersal of sound rather than concentrating sound at its source.

The design also ties in other important elements within the Town Square. The Court House, the imposing mass of the Bathurst District Soldiers Memorial Carillon and the Cathedral entrance on which the bell tower is centred, are all aligned on the same longitudinal axis.  Additionally the top of the Court House dome, the top of the Carillon tower and the Cathedral spire also share a common height of 100 feet above ground level.

Bathurst street map

Significant Events During Tower Construction

* November 2007       The ground area was cleared in front of the Cathedral, builder’s fencing was erected and temporary access routes were established. Test drilling was undertaken which indicated stable subsoil existed 13.5 metres below ground level.

* February 2008      An auger of sufficient length was not available until late January.  Drilling commenced on the eight piers early February immediately followed by the location of reinforcing steel and concrete, tying-in and concreting the tower ring base, vestibules and ornamental ponds that comprise the ground floor.

* April 2008    Brick laying on the complex series of walls that support the first level started.

* September 2008     On 18th September concrete for the 11inch suspended floor for the Ringing Chamber was poured.  This permitted further upward progress on tower walls.

* November 2008  On 9th November the second floor (sound chamber) was poured.

* March 2009    Structure of tower was basically complete, the bell frame was installed and the roof was poured.

* April 2009   Bell installation started.

* June 2009   Bell installation concluded.

* June 26 2009    Bells were rung for the first time in over 110 years in the change ringing mode to celebrate the consecration and installation of the new Roman Catholic Bishop of Bathurst.

*June 30th 2009  Tolling bell installed on roof of tower.

* September 2009 Final installation of acoustic and ornamental glass and all sound louvres was achieved.

* October 31st 2009  Tower officially opened by The Governor of NSW, Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC. CVO. and dedicated by The Right Reverend Richard Hurford  OAM. Anglican Bishop of Bathurst.