Today the shell of St Luke’s stands at the junction of Liverpool’s Renshaw Street and Berry Street and is a poignant reminder to the horrors that Merseyside faced in the dark days of World War Two. Building work on this beautiful building commenced in the year 1811 and the church was finally consecrated in 1831. In 1829 bells were installed and rang out across the city with their loud musical chimes. Their sound however was not to everybody’s liking and complaints began to emerge from the echelons of well-to-do society.
On their behalf Mr. Henry Lawrence wrote to the Liverpool Mercury and complained that the daily noise of the bells was so intolerable that they should be removed from the vicinity or at most only rung on special services. Being positioned on cast ion frames, as opposed to the standard wooden type he believed added to their particular unwanted vibrations. In addition, the position of the church was such that reverberations greatly affected the bedroom windows of houses in nearby Rodney Street causing ‘serious injury to property in the neighbourhood.’ The melodic issue appeared to split public opinion with letters were sent to support the removal of the bells to other churches as others argued that they were an added improvement to the city.
It was estimated that the cost of removal would not have exceeded £200 and that it would have taken approximately three months to complete. St. Martin in the Fields, in Silvester Street, was quite capable of housing the instruments but at this point I can find no further reference of their exact fate.
In 1834 however a Stranger’s Guide to Liverpool does mention that the church of St Luke’s houses ‘a fine peal of bells hung in the tower’ so it would appear that by this point the bells and their divisive chimes survived to sound another day. I intend to discover more about this mysterious tale as research continues.
If you have any information please get in touch as it would be brilliant to know for sure exactly how the story plays out.