Century-old Antarctic Bell Signals Start Of International Cricket
A special brass bell from Canterbury Museum’s collection will ring out at Hagley Oval this summer to signal the start of international cricket matches.
Inspired by a similar tradition at Lord’s Cricket Ground in England, the bell from a ship used in Robert Falcon Scott’s first expedition to the Antarctic in the 1900s, will be rung to signal 5 minutes before start of play.
This includes two one day internationals between the White Ferns and Pakistan in December, two T20 games between the Blackcaps and Pakistan in January and the second test between New Zealand and Australia in March.
The bell will be rung by different cricketing figures at the invitation of Canterbury Cricket Trust. On Friday, it will be the turn of former White Ferns(#87) cricketer Elizabeth Signal. Liz and her twin sister Rose were the first twins to play test cricket together in the same match.
Canterbury Museum first opened its doors in 1870 and cares for the taonga (treasures) of Waitaha Canterbury and Antarctica, along with a quarter of the dispersed national collection. The bell is one of many significant objects in the Museum’s world-renowned Antarctic collection.
Museum Tumuaki/Director Anthony Wright says that Ōtautahi Christchurch has a close and long connection to Antarctica. Scientists on Scott’s two Antarctic expeditions worked in the Museum on their way south to the ice. “It’s fantastic that an historic bell which played a role in the heroic age of Antarctic exploration will now become a part of Canterbury’s rich cricketing tradition.”
Canterbury Cricket Trust Chairman Lee Robinson said he was pleased to begin a new tradition at Hagley Oval. "We are delighted that the Museum is partnering with us to provide this bell for the 23/24 international cricket season at Hagley Oval and participating in a cricket tradition where significant matches are commenced with the ringing of a bell. This has been a long-standing practice at Lords, the home of cricket.
"The Museum holds an important role in the history of the city; cricket was established here and on this ground by our English forefathers. It is entirely appropriate that the Museum shares this tradition with us at Hagley.”
The Museum’s Rolleston Avene site is currently closed for a major 5-year redevelopment, but the pop-up Canterbury Museum at CoCA is open at 66 Gloucester Street, dedicated to highlights of the collection – including displays from the old Antarctic Gallery – visitor favourites and temporary exhibitions.
About the Bell
The bell came from the SY Morning steam yacht, which was used as a relief vessel on Scott’s British National Antarctic Expedition (1901–1904). Formerly used for whaling in the North Polar region, the ship was built in 1871.
The Morning made two relief voyages to Antarctica – one in January 1903 and a second in January 1904 – carrying a cargo of food and equipment.
Ernest Shackleton was invalided back to New Zealand with scurvy on the Morning during the first relief voyage. Lieutenant Edward (Teddy) Evans, who was second officer and navigator of the Morning, fell in love with Christchurch woman Hilda Russell between the relief voyages. They were married at St Barnabas’s Church in Fendalton 12 days after the Morning returned to Lyttelton in April 1904.
After the Antarctic expedition, the Morning was returned to England and sold back into the whaling industry. The ship remained on record at the start of World War One.
Traditionally a ship’s bell was a timekeeping device used to mark the segments and duration of the eight-hour watch duty. One strike of the bell marks the half hour, and two strikes marks an hour. The term “eight bells all’s well” refers to the completion of an 8-hour watch – the bell would be sounded in a pattern of two strikes and a pause, repeated four times.
It would also be struck regularly during foggy conditions to indicate the ship’s location to other vessels.