Church Bell and Fresh Fish

For whom the church bell tolls? Bells rung to announce fresh fish stagecoach from London arrived!

In December 1900 the Derby local newspaper Mercury carried a story that  possibly captures something of the clip-clopping magical sound-world of stagecoaching with the live backing of church belfries.

When the coach from London arrived 'in olden times' there was an arrangement for church bells to be rung so that people who had ordered a delivery of fish might rush to get it as fresh as possible.

It was said that the six bells of St Peter's would call out 'Here's fresh fish come to town!' Next came All Saints', further along that stretching main streetway in Derby, with a peal of 10 bells this time, 'Here's fresh fish come into the town!' Just beyond All Saints' stood little St Michael's, with three bells only, and one of those cracked, and the sense of its peal was 'They're stinkin!" But St Alkmund's with its six-pack a little further on again replied 'Put some salt on 'em, then!"

(Excerpted from Victorian Derby -- A portrait of life in a 19th-century manufacturing town by Harry Butterton, Published by Breedon Books Publishing, 2006.)

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