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Thursday 5 February 2009

Gong forever

Melissa Pionzio, a journalist and blogger for the Hartford Courant in Conneticut USA, has reported the demolition of the Gong Bell water tower in swanky East Hampton CT. Local teenagers, doubtless driven by raging hormones, were often inspired to scale the tower to graffiti messages to the person of their desire. Resident Tracy Kemp added that the water tower lasted 25 years longer than Billy's declared love for her.

The loss of this tower was also recorded by a local
photographer R J Phil who noted on his blog "I wonder how many people will even notice that it is gone? When you see something every day, it becomes a part of the landscape of the town; a symbol of the manufacturing history that once was...

At 1:30 today they held a "ribbon-cutting" to begin the demolition of the Gong Bell water tower. The Gong Bell Co. made toys with bells in them during the early and middle part of the 20th century, many of which are very collectible now. East Hampton was (and is) known as "Belltown, USA", due to the number of companies producing bells here beginning in the mid-1800's. The Bevin Bros. Mfg. Co. is the only one left in East Hampton (and the the US) now, still producing fine bells after over 150 years.I know that the tower is old and unsafe, I understand the liabilities involved - BUT - I would like to think that the ceremony is a send-off for the landmark, rather than a "good riddance" to something that once stood as a monument to manufacturing in East Hampton, and the US in general. Having grown up here and seeing the tower every day, I will miss it, for it is one more thing from East Hampton's past that has gone the way of the bulldozer. The tower has looked over our town for almost 80 years and has seen a great deal of history come and go - the last train through in 1964, the fire in 1973 that burned down the Gong Bell factory and the commercial expansion and residential development that changes forever the small towns these sentinels protected. Rest in peace. "

Over 30 bell foundries once existed in East Hampton. Gong Bell Manufacturing Company is credited with inventing the first toy telephone and the first foot bell ever used.

The tower had been maintained for fire safety after the factory had closed but the town council now believe "the tower is no longer necessary for fire suppression," said town council chair Melissa Engel in a speech at the demolition ceremony. "Because we now rely on modern day pumps."

It has to be asked, as it can be shown, what if these electric pumps fail? The widespread flooding in the UK in 2008 knocked out electricity substations that drove water pumping stations, causing complete havoc in fire prevention and public health. The beauty of water towers is that gravity never fails to deliver water to anywhere below where it is stored.


r.j. phil said...

Hi -
Thanks for including my photograph on your most interesting website. One correction though - we are in East Hampton, Connecticut, not New York. Our area hosted many resorts in the 1920s and 30s - we were the Hamptons before the Hamptons!!
r.j. phil

Nat Bocking said...

Correction made. It's just the same when Americans come to Britain. You have to be sure of which 'Stratford' you want to travel to.