Newcastle Civic Centre’s 1967 Christmas Carillon Bells have been digitised - we’d love to hear a remix

16 December 2020

"The recordings are amazing documents of a time and place, when Newcastle was changing quite dramatically"

Tyneside Sounds Society and Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums (TWAM) are inviting people to listen to Christmas archive recordings of the first time the carillon bells of Newcastle Civic Centre were played to the public, some 50 years ago. Download and listen here. 

The recordings, never before heard in full, were made by the BBC on 1 December 1967, a year before the Civic Centre was officially opened on 14 November 1968 by HM King Olav V of Norway.

Tyneside Sounds Society and TWAM would like music producers, sound artists, musicians and DJs to use the recordings to remake and remix something new using only the original recordings as a source. Find out how here. 

Michael McHugh from Tyneside Sounds Society and Outreach Officer at TWAM said: 

The recordings are amazing documents of a time and place, when Newcastle was changing quite dramatically.

“This is also a great opportunity for music makers and people who use sound in creative and innovative ways to make something new.

“Digital sound technology now means you can make anything with any kind of recording. The rule of only using the source audio to create will lead to some interesting results.” 

Cllr David Cook, Lord Mayor of Newcastle said:

“The carillon bells are one the iconic features of our beloved Civic Centre which have stood the test of time, and continue to be played by the talented Jon Bradley, while much of the building has been refurbished. It's great that Jon is able to continue the tradition so that we can hear them 'live' today.

“It is wonderful to be able to hear them being played for the first time with recordings from more than 50 years ago, and I’m excited to see what the creative individuals of Newcastle can produce with this piece of our city’s proud history.”

Newcastle’s Civic Centre is now a Grade II listed building and was designed by city architect, George Kenyon.  The bells sit in the main tower and are controlled by a carillon, which is an unusual musical instrument that can be played by a keyboard that activates levers and wires connected to clappers that hit the bells. 

The new tracks will then be broadcast as part of a special show on Star & Shadow Radio on Wednesday 6 January. Anyone interested in remixing the bells track can find out more at: 

The recordings, digitised and made available through the British Library’s Unlocking Our Sound Heritage project can be heard and downloaded for free via Soundcloud

Lizzy Baker, Archives Lead for TWAM said: 

Preserving and making recordings like this available for people to hear has been made possible through the Unlocking Our Sound Heritage project.

“The Christmas theme of this particular recording makes it especially topical to share at this time of year. 

“It will be exciting to hear what new things people make but its also a great opportunity to experience some of our heritage whist access to the physical collections is restricted at this time.” 

 Download and listen here.