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THE BELL MAST

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The Bell Mast was originally made as a wrought iron ship's mast, which was fitted to the H.M.S. Undaunted, at Chatham. There are several warships known as Undaunted, although according to the dates, it is likely that the mast came from one of the five Immortalite Class of screw frigates. HMS Undaunted was the last and largest of the Immortalite Class and was built in Chatham between 1859 and 1861. It is speculated that wrought iron masts were a new concept at this date and their installation in HMS Undaunted may have been experimental. Sadly, the rapid progress made in the development of steam propulsion quickly rendered the design redundant and the ship was de-commissioned and scrapped in 1880. The mast lay ashore unused for some years until it was restored and converted into the Chatham Bell Mast in the early years of the last century. It was erected at Chatham in 1903, the peal of its bell signalling each change of shift for shipyard employees, and continued in service until the Dockyard closed in 1984. The Mast was carefully taken down for repair in 1992. Standing at 100ft tall and weighing 20 tonnes, the Mast was re-erected in 2001 with the area surrounding the base becoming an area of public open space. This design of this space includes several interpretative features, which describe the history of the Bell Mast and give information about its size and construction. These features include a 'time-line' wall and a small permanent exhibition.

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