For whom bell will toll

Ben, 10, and Kane, 11, with the 1860s bell. Picture: Kristian Scott

A Sunbury school is searching for an appropriate place to display a 60-kilogram bell that predates the town’s historic mental asylum.

The bell, made in the 1860s for Sunbury’s original industrial school at Jacksons Hill, has been returned to Sunbury Primary School by Victoria University after being removed from the former asylum and university site last month.

Principal Sean Lawless said the school was working with the Sunbury and District Heritage Association to find a ‘‘historically appropriate’’ spot in the school grounds.

‘‘We are looking into mounting it on a wall or maybe something free-standing,’’ Mr Lawless said.

‘‘The key consideration is putting it somewhere close to where it was originally located.’’

Historical records show that, after the industrial school’s closure, the bell was used by the nearby asylum to signal when an inmate could not be located. It may also have been used as a dinner bell.

After several years as an exhibit at the town’s history museum, the bell was reinstalled at the former asylum site after it became a VU campus in the 1990s.

The bell remained at the site when the university closed in 2010.

As reported by

Star Weekly, its sudden removal last month prompted Sunbury Primary School, which is also based at Jacksons Hill, to call for its permanent return.