Meet Tortoise! This black painted cast iron novelty bell was acquired by W. J. Bassett-Lowke it is thought sometime before 1926; the year that the Bassett-Lowkes moved to ‘New Ways’.
Similar cast iron table or desk bells of German manufacture were being made around the turn of the twentieth century.
At New Ways, Tortoise lived on a small table in the entrance hall. In the days when people did not lock their front doors during the day visitors would announce their arrival by depressing the head or tail to make the bell ring. This would alert the maid or housekeeper Mrs Cauldwell. It is reported that Tortoise was a delight to all young visitors who were sometimes given to repeated ringings. The patience of the adults was saved by the run down of the clockwork mechanism bringing temporary silence until rewinding.
See Tortoise on display at 78 Derngate during the month of August.