Obituaries

Reginald Charles Badcock

Reginald Charles Badcock was born in the village of Lode on 26th November 1926, the only son of King Charles Badcock and his wife Agnes. His early life centred around Lode and the surrounding land and waterways where his father worked. He became well versed in the intricacies of pig and fowl rearing along with ferreting following his father’s lead.

When he became of working age he rode into nearby Cambridge and was successful in gaining a mechanical apprenticeship at the Cambridge Machine Company where he served his apprenticeship and became a tool maker. Following his National Service in Palestine Reg worked back at Cambridge for a number of years before secondment to Baldock and North London.

During his time in Cambridge he met and married local girl Muriel Pleasance and they moved to Lode sharing the house with Reg’s mother and father. In 1957 Muriel gave birth to a daughter, Sarah Ann. Reg eventually went to work for The Welding Institute at Abington near Cambridge and it was here that he became involved with the repair of cracked church bells.

In 1967 following the successful trials the details of the project were circulated to the Institute’s members but none took up the procedure. As the Institute is a research facility the jigs and materials used in the trials would be broken up and re-used and what was not of use would be scrapped. Reg together with another employee, Ken Clews presented the board with a plan where they would, independently, carry on the repair work at Reg’s home premises. The board agreed to this and the equipment was sold to a company, Soundweld, set up by Reg and Ken for a nominal sum.

During the early years cracked bells for repair were rare and other work kept the company afloat. Unfortunately Mr Clews became ill and died and Reg was left in charge of the company. Over the next few years the number of bells very slowly increased. In 1981 Reg retired from the Welding Institute to run Soundweld as a full time business. In 1987 I joined Reg to help run the business. In 1988 Soundweld welded “Great Dunstan” from Canterbury Cathedral and following this the number of bells for repair greatly increased.

In 1995 Reg took retirement although he was always on hand with help and advice. After retirement Reg concentrated on his garden fruit orchard and animals whilst carrying out numerous repairs to implements from friends and family. Reg had been a keen bee keeper for many years, at one time having over 100 hives, and these albeit at a much lower number, remained important to him in his later life.

In 2011 Reg lost his wife to cancer. He then continued to live at his home in Lode. Last year he was diagnosed with Leukaemia which he bravely fought until 22nd March 2014.

Reg was a little like marmite, but there was no doubt whatsoever about his technical skill and abilities and hard working attitude which served him well throughout his life. Bell welding owes a debt of gratitude to Reg as most, if not all, would have given up on the project in those early days when the repairs were so few and far between. Had he not kept faith in the process we would now be heading to Europe for our repairs. As it is, British bellwelding continues to thrive, so much so that it is not uncommon for Europe to come to us.

MARK STRUPCZEWSKI

BB BellBoard
CC
Central Council of Church Bell Ringers