The Darke Memorial Chimes were presented to Metropolitan Methodist Church in Regina by Mr. and Mrs. Francis N. Darke in memory of their son, Clifford Albert Darke. The chimes were dedicated October 23, 1927. In presenting the bells, Francis Darke expressed hope they “be a memorial and tribute to the early pioneers of this city, whose faith and great vision did so much to place the civic and religious life of this city on an exceptionally high plane and made possible the splendid city we now enjoy.” The church has changed its name to Knox-Metropolitan United Church but Darke’s hope is carried forward through ongoing support of the Chimes by the Regina Bell Ringers, the Church, the City of Regina, and the Saskatchewan Government.
The bells were cast by Mears and Stainbank of London, England, a firm established in 1570, which has made all the bells for Westminster Abbey. The peal consists of twelve bells, weighing nearly sixteen tons in all, tuned to the diatonic scale of C, having a span of an octave and a fifth. The largest bell weighs about two tons and has two clappers since it serves as a toll bell as well. The bells are controlled by individually hung ropes arranged in the ringing chamber in a circular fashion. Several ringers can work at one time or one person can play a melody line.
The Chimes ring for various state, local and religious events. Traditions in the tower cover many areas. One is to ring out the news regarding the monarchies of the world. Many events include Change Ringing, an ancient art in bell ringing. There is no music published for either the Wascana Chimes or Darke Memorial Chimes. All music performed on these instruments is either arranged by a ringer or written specifically for the Chimes. Many pieces rung today are entries from the Composers Competition.
The Regina Bell Ringers established a number of traditions for ringing the Darke Memorial Chimes and the Wascana Chimes.
- Rounds: When the tower bells are rung in quick succession starting with the highest pitch, this is said to be ringing rounds. Twelve sets of round are rung before and after ringing music in the tower.
- Twice Through: Each piece is played through twice. This gives the public a chance to really appreciate the tune being played.
- Weddings: The ringers begin by ringing rounds, then to get a “joyful sound” all the ringers closely follow each other so that three or four bells will be ringing at one time. To announce in a most loud and striking way that one less female is available in the community, the bells are clanged together twelve times. This is known as the wedding clashes.
- Funerals: When a reigning monarch dies, the bell tolls once for each day of the reign. On request, by the City, Province, National Leagues or church, the bell will toll once for each year of the life of important Community figures.