Revamp of historic PE landmark nears completion
The bells of Port Elizabeth’s revamped landmark Campanile will be ringing in a whole new sound for the historic tourist attraction when they begin chiming in earnest early next month.
The much-anticipated refurbishment of the dockside tower is in its final stages, with its 23 bells chiming every hour as part of a testing phase before they officially begin ringing on May 11 after nearly a year of overhaul work.
The Campanile – meaning bell tower in Italian – and the Port Elizabeth City Hall clock tower will be connected using a wireless internet modem to ensure their bells do not ring simultaneously.
Ibhayi Construction director Craig Maybery said the contractor was doing the finishing touches.
“They are cladding the lift and will start commissioning and certifying it next week. The ghost bells have also been installed.”
Maybery explained that the “ghost bells” – replicas of the bells in see-through plastic – hang in a part of the building called the “triple volume” and will be used to replicate whatever sound the big bells make.
“We are also now busy finishing the paving and working on the stairs – making it pretty.”
Music professor Albert Trotskie would this week confirm and certify that the bells, which residents will hear on the hour every hour, are in fact musically correct.
Mandela Bay Development Agency spokesman Luvuyo Bangazi said the contractor was busy with important final touches.
“The Campanile is far from complete but we are in the final stages of the project. We are excited the work is going according to plan with the exception of the one-month delay,” Bangazi said.
The refurbishment was delayed when the lift had to be ordered.
“We are looking forward to a new and exciting tourism facility. People will love the completely refurbished new space which has a lot of new exciting additions.”
Bangazi said the Campanile could be used for art exhibitions as well as a visitors’ centre, among other things.