NS2684 : The tomb of Henry Bell

taken 7 years ago, near to Rhu, Argyll And Bute, Great Britain

The tomb of Henry Bell
The tomb of Henry Bell
Henry Bell is commemorated by other monuments, such as NS4373 : The Henry Bell Monument at Dunglass near Bowling, and another obelisk in Helensburgh: NS2982 : In memory of Henry Bell.

The memorial in the present photograph stands in the kirkyard of NS2684 : Rhu Parish Church, and was erected by fellow engineer Robert Napier, who also provided some of the funds for the building of the church itself (see the listed building report mentioned in the end-note; for more on Napier himself, see NS3975 : The Napier Vault).

For other images, see NS2684 : The tomb of Henry Bell (detail), and another contributor's earlier picture: NS2683 : Grave of Henry Bell in Rhu churchyard.

The inscriptions around the base are rather worn, but read as follows:

NEAR: "Henry Bell / Born 7th April 1767 / Died 14th Nov 1830 / His spouse / Margaret Young / Died 30th April 1856."

RIGHT: "Underneath / lie the remains of / Henry Bell / and his spouse and true helpmate / Margaret Young."

LEFT: "The / Comet / built for Henry Bell in 1811 / was the first steam vessel in / Europe / which successfully navigated / rivers and open sea."

FAR: "Erected / by / Robert Napier / Engineer and Shipbuilder / Glasgow."

The modern building in the background is a nearby primary school. On the steam vessel Comet, see NS3174 : History of PS Comet. Some sources give a different month for the date of Bell's death, but it was in November, as indicated above.

Much more information can be found in the book "The Ingenious Mr Bell", by the late Brian D. Osborne, who was a Geograph contributor (see LinkExternal link for his images). Bell's grave, in Rhu kirkyard, was unmarked for a long time, even though Bell had previously provided a memorial there for Captain Robert Bain (of the above-mentioned Comet). The Henry Bell Monument at Dunglass (see above) was erected in 1839, but it was Robert Napier who provided the memorial shown in my photograph: "Napier remedied the lack of a memorial to Bell by erecting a statue in Rhu churchyard in 1853"; nineteen years later, "he again recognised Bell by becoming one of the major contributors to the monument to Bell on the seafront at Helensburgh" [from the book just cited].

For a related memorial, that of Captain Robert Bain, which is located nearby in the same kirkyard, see NS2683 : Memorial to Captain Robert Bain.
Rhu Parish Church
The present-day church (1851), the third to stand on this site, is by William Spence, with later additions (c.1891) by Honeyman and Keppie; see its listed building report LinkExternal link (at Historic Environment Scotland) for further details. A portion of the wall of the second church (1763) survives in the kirkyard, where it forms part of a memorial to James Buchanan of Craigend Castle.
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NS2684, 28 images   (more nearby )
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Date Taken
Friday, 3 June, 2011   (more nearby)
Saturday, 11 June, 2011
Geographical Context
Burial ground, Crematorium 
Place (from Tags)
Period (from Tags)
19th Century 
Person (from Tags)
Henry Bell  Robert Napier 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 2674 8400 [10m precision]
WGS84: 56:1.0503N 4:46.8719W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 2674 8399
View Direction
Northeast (about 45 degrees)
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Other Tags
Churchyard  Memorial 

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