History - Van Bergen Bell-foundry


This page informs you about the family Van Bergen, who had a bell-foundry in Midwolda from 1795 to 1956. The firm Van Bergen is being continued in South Carolina, USA, by children of the Van Bergen family. In the Bell Casting Museum in Heiligerlee you can familiarize yourself with the centuries-old craft of founding bells.



Van Bergen Logo


Van Bergen slogan


Van Bergen has been serving the International and United States markets for over 200 years. Van Bergen prides itself on providing the highest quality in cast bronze bells, carillon instruments, moving figure displays, clocks and bell towers. The cast bronze bells produced by the firm are more precisely tuned and more beautiful than bells cast anywhere else in the world.


Van Bergen Bell-foundry

Midwolda and Heiligerlee, Holland


In the seventeenth century, Dutch bell-founders began the fine tuning of cast bronze bells. So explosive was the demand for sets of these bells in the Netherlands that the Van Bergen bell-foundry became the leader in the industry, incorporating in 1795. The Van Bergens had a bell-foundry in Midwolda between 1795 and 1956. The Van Bergens also made clocks. In the church tower hangs a big bell that was founded in 1807 by the bell-founder Andries Hero (Heeres) van Bergen. Andries Hero is de oldest known ancestor of the dutch bell-founder family Van Bergen. He was born in 1768 at Oldersum (Ost-Friesland, Germany) and died on 7 July 1847 in Midwolda. He was the son of the "Mast- und Pompmacher" Hero Andries van Bergen, who lived in Norden (Germany). Andries Hero van Bergen started the Bell-foundry in Midwolda in 1795. From 1795 to 1847 (the year he died) he cast in Midwolda 148 bells. Most of the bells cast before1835 are now in Ost-Friesland. After that he sold most bells in the north of the Netherlands


Van Bergen Bell-foundry, Midwolda-Holland

Van Bergen Bell-foundry, Midwolda - Holland


After his death in 1847 the firm virtually stopped operations. Then mainly towerclocks were made. Andries Hero left two sons who were also bell-founders, namely Hero Andries, born in 1797 and died in 1852, presumably in Ost-Friesland and Udo Andries, born in 1800 in Midwolda and died in 1878 in Winschoten. In 1853 the firm in Midwolda was given new life by the oldest son of Udo Andries, namely Andries Hero II, born 1 March 1835 in Midwolda and died 18 september 1913 in Heiligerlee. In 1862 Andries Hero II obtained permission to start a bell-foundry in Heiligerlee. His father Udo Andries continued working in Midwolda. Initially his brothers Berend en Hero Andries also worked in the foundry in Heiligerlee; they were born in 1844 and in 1846 respectively in Midwolda. In 1871, however, there was a falling out between the brothers, after which Berend and Hero Andries returned to Midwolda, to continue the firm of their father and grandfather. They gave their foundry the name "Concordia" and signed their bells with "Gebroeders van Bergen-Midwolda". Two sons of Berend, Udo Andries II, born in 1883, and Jacobus, born in 1886 in Midwolda, continue the firm after the death of their father. After the second world war (1940-1945) Udo Andries II stepped out of the firm. His brother Jacobus continued the firm for a number of years. However, he was no businessman and his bells did not conform to the high standards set after the war for modern bells.


Van Bergen Bell-foundry, Heiligerlee-Holland

Andries Hero II van Bergen, three sons and workers upon completion of large bells. Heiligerlee, Holland -1906


On 1 January 1956 he sold the firm toWolbert Jacob Koek, who cast a few small bells, but closed the firm definitely in 1970. The front of the Edens' shop on the Mainstreet 124-126 still shows its origin as a bell-foundry. The bell-foundry in Heiligerlee was closed in 1980. Here bells were made for a variety of purposes. They not only made church bells, carillons, and bells for ships for the Netherlands, but also exported their high-quality products to the USA, Japan and Brazil. Apart from casting bells, the firm in Heiligerlee also made fire engines. In Heiligerlee the Bell Casting Museum remembers the time that the family Van Bergen produced bells and clocks here. In this museum you can get acquainted with the centuries-old craft of founding bells. For groups they give demonstrations.


Van Bergen Company

Charleston, South Carolina, USA


The van Bergen Bell-foundry brought two carillons to the New York World's Fair in 1939. Both carillons were sold, through the late Harmannus Tjapko van Bergen, one of the three brothers Van Bergen, thus commencing world wide operations.


The late H.T. van Bergen

The late H.T. van Bergen, World's Fair, 1939 - New York

Harmannus Tjapko sensed the German threat and let his wife and son come to America. They ended up in Greenwood, South Carolina. After the second world war (1940-1945) H.T. van Bergen started a bell foundry there, a foundry that remained in existence until 1980. At the moment his son Harmannus H. van Bergen, is President of the bell and carillon plant at Charleston, South Carolina. Harmannus was born October 8, 1935 at Bilthoven, Holland. He studied the art (casting - tuning - playing) in Europe. He learned to play the carillon while at college, studied with the late Kamiel Lefevere, Riverside Church Carillonneur, New York City, and is an associate member of the Guild of Carillonneurs. His bell expertise has been developed over a period of more than forty years. Handing down the tradition of careful tuning and casting from generation to generation has allowed Van Bergen to grow and continually improve its products.


The late H.T. van Bergen and his son H.H.van Bergen

The late H.T. van Bergen and his son H.H. van Bergen, President of the Van Bergen Company, Charleston, SC.

In the mid 1970's, Van Bergen consolidated with the famous Paccard-Fonderie de Cloches of Annecy, France. The bell-foundry was established in 1796, and seven generations of Paccards have made more than 80,000 perfectly tuned bells there, which have been sent all over the world. This merger of knowledge and experience continues today in the production of cast bronze bells, more precisely tuned and beautiful than bells cast anywhere else in the world. Expanding to meet the needs of customers, van Bergen added the clock and bell tower product lines. Developing unique custom dials, and crafting superior operating systems to maintain clock performance, has been the mark of success for van Bergen in this field.



Van Bergen Company, Charleston

Van Bergen Company, Charleston, South-Carolina, USA


In the 20th century, to meet the ever changing demands of the marketplace, Van Bergen entered the digital sampling field. Solid state systems, providing digitally sampled true bell sounds with user-friendly operating systems, have kept Van Bergen at the top in the bell and carillon industry. From 1795 to today and beyond, Van Bergen is committed to meeting the expanding musical needs of its customers through: Restoration, Automation, Electrification and by providing the outstanding beauty and sound of our True Cast Bronze Bells enhanced with Custom Tower Clock and Bell Operating Systems.


The art of Bell-founding


Brick vormBell-founding is an art which has passed from father to son for generations. Many casting techniques, which were developed years ago, are still used today. Each bell is custom made using the "lost wax" process. A brick form is built using a rotating strickle board which determines the profile of the bell. CastingA false bell and an exterior mold, called the cope, are created. When the false bell is removed, a space is exposed just large enough to receive the expensive molten bronze: an alloy of about three quarters copper and one quarter tin. After cooling and cleaning, the bell is ready for the last and most important step: tuning. By testing with traditional tuning forks and sophisticated electronic instruments,  the bell-founder can verify harmonic variances. Then by shaving metal from the bell in exactly the right places,  Engraverhe can lower the notes to perfection.  This is a remarkable process used for all sizes of bells! Even the largest tuned bell in Europe, the 20 ton Paccard Savoyard at the Sacre-Coeur in Paris, was tuned by this method. Bell-founding is truly the work of artists, who have developed, through painstaking effort, the necessary skills to create a beautiful and virtually indestructible instrument. The sounds of Paccard bells are justly famous, Concentrated work was done by the late Alfred Paccard to develop bell profiles (shapes) which intensify the prime and subdue the minor third harmonics. Therefore, the sound of each Paccard bell is pleasing to the ear.





Short Facts



Van Bergen
Carillon Supplies


Centralia Carillon


The Centralia Carillon Richmond, Virginia, consists of 65 bells. The largest, nicknamed "Great Tom," weighs 5 1/2 tons. The total weight of 61,000 pounds makes this one of the heaviest instruments in the world.



Ravenscroft School


Ravenscroft School
Raleigh. NC



Carillon University of Nebraska


Carillon with 47 bells from the University of Nebraska at Kearney, Omaha



First Congregational Church


Carillon of the First Congregational Church, Riverside, CA.



First Baptist Church


A big bell of the First Baptist Church at Greenville, South Carolina



Morehouse College


Morehouse College,
Atlanta, GA




Van Bergen
Digital Carillon Systems


Flemish Master Carillon

Flemish Master Carillon


The Flemish Master Carillon and the Renaissance Carillon are fully-automatic carillon systems that features an extremely sophisticated microprocessor clock system which includes all of the traditional bell rings such as the Westminster Chimes, Whittington Chimes, St. Michael's Chimes, Winchester Chimes, etc.


Renaissance Carillon

Renaissance Carillon




Van Bergen Company
since 1795


This is how the present director, Harmannus van Bergen introduces his firm. Thus he makes clear that he is proud of the uninterrupted tradition of more than two centuries. That tradition, however, may end. There is a successor, but his name is not Van Bergen. His son has other plans. Because of this there will be an end soon to what once started in East-Groningen.








Van Bergen Company
PO Box 12928
Charleston, South-Carolina 29422-2928, USA
Phone. 1 843 559-4040
Fax.1 843 449-0797
E-mail: hvb@vanbergen.com
Website: www.vanbergen.com



Questions or critics should be directed to info@midwolda.nl.
Copyright 2017 , Digitale Dorp Midwolda. All rights reserved.

Last modified: januari 22, 2016