The ill-fated Great Bell of Moscow (or Tsar Bell) is now a tourist attraction in The Kremlin, but for 103 years it sat gathering dust in a 33ft-deep pit into which it was cast in 1733 by order of the Empress Anna Ivanovna. Ivanovna envisioned the Great Bell of Moscow as the successor to Tsar Alexis Mikhailovich’s 100-ton bell, which was destroyed by fire at the Kremlin in 1701. The new bell was to be taller at 20ft 7in, have a larger diameter (22ft 8in) and weigh in at 200 tons. By 1737 it was being decorated with reliefs and had been hoisted above the casting pit to cool down when another fire broke out in the Kremlin, causing blazing rafters to fall on the bell. In their haste to rescue it, onlookers poured water onto the inferno, which caused the bell to crack and dislodge a piece that weighed 11 tons. The bell fell to the bottom of the pit and, in September 1939, The Engineer’s JR Nichols took a fresh look at the story. “Some time ago – 27 August 1937 – in a reference to the Great Bell of Moscow in the correspondence columns of The Engineer, the present author mentioned that the raising of so great a weight over a century ago no doubt presented some problems,” he said. “As a...