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Ring out, wild bells

shiptonoldbells0Since the last report on the bells in the June/July edition of The Wychwood Magazine, thanks to the continued generous support of the local community, the bell fund has reached the target of £70,000. Donations are still coming in and these will ensure that there will be a sufficient amount in the fund to cover any contingencies.

The bell founders and bell hangers, John Taylor & Co of Loughborough, are due to start removing the bells from the tower on 1 October, a process that will take about four days. Between this date and the last ringing, which is due to take place on 23 September, some of the ringers and other volunteers will remove the bell ropes and dismantle the bell fittings in readiness, just leaving the bells for the bell hanger to remove from the tower assisted by able bodied local volunteers.

After being lowered from the tower, the bells will be transported to Taylor’s factory in Loughborough where they will be checked over, repaired as found necessary, lightly tuned and fitted with new headstock and clappers and other fittings including refurbished bell wheels. Each bell will be dynamically tested on a special rig at the factory to ensure accuracy of alignment and striking. The Sanctus bell will undergo similar restoration and the clock hammer, which strikes the hours on the tenor bell, will be stripped down, refaced and its bearings overhauled and lubricated. All metal fittings will be given appropriate anti-corrosion treatment and the woodwork of the bell fittings will be dip treated with wood preservative.

Whilst the bells are away from the tower, the bell frame will be cleaned and painted for which volunteer labour is required.

It is hoped that the bells and their fittings will be returned to the church in December where they will be on display before being hoisted into the tower and installed in the bell frame. The fittings will be correctly adjusted and new bell ropes attached and left in good ringing order. The clock hammer will be installed and reconnected to the clock. The bells will be tried out by a band of bell ringers in the presence of the bell hanger to ensure that all is well with the installation before he leaves the site. The process of reinstalling the bells is expected to take between eight and ten days, again with the assistance of volunteer labour.

If all goes to plan, the bells should be ready for Christmas celebrations. If anyone feels that they could help with painting of the bell frame and/or installation of the bells please contact me on 01993 830014.

Mike Brooks

October – November 2018