Shipton Bells – the return

Back in the autumn last year, Mike Brooks reported on the refurbishment of the church bells at Shipton. All the bells were removed and taken up to the foundry in Loughborough. Here, Mike takes up the story.

By the time that you read this, the bells should be ringing out again to call people to worship and proclaim the presence of the church in Shipton. Also, the clock will again be striking the hours, hopefully to the delight of all those who have declared that they have missed it.

Whilst the bells were at the Bell Foundry and Works of John Taylor and Co in Loughborough, a party of us visited the foundry as part of the contract with Taylor’s to refurbish the bells. We were shown a video of the bell casting process, as no bells were being cast on the day of our visit. This was followed by a talk on the history of the Taylor family and their involvement in the casting of bells; interestingly Taylor’s first works was set up in Oxford in 1821 before moving to Loughborough in 1838. The present purpose-built works and foundry date from 1859 and is the only dedicated bell foundry left in the UK. Their bells go literally all over the world – bells were awaiting despatch to the USA and Sri Lanka during our visit. Shipton bells were being worked on in the tuning shop using machinery which dated back to the beginning of the 20th century.

Having seen the progress of work on the bells we expected to see them returned to Shipton soon after our visit. Unfortunately, this was not to be, as during the tuning process the 3rd bell suffered a catastrophic mishap due to a malfunction of the tuning machine. This meant that the bell had to be recast at Taylor’s expense. The recast bell will carry the dedication “John MacVicker, Tower Captain 1986-2011”

The bells, less the 3rd as mentioned above, were finally delivered on Wednesday February 20th. They made for an impressive sight with their new cast iron headstocks painted bright red bearing the names of local families who sponsored them or that of a relative to whom the donation was dedicated: Andrews, Cable, Harris, Vickers and Yates. They came complete with a new set of bell wheels, still smelling of fresh wood preservative and at the time of writing are in position in the church tower following much hard work by Taylor’s bell hanger assisted by several local volunteers. The 3rd bell is expected back in March so by now, as I mentioned earlier, we should all be able to enjoy the peal of bells which are so emblematic of village life.

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April – May 2019