Bell Ringing

Articles

With The Best Will In The World

It all started back in 1992 when the bells were recast. In an honourable effort to brighten up our Ringing Room to go with the new bells the thick lime plaster was removed from the stone walls, and the lower parts – which were mainly plaster with wooden top and skirting – were repainted. However, since then, redecoration seemed to have taken a "back seat" to the ringing of the bells. The lighting was improved on the tower steps in 1995 and in the Ringing Room itself in 1997, however something needed to be done with the clock mechanism.

The original position of the mechanism on the south wall of the Ringing Room meant that no light could get in through the south window, and also any tall ringers on the back three (sixth, seventh and Tenor) bells had to mind their head. Our aim was to open up the window once more and provide more space in the Ringing Room for the ringers. The amazing thing was that we managed to continue our normal pattern of ringing throughout the entire process.

Work restarted with a vengeance in 1999. The first step was to remove the red and white pinstripe carpet that had quite literally caused many a headache over the years; then to remove the old wooden casing from the clock mechanism to give us some access, after which the mechanism itself was lowered to the Ringing Room floor and dismantled, the various cogs and such like being placed into cardboard boxes. One of the floor-to-ceiling cupboards that had contained one of the clock weights was also removed. The original weights dropped all the way to the floor of the church porch below and had to be wound back up every week by hand, but a pair of electric motors (one for the clock, one for the striking mechanism) and considerably smaller weights were installed some years back to take over that job.

With the clock out of the way we were able to chip and scrape the remainder of the lime plaster from the stonework behind where the clock case used to be. The walls were then treated with several coats of PVA to seal in the dust. Eventually, the time came for the clock to be rebuilt again in its new position, resting on two steel box-section beams which were suspended between a pair of heavy-duty steel brackets, themselves bolted to the wall. This meant that the entire mechanism, including the steel beams, was above the top of the window with the pendulum swinging across the opening. Both of the clock weights now dropped down inside the one remaining floor-to-ceiling cupboard, even then only coming down half-way.

A wooden framework was built around the clock mechanism and beams, and the entire structure was clad with pine tongue-and-groove including a perpex-fronted case below the clock to protect the pendulum. This somewhat obstructed access to the window, but at least the light could now filter through. Ironically, before long we found ourselves hanging a blind in that same window to keep the sun out of our eyes!

The lower part of the walls was also clad with tongue-and-groove – it was attached horizontally, rather than the more common vertical orientation, in an attempt to make the room seem larger. This worked well, however the old door, which is constructed from three vertical planks, now looks comparatively tall and narrow. This door, along with any other woodwork in the room which wasn't tongue-and-groove, was given a finish of chocolate brown paint which complemented the reddish-brown stonework and pine cladding. Blue carpet tiles were laid soon after, completing the look.

But that was by no means the end of the story.

Next: Determination and Renovation