Bell Adviser’s Report 2022
After two years when bell work activity was reduced due to Covid pandemic restrictions, 2022 saw a return to normality.
The St Clement’s training centre was completed in June after a major effort by members of the Association who raised and installed the steel framework then the six new bells and fittings - a total of 29 days’ work!
The 6 bells at Alconbury are being rehung by John Taylor & Co. We provided assistance to remove bell fittings and help to lower the bells which have now been transported to Loughborough.
Good progress has been made on fundraising at Landbeach for an augmentation to 6 bells.
At Sawston, quotations have now been obtained for the removal of the bells to be retuned and refitted with modern headstocks and fittings.
At Stretham, the installation of training bells is under consideration.
Consideration is being given to fitting modern bearings on the bells at Swaffham Prior and also an investigation into the need for a modern metal frame.
Other projects - New pulleys have been fitted at Longstanton and Leighton Bromswold. Wheel rimming has been reattached at both Whittlesey churches. The metal frame at Harston has been treated for rust and repainted. A headstock and three wheel halves have been removed from Keyston for refurbishment. Many inspections and minor repairs have been carried out as requested.
The bells at Tydd St Giles and Newton in the Isle are now unringable.
Volunteers - Finally, many thanks to all volunteers who have given their time freely to carry out the above work.
Bell Adviser’s Report 2021
The Covid pandemic restrictions resulted in a patchy year of activity with very little being done in the first three months; although the opportunity was taken to give Haslingfield a mid-life refit. This was followed by an inspection campaign to support Return to Ringing where the team visited 21 towers and carried out minor maintenance in at least eight.
Major projects – After a long period of negotiation with the Churches Conservation Trust, Swaffham Prior now has an excellent ‘going’ tenor thanks to Matthew Higby and the co-ordination efforts of Gareth Davies. Bury has two bells rehung with new headstocks and the tenor has been quarter turned, together with the secondary and tertiary foundation beams being clamped together. The St Clement’s training centre has had the two original bells relocated, the bases of the spire beams removed and a new steel ringbeam installed. It is planned to install the frame and bells before Easter. Two new projects are under development: at Alconbury it is proposed to rehang the bells lower in the tower and an augmentation to 6 bells at Landbeach.
For the future, the Return to Ringing inspections highlighted the need for regular inspections especially in those towers without an active band or steeple keeper. This will require widening the pool of competent steeple keepers and maybe linking towers together in more formal local support groups. This will then need to be supported by more training and production of training material. assistance.
Bell Adviser’s Report 2020
There has been a very limited amount of work carried out due to the Covid pandemic. Prior to the first shut down there was work being carried out in four towers and a number of inspections carried out. It has been hard to interpret what is permitted under the various public health restrictions but where possible various visits have been made and at my home tower, Haslingfield, we have used the opportunity to have a mid-life refit of cleaning up and doing all the little improvement jobs in the tower and ringing room.
Dove’s guide used the lockdown to carry out an updating and enhancement exercise of their records and I am grateful to a number of people who assisted with that, although it has left a list of seven towers that still need to be visited.
I gave a talk on care of bells, belfries and ringing rooms that is now available on the Cambridge District You-Tube channel and have been asked to produce an edited version for the CCCBR Technical Committee. I have also produced a paper for that committee on how a training and accreditation system for volunteers maintaining and working on bells could be set up following the format of the ART system.
Finally, a reminder that before ringing recommences its essential to check that the bells have not deteriorated. A quick visual check is all that’s required that nothing is obstructing the bells from swinging, the ropes are in good condition and the stays, sliders, wheels, pulleys and clappers are serviceable. If anyone is looking for help the District Bell Advisers will be happy to arrange some assistance.
Bell Adviser’s Report 2019
This has been the first year with formal District Bell Advisers and as a result it has been possible to provide advice and support to a much wider range of towers. The list of towers contacted for a variety of reasons last year reached 32.
Following changes to the BRF Constitution and the Bell Repair Sub-Committee Terms of Reference we are now planning to go beyond just offering advice to more practical help:
For large projects we will provide advice, work with ringers, PCCs and others to progress the project and supply voluntary labour to assist the bell hangers.
For towers with regular bands we are available to train steeple keepers and provide advice and help as required.
For towers without a regular band but rung by the Association we will provide a steeple keeping service.
For towers not normally rung we will endeavour to inspect and try and prevent deterioration.
This will require a larger team than just the bell advisers and we will be signing people up to a competency matrix (rather like the ART scheme) and giving them training to ensure everything is done safely.