Guild Newsletter

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Aston Cantlow - ‘Alls bell that ends Bell’.

Back in the summer of 2018 the ringers of Aston Cantlow were busy practicing for another quarter peal, having decided to ring one per month. Tracey who was ringing the second suddenly declared that she could not keep the bell up. I tried it and it was horrible, something must have broken. On closer inspection one of the gudgeon boxes that hold the shaft on which the bell turns had sheared off on its inner fixing, allowing it to twist and turn. We took pictures and sent them to Taylors for advice.

Taylors advised that the gudgeon box would need replacing or repairing and that we would need to lift the bell and remove the headstock. This would then need to go to Taylors for work to be carried out. A quote was prepared by Taylors setting out the price depending on what work we undertook ourselves. If they did the work we were looking at a number of thousands of pounds. After a lot of thought and advice from Simon Adams and Chris Tennant we decided to do a lot of the work ourselves to save money and get the job done quicker. Taylors said that it would take 4-6 weeks once they had the headstock.

Tracey and I now began to gather equipment we managed to obtain some hardwood railway sleepers from Singletons for cost price because of the job we were doing. These were to place across the frame to take the weight of the bell once removed from its headstock. Chris obtained a long length of M18 all-thread which we would use to lower the bell half an inch onto the sleepers after releasing the headstock straps. We stripped off the wheel, stay, slider and clapper and set a date to start work.

Chris (a mechanical repair engineer by trade), Hugh an ex Welder, Tracey and John set about dismantling and using the all-thread to lower the bell by winding down the nut went really well, we soon had the bell on the sleepers safe and sound. Removing the headstock was relatively simple until it came to lifting it out. Chunks of hardwood with steel shafts and bearings on the end are quite heavy!! Now came the job of hoisting it down the tower. At Aston we have two medieval ladders and a metal spiral staircase. It was manhandled down the first 45 degree ladder by John and Hugh, then let down on an old bell rope with three above and one guiding down the next almost vertical ladder. Finally the headstock was let down the next vertical drop on two ropes with 3 above and one guiding. All the nuts and bolts were carefully laid out in the belfry so that they went back in the correct locations and the rusty brackets were taken home and cleaned up including a coat of red paint. Hugh then delivered the headstock to Taylors (beginning of August). We began the long wait for Taylors to do the repairs. It turned out to be longer than we had ever expected with 6 weeks turning into 3 months and we began to think that we would not make the remembrance celebrations. Taylors were apparently very busy. Eventually with a wing and a prayer they ‘repaired’ our old gudgeon box and we collected the headstock the weekend before Remembrance Day. Apparently they did not have a mould for a gudgeon box that would fit ours being narrower than usual and making a new one would have taken even longer. Anyway nicely repaired it arrived back.

We had just one week to get the second back together for our remembrance rolling ring. So we duly arrived on Saturday afternoon Hugh bringing the headstock but this time missing our engineer Chris who was away on holiday.

Hugh was our stand in engineer and this time Heather and Ingrid would provide the muscle with Tracey and John assisting. So how to get this lump back upstairs? We have no trap doors at Aston so it was hoist it up the outside or in three lifts up the inside. We went for option two. There was no time to build pulleys and hoists so we went for brute force on two ropes hauling it up each level. Mr elf and safety had to look the other way on this occasion, although we made sure no-none was below each of the lifts and locked the vestry door to make sure. Heather and Ingrid with Tracey were fabulous at hauling the ‘beast’ back up. Once in the belfry there was a bit of tricky manhandling and then a very tricky lift into position on the bell (we were missing Chris). We toiled away for a couple of hours with Tracey passing tools and parts and John and Hugh putting everything back in place. Heather and Ingrid moved all the sleeper sections and wood planks down to the clock room and by 8.00pm having started at 4.00pm we had the bell back together.

So how much had we saved the Church? Well at least £2000 compared with Taylors doing the work, in fact probably a lot more. We found it quite fun if not hard work. In fact we think that doing some of your own bell repairs could be easier than people think. The most important thing is to make sure you have assessed risk at all stages and have put in precautions incase of problems. For example no one under a lifted object, always more than one person working, know your post code, double up if using ropes and a hoist or use a safety line, make sure the area is well lit, and many more things.

It is vital to get advice from the experts such as Simon Adams at Taylors or Nigel Taylor from Whites/Nicholson. Also talk to the Guild and put in for a BRF grant. Make sure you inform the diocese and obtain a faculty if required.

Anyway we rang our quarter for remembrance and took part in the rolling ring. Below is a picture of the Aston ringers involved with the ringing that day including the intrepid Aston bell hangers. If your tower needs help or advice with a simple repair, who knows, the Aston Hangers may be able to help you!!

John and Tracey Newbold and the Aston Cantlow Ringers

 

“Ding! Dong! Merrily on High, in Heaven the Bells are Ringing…”

As we approach the great feast of Christmas, and the end of 2018, I take this opportunity to give tribute to all ringers, willing volunteers, who give your time and skill selflessly week on week throughout the year. And what a year it’s been!

In December last year, I shared some “New Year’s Resolutions” for 2018, thus:

  • To recruit and develop new learners and new leaders
  • To engage maturely with the Church and other relevant stakeholders
  • To continue to raise positive public awareness of ringing

Looking back on the past 12 months, I feel confident in saying that we’ve embraced these aims wholeheartedly. Recruitment has experienced a massive boost, our “external relations” go from strength to strength, and we’ve had a bumper year of media attention – print, radio, TV and social.

Thank you!

Further, I offer my thanks to all those involved in the work of Central Council at whatever level. The call for reform, begun at Portsmouth in 2016, came to a crescendo at Lancaster in May this year. A strong vote of approval ushered in new governance and new structures, aimed at creating a more agile central body more responsive to the needs of ringers and ringing today. A good start has been made, and this excellent work continues. I am grateful for the way in which so many involved in Council’s activities have responded so positively to these efforts. If only the UK government could demonstrate such unity!

Still, it’s important to deliver on one’s commitments. For 2019, much is in the pipeline. Look out for the release of “Dove 11”, version 1 of the Framework for Method Ringing, a refreshed CCCBR website, further work on “leadership studies”, youth engagement, health & wellbeing, and more. My hope for the new year is to build on our recent successes, maintain focus on areas for improvement, and deliver tangible benefits and services across our widespread ringing community.

As Christmas bells call out across the land, may they bring us together in solidarity to share the pleasure of our art. Let’s continue to ring with precision, passion and purpose:

“Pray you dutifully prime, your matin chime you ringers!”

Christopher O’Mahony
President
The Central Council of Church Bell Ringers

Central Council AGM 2019

The Central Council AGM in 2019 will take place on Saturday, 7th September at Goldsmiths, New Cross, London SE14 6NW. The business to include reports of the Council’s activities, a presentation of its budget & forward plan, plus the opportunity to review aspects of its work in more detail.

The format, which is to follow that successfully introduced at Lancaster for the 2018 AGM weekend, is expected to also include workshops, seminars and sessions of interest to all ringers. These will be held over the whole weekend. The Reception and Dinner will take place on the evening of Saturday, 7th September.

All ringers will be welcome to attend during the weekend and take part in the activities on offer. Look out for details of how to register in due course.

Mrs Mary Bone
Secretary
Central Council of Church Bell Ringers
Charity Registration No 270036

Jane Does Her Bit for Ringing PR

Lillington ringer Jane Knifton contributed an article to the national magazine “Yours” for their “Try Something New” column. Her enthusiasm for ringing comes out in the article, entitled “Ringing in Friendship” and it obviously appealed to the editor.

A well-informed and patient photographer was sent to join us one summer evening practice when we tried hard to be photogenic while ringing bells.

The article was published in the December edition with some lovely photos.

Here you see some of the Lillington ringers gathered around our budding journalist.

Lillington Ringers

Well done, Jane; excellent PR!