Towers and Belfries Committee Report 2018
The Towers and Belfries continues its work with the body of people who give up their time and make their skills available to undertake maintenance and other minor work on bells within the Guild. The major purpose of this group is for the small jobs that do not require the specialised equipment or skills of the bell founders.
Most Guild members will be aware of the funding that has become available for inspection/minor maintenance of bells by the specialist bell hanging companies through the large legacy that now contributes to the BRF income. There had to be criteria for the first tranche of towers made offers and the piloting of this scheme which seems to have been well received. Its scope may be increased over the coming year. This will no doubt generate some more minor work for the committee or providing cost saving assistance to the founders if they are contracted for more significant undertakings.
Work has been undertaken at Snitterfield with further work possible. Assistance was given to Taylors with work at Stockton. This has seen the return of a ring of three as being ringable and generated interest locally in having their own band to ring them more regularly. More excitingly there is a good possibility of augmentation to 4 using a redundant bell.
When enquiries come from towers without their own ringers, often initial interpretation of what the churchwarden is asking about is more complex than the work to be undertaken. This was the case at Hatton where work to enable their contractor to replace the floor below the bells was required. This was done at no cost to the parish and as such always helps maintain a good relationship with Church.
Several towers continue to benefit from the regular minor maintenance of their bells by members of the committee who are local to the area. This is especially valuable where it ensures places with no regular band to be made easily available for other Guild activities. As part of the services the committee can now offer, is the making of stays. This will be about the correct size but still require final work to get the right fit. It will still be necessary to undertake the skilled problems of making and fitting Hastings type stays from plain wood blanks.
Regular liaison continues with Keith Chambers who is the Diocesan Bell Advisor. He does much to ensure that faculty applications for major work when they reach that stage, have already addressed the issues with which the DAC is concerned, considerably smoothing the path through this process. At St Nicholas, Radford in Coventry we continue to await a date when the bells can be removed, one of which is planned to be a replacement for another poor toned bell in an existing ring in the Diocese .
Finally there is the reminder that Health and Safety has to be the prime concern whenever working on or among bells and their fittings. The need for such vigilance was highlighted by what could have been a very serious incident (but fortunately was not) during the year. A cautionary note was sent out to all towers and also acted to ensure all our committee members continued to use and encourage best Health and Safety practices.
Tower and Belfry Committee Chair