Towers and Belfries Committee Report 2016

At the 2016 AGM, I took over as Chairman of this group. It exists so there is body of people who are keen to ensure that bells within the Guild are kept in good working order and provide advice on all matters tower and bell fittings related. This is achieved largely through the provision of practical assistance. The simple day-to-day maintenance of bell installations can do much to save cash-strapped Parishes from large bills or at least stave off the point at which major fund raising becomes necessary whilst still allowing ringing to take place. With the still uncertain future of one of the major bell founders, it is inevitable that timescales for work will further escalate.

Many simple jobs can be undertaken with local assistance using only the founders and bell hangers for the work that is specialist to themselves. Ringers are far keener to make a regular commitment to a tower if the bells they are ringing are not too hard work or have reputed “peculiar vices” that hinder the teaching/learning process.

During the year members have continued to act as semi-skilled labourers on major jobs to the bell hangers. This can save considerable money for parishes on schemes and in effect make the true size of contribution from the Guild as a grant more generous. If your parish is thinking of undertaking a major scheme do ask those that have already gone down this route about cost effectiveness. With ringers from the parish involved it is an ideal training ground with continuation of this knowledge in the band. Perhaps it can also been seen as a slightly subtle form of quality control!. This has been the case during the year at Allesley, Pillerton Hersey and Priors Marston.

Equally importantly members undertake routine maintenance tasks for towers. This is of especial significance at towers where there is no regular band but ringers have ready access for their use. Continuation of good relationships between the Guild’s ringers and the parish can only bode well for ringing’s general profile.

The Guild continues to be indebted to Keith Chambers for his work as the bell specialist on the Diocesan Advisory Committee. This can mean early warning of schemes at towers, particularly important where there is no existing ringing. He has considerable knowledge of what is acceptable to the DAC and will always ensure that what is in the best interests of practical ringing are incorporated in approved work. Thanks are also due to Graham Nabb for his previous work as chairman and to the continued involvement in the committee.

Although the workload for the committee is not an onerous one, indeed more can be taken on; it is made easier by having more people involved in its work. Many of the members are less agile than they were and we would welcome some younger help to squeeze around the tighter bell frames we encounter. Having experienced people spread across the Guild means a potential expert is not far away and getting advice or work done far more likely to happen.

Andrew Alldrick
TAB Committee Chair