Towers and Belfries Committee Report 2017

The major work that involved members of this committee and its supporters was late in the year when Pillerton Hersey returned for installation as a minor five (the scope of the original scheme having extended since its inception) and now adds to the Guild’s ringing resources. In the middle of the year the new wooden headstock at Priors Marston was installed and ensures that they are again in a fully ringable condition. The thanks received formally from the PCCs etc. on completion of such schemes does indicate that many places genuinely appreciate the help this committee and supporters provide. There are currently no other major schemes in the pipeline. This no doubt indicates the state of finances of many churches.

Support continues to be given by various members to the upkeep of bells by undertaking routine basic maintenance. There are several pockets of good practice spread across the county, but very sparse elsewhere. There appears to be a limited geographical radius around the active members of the committee where advice is sought (or often given unsolicited!). Even if relatively minor work is being undertaken by any of the bell founders/hangers, having someone along to help (even if they think that they are not very skilled) can ease their professional job and give insight into a tower being more self-sufficient for future maintenance. If such help shortens the time taken for the job then the costs can be lowered. This type of approach was successful during the year when the tenor clapper at Stretton-on-Dunsmore was replaced by one of a different design - the resolution of an issue that had been apparent almost since their augmentation.

With Keith Chamber’s involvement on Diocesan Advisory Committee, plenty of notice and advice is given of what parishes may be up to that involve major work. The impact of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry ceasing trading has still to be seen, although they did not get much work from this area for various reasons. Ropes are an area frequently mentioned and feedback on the various suppliers would be welcomed so that others can be better reassured of what sort of quality and service they will receive. Although the workload for the committee is not an onerous one, indeed from the above it is obvious 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 their enthusiasm for work is increasingly tempered by knowing their physical limitations. We would welcome some younger help to squeeze around the tighter bell frames we encounter. Having people spread widely across the county considerably assists having a potential expert not far away and getting advice or work done far more likely to happen.

Andrew Alldrick - Tower and Belfry Committee Chair