Bells Restoration Update

 The Church of St Mary the Virgin, Netherbury, Dorset

Following his inspection, the Diocesan Bells Advisor recommended full restoration of the six heavy Netherbury bells, which the PCC unanimously supported agreeing at its meeting on 17th May 2011 to proceed with the project. Initially, three bell-engineering companies provided reports and quotations. With the support of our church architect The Bells Appeal Fund was launched in November of the same year.

The oldest bell in our tower dates from 1610 and our peel of six bells has been rung for over one hundred years since the last full restoration. The good news is that the oak frame constructed by Harry Stokes of Woodbury in 1906 is in good condition, but the bells need full restoration and re-tuning and that means all six bells plus ropes, wheels, pulleys and hammers must be removed from the tower. With the bells and running gear out of the tower cleaning and servicing of the clock and refurbishment of the clock hammers and Ellacombe hammers is also required.

The Bells of St Mary’s – March 2015

Following a recent visit to the John Taylor foundry in Loughborough, I can report good progress with the restoration of our church bells. The two bells that were sent to a welding company specialising in church bells have been successfully plug welded and all six are being prepared for tuning. Meanwhile the moulds for the new cast iron headstocks that will support each bell are ready for pouring. New double roller bearings will allow the restored bells to swing easily with the ropes pulling through new lathe turned hardwood rollers running on sealed ball bearings. I also took the opportunity to view a demonstration of an electronic chiming system that will ensure the hour strike of the tower clock will, in future, be exactly correct taking its signal from the atomic clock in Rugby! Steve Adams, Churchwarden

THE BELLS OF ST MARY’S – February 2015

John Taylor & Co of Loughborough report good progress on the early stages of the restoration. You will remember from the January issue the bells were stripped of their headstocks, weighed measured and cleaned. They were then thoroughly inspected and crack tested and I am relived to report no cracks were found. However the old holes in the top of two bells are being plug welded during which they will be heated to nearly 1,000 degrees C to accept the new metal. Meanwhile back in the tower work continues on the much needed thorough cleaning of the bell chamber and the clock chamber below – any volunteers!  Steve Adams, Churchwarden

The Bells of St Mary Fall Silent – Update November 2014

By the time you read this our church bells should have been removed and be in the safe hands of John Taylor & Co of Loughborough, who will fully restore them after more than one hundred and ten years of faithful service. Many of you will have witnessed the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to watch as the bells were carefully removed from the church tower and gently loaded onto the truck for their onward journey.

We are promised a fine peal of re-tuned bells with new ropes, pulleys, bearings and other fittings which will be easier to ring and do justice to the many people in the village who have generously contributed to the fundraising programme.

With the bells removed you will not hear the reassuring tone of the clock chimes and the hourly strike although the clock will continue to work until it too is scheduled for its full service and adjustment; more on this nearer the time, pardon the pun!

During this time the clock hammers and chiming hammers will also be removed for restoration and fundraising will continue to cover this additional cost. So this is a plea to those who might feel you have missed the opportunity to contribute to our village heritage as fundraising will continue as we seek to raise sufficient money to install a new mechanism worthy of current technology to chime our ancient bells.

With the bells removed from the tower there will be no Christmas ringing, but we hope they will be re-installed and commissioned in time to ring out our Easter celebration. Through the medium of Team News we will continue to keep you updated on progress.

To donate to our Bells Fund or ask any questions about the restoration progress, do please ask or contact me on 488994.

Steve Adams                                                                                                                                        Churchwarden & Treasurer

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