St Mary’s New Bells

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The Trustees and Ringers

 
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The Three Greenock Bells

 
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The Charity Auction

 
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The Ringers

 
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Casting at Loughborough

 
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Dedication of the Bells

 
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Installation in the Belfry

 
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Installation in the Belfry

 
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Ringing the New Bells

 
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The Ringers

It had become more and more obvious that the steel bells needed replacing. Traditionally, bells have always been cast using a copper and tin mix known as bell-metal. Casting in steel was a short lived Victorian experiment, creating bells that were of inferior tone and the inevitable rusting causing even more problems with tuning and tone. Of the twenty or so complete rings of steel bells, most have since been replaced with traditional bells. When St Mary’s bells were restored in 1991, it was only envisaged they would last for about three years.

Not only were the bells substandard, but since 1991 the fittings had deteriorated to a state well beyond repair, making the bells very difficult for ringers to handle, or for new ringers to be taught. In 2008, during ringing, the tenor bell (the heaviest) fell from its frame and landed on the floor of the bell chamber!

The ringers in consultation with the PCC decided that the time had to come to replace the steel bells with traditional bells. The PCC agreed that a separate charity be set up to further this aim.

A New Voice for St Mary’s

On 31 March 2009 the newly formed St Mary’s Bells Installation Fund Charity met for the first time, its aim to raise sufficient funds to dismantle the old wooden frame, dispose of the old bells and install a new frame and 10 bells. Those present were the five Trustees: Sharon Wall(Chair), Rob Slater (Secretary), John Fielden (Treasurer), Richard Grimmett, Charles Wall, Ian Bryan (Tower Captain) and Revd. Jeremy Dussek (Vicar and Patron).

The project would be called “A New Voice for St Mary’s”.

The project

A New Voice for St Mary’s was launched on July 12 2009 with a presentation to members of the church and interested parties. Meanwhile the Trustees had set up a web site (www.grimmett.org/moseley), produced a funding raising brochure and created a specially designed headed notepaper.

Three bells, cast by Gillett and Johnson, from a redundant church in Greenock had become available through the Keltek Trust and with the help of an anonymous benefactor these bells were bought. They would form the 8, 9 and tenor of the new ring.

Fund raising

The Trustees decided that it need to raise at least £140,000 to enable the project to succeed and set about approaching various charities and funders who may give to our charity.

The following charities made contributions:

  • The Sharpe Trust
  • Grimmitt Trust
  • Edward Cadbury Charitable Trust
  • G J W Turner Trust
  • Limoge Charitable Trust
  • The Ratcliff Foundation
  • Allchurches Trust Ltd
  • The Rowlands Trust

Donations were received from:

  • Rotary
  • Moseley and Kings Heath Community Chest
  • Moseley Farmers’ Market
  • Central Council of Church Bell Ringers
  • St.Martin’s Guild of Church Bell Ringers
  • Margaret Piggott bequest

The Fund received generous donations from many individuals, money was raised at two Quiz Evenings and a Charity Auction raised a substantial amount of money. The Trustees were very grateful to Reuben Colley Fine Arts (Tim Ison) for providing paintings by Reuben Colley and Rick Garland for auction.

The following people bought bells:

  • Hilary and Roger Bloxsom
  • Gill and John Fielden
  • Sharon and Charles Wall
  • Sarah Black and Ian Bryan
  • Heidi and Rob Slater

In July 2011 the PCC made a substantial contribution to the Fund and this enabled the Trustees to move on with confidence to the next stage of seeking a Faculty and putting the installation out to tender.

Tender and Faculty

Tendering for the work, to dismantle the old ring and install the new ring had taken place in 2010 and the Trustees preferred choice was John Taylor and Co of Loughborough. Taylor and Co are one of two bell foundries in the UK and were the owners of the templates used to make the three Greenock bells, bought by the Trustees in 2009. This would enable them to match the new bells exactly in shape and tuning.

Now that the Trustees were assured that enough money had been raised to finish the project and bell hangers appointed, it was time to apply for a Faculty from the Diocesan Advisory Committee to allow the project to be finished. This was granted in December 2012 and the Trustees subsequently instructed Taylor and Co to proceed with casting the new bells and install the new ring of 10.

Disposing of the old bells

One of the conditions of the Faculty was to find a suitable home for the old steel bells. The Trustees explored many possibilities including their sale to Swan Bells, The Bell Tower, Perth, Australia (swanbells.com.au). However, they finally agreed to sell them to Andy Mead, Knapps Farm, Shepton Mallett, Somerset. BA3 4LA (www.knapps-farm.co.uk) where it is hoped they will be displayed.

Removing the frame and old bells

Before Taylor’s and Co began the removal of the old bells in January 2012 a final quarter peal was rung on 15 January 2012. These bells were then taken to the Taylor Foundry in Loughborough for storage together with the 3 Greenock bells. The oak frame was dismantled and sold to raise funds for the project. From now on and until the installation of the new bells the project would rely on voluntary labour to help the professional bell hangers and reduce costs. The Trustees were very grateful to the many people who gave their services for free.

Casting the new bells

In March and April 2012 the seven new bells were cast in the Taylor and Co Foundry. These events were witnessed by many from the church and the ringing world. When the bells were ready for tuning all 10 bells were taken to the tuning shop and using a computer for accuracy, tuned to the key of F. The new two tier metal frame was being made as were all the new wheels, headstocks, pulleys, slides and stays.

In June the new bells were temporarily returned to St Mary’s from Loughborough for a Thanksgiving and Dedication service led by the Dean of the Cathedral, the Very Revd. Catherine Ogle. This was an opportunity for the church and wider community to see the bells and welcome them to church. Subsequently they were returned to Loughborough to be fitted with headstocks and final preparation.

Installation

In August 2012 Taylor’s returned to St Mary’s to start preparing the tower for the installation of the new frame, creating proper trapdoors and finally hanging the new bells.

A New Voice

This was a great moment and the culmination of a lot of hard work by many people. The On 17 October 2012 the new ring of 10 was rung for the first time. ringing chamber is now open to the church enabling parishioners to watch the ringers at work.

The Trustees are very grateful to all those who have given time and money to make this a very successful project.

Thanks

Taylor’s and Co:

  • Steve Westerman
  • Andrew Ogden
  • Paul Mason
  • Andrew Mills
  • Simon Adams.

Voluntary labour:

  • Paul Kibblewhite
  • Paul Lindley
  • Olly Bouckley
  • Steve Jones
  • Stuart Stanton
  • Roger Bloxsom
  • Simon Adams
  • Jonathan Smith

Details of the new bells

Church of St Mary Moseley 2012

The peal of 10 bells hung with new fittings in a new two tier bell frame. The three largest bells were part of a former chime in Greenock, Scotland.  The seven new bells were cast, profiled and tuned to match these. 

Bell Founder Date Weight
      cwt qrs lbs
Treble John Taylor & Co. of Loughborough 2012 4 1 11
2 John Taylor & Co. of Loughborough 2012 4 2 19
3 John Taylor & Co. of Loughborough 2012 4 2 17
4 John Taylor & Co. of Loughborough 2012 5 0 5
5 John Taylor & Co. of Loughborough 2012 5 2 11
6 John Taylor & Co. of Loughborough 2012 6 0 12
7 John Taylor & Co. of Loughborough 2012 7 1 15
8 Gillett & Johnston of Croydon 1950 9 1 5
9 Gillett & Johnston of Croydon 1950 12 3 26
Tenor Gillett & Johnston of Croydon 1950 18 0 9

The peal is in the key of F (686 Hz)

(Article compiled by Charles Wall)

www.grimmett.org/moseley

Ringing at St.Mary’s

Practice takes place every Monday evening from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m.

Ringing: Sunday 9:15 to 10:00 a.m.

Tower Captain: Frances Dodds

Tower Contact: Sharon Wall – 0121 449 4423 – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Beginners and visitors welcome.