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Refurbishment of the Bells at St Alban's

12th February 2022 @ 6:06am – by St Alban's Parish News
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The Community of Tattenhall has the great fortune to have a church that holds the oldest dated bells in Cheshire. The tower contains six bells, three of which are over 600 years old and the most recent installed in 1904.

Like all Church bells they need to be regularly maintained otherwise they will corrode and crack then will be lost forever.The last time any significant work was carried out, apart from painting and routine maintenance was over 50 years ago.

We have approval for a project to totally refurbish the bells and the work is planned for the second quarter of 2022.We have identified and approved a contractor to carry out the exceptionally demanding and skilled work. The company is based in the West Country and I took the opportunity to visit this factory for the first time during a recent visit to Bath and Exeter.

An incredible visit – certainly for a layman such as myself and this is a brief summary.

The factory is based on a well established set of industrial units on a farm in the depths of Somerset. It is at the two extremes of industrial engineering with heavy engineering combined with fine turning and milling on a gram scale to tune the bells.

A bit of background – did you know that the oldest bell is from five thousand years ago and was made of pottery. This was changed with time to metal and I understand that the composition and ratio of metals are virtually the same today as it was a thousand years ago. When I was there I saw a bell nearly a thousand years old.

The key skilled workers are themselves amongst the leading bell ringers in the country with unbelievably finely tuned ears. They have amazing talent.

Whilst there I saw a half tonne bell mounted on a milling machine with small pieces being ground off then the bell retuned which was determined by ear supplemented with a computerised sound system. This iterative process continues to achieve perfection- incredible. I understand there are at least five tones, the initial strike followed by four resonating nodes.

Once the bells have been tuned they have to be married in to the clapper for size, shape and composition and once this is completed the bells has to be effectively hung. These processes are sciences in themselves.

Once this programme of work is completed the refurbished bells should be operational for 50 to 100 years.

The intention is to leave a secure legacy of bells and bell ringers for future generations.

If you with to contribute to this legacy it can be done as follows:

  • Train to become an adult bell ringer.
  • Train to become part of a planned junior team.
  • Contribute to the cost of the bells refurbishment.
  • Sponsor the project by naming a clapper and this will last for 50 to 100 years.


If you wish to support this project in one or more of the above ways please call or email me.

George Richards
01829 770482
gwrmelius@outlook.com

Article originally in Parish News, reproduced with permission.

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