‘Make do and mend’ was no longer enough to enough to keep the bells ringing.
The oak frame – the all-important structure supporting the bells – was more than 200 years old. It had been weakened over time as new bells were installed; past repairs were gradually failing. There were cracks and woodworm in the wood, and the metal struts which held parts of it together were increasingly worn and bent.
Attached to the oak frame was a smaller metal frame which supported three bells. This was installed about a hundred years ago and was itself in need of renewal.
Above all, the frame was not embedded in the tower walls as would be the case with a modern frame: it simply rested on supporting beams – and it moved when the heaviest bells were ringing at the same time. Too much movement, and four tons of bells could have crashed through the floor.
Two professional surveys confirmed the problem. It was no longer safe to ring the bells.
The frame was not the only issue. Repairs were needed to the fitments which connected the bells to the frame – headstocks, bearings, wheels and so on. The bells themselves were wearing out and were at risk of cracking. One of the weighty clappers regularly (and dangerously) came loose.
The frame and bells were removed from the tower in September/October 2022.