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