Bell Restoration Project
It is known that since the bells were cast in 1773 they have been re-hung at least twice: once in 1892 and again in 1952. On the second occasion the wood frame was removed and a steel frame was built to accommodate the bells.
The work was undertaken by Gillett and Johnston of Croydon. The result appeared to be over engineered: the bell frame barely fits into the belfry and the headstock and wheels were over large for the bells.
In the years since the rehang the bells had become increasingly difficult to handle, being heavy to ring, lumpy and often going up wrong.
Calstock bells and bell frame at the Gillett and Johnston foundry, Croydon, 1952
Calstock bell chamber before the re-hang
During April and May 2018 a number of bellhangers were asked to inspect the bells. They all made the same recommendation - the bells needed to be re-hung. This view was confirmed, when a search of archives and memories, revealed that since the early 1960s successive Rectors and Tower Captains had been told, by a variety of experts including RH Dove, that the bells needed to be rehung.
So the decision was made - the bells would be re-hung. Lack of funds had always prevented work in the past, but in 2018 there was a plethora of donors and benefactors willing to support community and heritage projects, it was just a question of persuading them to support ours.
Once we had the PCC, the DAC bell advisor, DAC secretary and Historic England on board with the scheme, we went straight into applying for Faculty, raising awareness in the community and fundraising all simultaneously.
Whilst the PCC were prepared to support the project they were not otherwise involved, the whole project was run by the bell ringers.
Calstock tenor with it's 1952 Gillett and Johnston headstock
Calstock bells in the belfry. From left to right: treble through to tenor.