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Bell Restoration Project

Lifting Beams

The first practical task in the project was to install two lifting beams above the bells in the belfry; these would be used to take the weight of the bells when they were lowered down the tower.

The wood had been delivered and stored in the ringing chamber; the day had been set and Simon Adams from John Taylor & Co, supported by Kevan and Owen Borlase were ready to go.

The day assigned for getting the beams in place was cold and blustery but to minimise mess in the church, the crew were content to dangle the beams out through the West Door and cut to final length in the drizzle.

The two trap doors between the bell chamber and the ringing chamber floor were opened, a pulley was set on the bell frame and two ends of the rope were dropped to the ringing chamber. The first beam was tied and hauled up through the open traps. It was manoeuvred over the top of the bells and slipped into the slots left by a previous bellhanger.

Well, of course, it wasn’t quite that easy, once in the bell chamber there had to be some further adjustments to the lengths of the beams and a little gentle persuasion to encourage them to slip over the rough granite surface and fit into the slots. Brackets also had to be installed to support the beams where there were no existing slots.

And so it continued for the rest of a very long day.

Eventually all six lengths of timber had been used; four were at the top of the tower, arranged in pairs to form two massive beams; the remaining two had been halved to provide cross pieces and other supports.

In due course the beams would be used to support block and tackle arrangements which would lift the bells out of their pits and lower them through the hatches to the floor of the ringing chamber.