Bell Restoration Project
Lowering the bells
The bell hangers from John Taylor & Co arrived shortly after lunch on Monday 18th March. This was their first visit to Calstock so a quick inspection of the bells was needed and then they were ready to start.
Although it is not obvious from below there are hatches in the floor of the clock room and the bell chamber. These are just large enough for the tenor bell to pass through. So, the first task of the bell hanging team was to open these hatches.
Using a block and tackle the tenor and the number 2 bells were lifted off the bell frame and sat above bells 4 and 5 on the west side of the frame. This gave enough space for the metal cross pieces to be removed from the frame and the top hatch to be opened. Opening the trap in the floor of the clock room just involved removing a few screws and lifting the floor boards.
The next day work began on lowering the bells out of the belfry. One by one they were carefully passed through the hatch into the clock room; they were then repositioned so that they aligned with the second hatch and lowered through the floor into the ringing chamber. At this stage the bells also had to be manoeuvered from below using a rope girdle to ensure they passed between the nave arch and the rope guide. Finally they were placed carefully onto pallets and taken into the main body of the church. By the end of the day all six bells were on the floor of the church.
Once all the bells were down attention was switched to the accessories - wheels, clappers, pulley boxes and so forth. By the end of the third day everything was out of the tower and we were ready to welcome visitors to the church to see the display. The team had earned a well deserved rest.