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Lifting the lifting beams

Lifting beams not quite fitting into the ringing chamber.

The first piece of work to be done in our bell project was installing the lifting beams. Step one involved arranging to be at the church to accept delivery of six huge lengths of timber. That, in itself, was no mean feat; somehow deliveries never seem to arrive when they are expected.

The church continues to function normally despite the bell project, so these vast beams and the fifteen sheets of accompanying floor covering had to be put somewhere “out of the way”. The church isn’t that big but the timber was. The ringing chamber seemed to be the best option but even then the planks projected out into the nave.

The day assigned for getting the beams in place was cold and blustery but to minimise mess in the church, the crew, comprising Owen Borlase, Kevan Borlase and Simon Adams of John Taylor & Co, 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 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 maneuvered 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.

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

The beams in place

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

Thanks to Owen Borlase for the use of his photographs.


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