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The bells arrive back in Calstock

It had indeed been a dark and stormy night but the sun rose to reveal a rather grey and drizzly morning with Kit Hill swathed in mist. But the weather was irrelevant; this was the day the bells would return. It was a day when nothing quite went to plan.

Andrew Worth had not got back from Loughborough until midnight, so he wouldn't be able to bring the bells to the church until a little later than expected and Chris Facey had an emergency on the farm which delayed his arrival at the church. Still, not long after ten we were all gathered together and the unloading started.

It was pretty much the reverse of the loading up process - Chris brought the bells out of the lorry on his telehandler, manoeuvred them through the lychgate and over the coffin stone and the team took them up to the church on the pallet truck.

I had started the day with the romantic idea of a photo of all six bells lined up outside the church. That didn't happen. Instead we realised that the bells were on pallets that were too big to fit through the church door. The pallet truck became a kind of portable saw horse and one by one the pallets were raised off the ground to allow a chunk to be cut off the side. All ideas of artistic interpretation went out the window.

Before long we remembered that the tenor bell had only just squeezed through the door on the way out of the church. It would not be sufficient to reduce the size of the pallet around the bell, it needed to be on a far smaller pallet.

Fortunately a spare pallet had been delivered in March when the bells were removed, it had been stashed away behind the west door, so we retrieved this pallet and Chris Facey made the swap. The tenor headstock was carefully wrapped with a couple of Andrew Worth's blankets. The bell was lifted off it's large pallet and lowered onto the smaller spare.

Eventually all the bells were in the church, carefully arranged to allow visitors to see them, a wedding to take place around them and the bell hangers to work systematically through them. The team relaxed with a cup of coffee and posed for the traditional photoshoot.

The team - Chris Facey on the left, Andrew Worth and two of his staff in the middle and Kevan Borlase on the right.

Thanks to everyone else who helped during the day.


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