Bell Restoration Fund
Every project, either large or small, is able to apply for a grant from the Chester DG Bell Restoration Fund. See the Resources page for an application form. If you are undertaking any works and would like to feature on this page, please contact the Guild Bell Restoration Officer.
Grappenhall, St Wilfrid, 8, 11-1-6 in F#
Grappenhall bells are a mixed ring of 8 from around 1700, 1890 and 1899, and in 1997 it was clear that work needed to be done on the installation. In 2013 the PCC gave permission for “The Bell Project” to begin, which will install a modern ring of 10 bells in the tower, with the four oldest bells cast by Henry II Bagley, being hung “dead” above the ring of 10 to conserve them.
It is also planned to move the clock mechanism from the ringing room to the belfry, install sound control, a CCTV system and a simulator.
Grappenhall’s new bells have arrived and were displayed in the church for blessing before being hung.
Grappenhall’s new bells are due to be hung later this month.
Runcorn, All Saints, 8, 15-3-15 in F
The bells of Runcorn, All Saints, were cast in 1851 by Charles and George Mears of Whitechapel, London, and this makes them the second oldest complete ring of 8 in Cheshire. The bells were last overhauled in the 1930s, and are in desperate need of a major overhaul.
The ringers are raising money to have everything removed from the tower, the bells cleaned, turned and tuned, then rehung on the original frame (restored and strengthened) with new fixtures and fittings. This includes the removal of crown staples to allow modern steel headstocks, new self-aligning ball bearings, and an adjusted rope circle to make ropesight much easier in the ringing room.
Crewe, Christ Church, 10, 20-0-0 in E
The bells of Crewe were cast as a peal of 10 by Gillett & Johnston in 1912, and rang out over the town for nearly a century before disaster struck the church and it became structurally unsafe. The church is now demolished, with only the tower, baptistry and parts of two walls remaining, and is in the ownership of Cheshire East council.
Some structural repairs have been made to the tower to strengthen it, and the council are investigating potential future uses for the site. The current ambitions of the South Branch are to get the bells ringing again and eventually rehang them lower in the tower. They are working closely with the council, and are optimistic that a positive, long-term future for these historic bells is on its way.
The bells may be rung for special occasions at the request of the Council, but this is likely to be rare and the bells, though themselves in good condition, are considered unringable until further notice.
A practice for Remembrance has taken place at Crewe; includes video link.
A Viability Report has been commissioned by the Council to investigate the future of the church site.
Chester, St Peter, 6, 9-1-0 in Ab
St Peter’s church in the heart of Chester city centre contains a ring of 6 bells which have not been heard since before the Second World War (at least). All but the 3rd were cast in 1709 by Abraham I Rudhall, with the 3rd cast by John Taylor & Co in 1921.
They are in considerable disrepair and have been declared unringable for decades, however initial investigations are underway to restore these bells to full ringing condition, and the church is discussing various options on how to proceed. This may include a new ringing gallery, as well as sound control and a new frame.
Below are some of the smaller projects taking place in the Guild. Contact the relevant tower for details or to make donations.
Chester Cathedral: replacement of all 13 clappers, including replacing the 11th’s SG clapper with a wooden shafted one. 3 clappers have been replaced so far, with the remaining 10 due to be replaced over the summer.
Chrisleton: refurbishment of all 8 clappers and replacement of all pulleys.
Handley: Refurbishment of wheels, pulleys, clappers, bell bolts and frame.
Hyde: refurbishment of all 8 clappers.
Tarporley: replacement of two “flapper boards” with pulleys.
Tattenhall: replacement of cast-in crown staples and loose gudgeons, with potential for retuning.
Grappenhall, St Wilfrid
Runcorn, All Saints
Crewe, Christ Church
Chester, St Peter