CHURCHES with unloved and neglected bells are being invited to a
conference to learn how to return them to their former
John Barnes, from the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers,
said that a dozen churches had already confirmed their attendance
at the Ringing Roadshow, at Newbury racecourse, on Saturday.
The problem of church bells' becoming unringable owing to
neglect was widespread, Mr Barnes said on Tuesday. His own survey
of every church in a 75-mile radius of Newbury showed that there
were 284 churches that had bells that could no longer be rung
But the real problem was a lack of interest, Mr Barnes said. "If
bells become difficult to ring . . . very often ringing dies out.
Out of sight tends to be out of mind, and the eventual situation is
that the bell chamber becomes derelict."
There has been a steady decline in the number of bell-ringing
enthusiasts, Mr Barnes said. "We no longer get boys into ringing
from the choir . . . as we used to. As older ringers died out, some
rings of bells have become neglected."
It can cost up to £70,000 to restore bells to full working
order, and that does not include repairs to bell towers, Mr Barnes
said. But as lottery and heritage grants were available, lack of
knowledge, not money, was the main barrier to getting old bells
His presentation at the Ringing Roadshow will focus on how to
secure grants for bell repairs, as well as launching fund-raising
appeals. Mr Barnes may by contacted by email to
firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone on 01689 853666.