Historic town church bells are clapped out

PUBLISHED: 12:29 23 March 2007 | UPDATED: 22:39 28 May 2010

THEY were hauled up the river in 1802 and rang for Trafalgar, the death of Lord Nelson and the Battle of Waterloo - now two bells at an historic March church are silent. Two of the six bells at St Wendreda s Church cannot be rung until the gudgeons - the

THEY were hauled up the river in 1802 and rang for Trafalgar, the death of Lord Nelson and the Battle of Waterloo - now two bells at an historic March church are silent.

Two of the six bells at St Wendreda's Church cannot be rung until the gudgeons - the fittings securing them to the frame - are replaced at a cost of £2,300.

That cost stands only if two volunteers are available to assist the bell hanger and will increase by a further £900 if the foundry has to provide additional helpers.

The bells, with a total dead weight of almost two-and- threequarter tonnes, were last re-hung in 1929 and the fittings, pulleys and clappers urgently need attention.

Trevor Bevis, a bell ringer for 63 years, said: "To ring the fourth and fifth bells would be dangerous and if they parted company from the frame mountings the resulting damage would be catastrophic and irreparable."

Mr Bevis said the church was already facing heavy financial commitments for fabric repairs, work on the top of the spire, and the building of a church room.

The oldest part of the church dates back to the 13th century and Mr Bevis said: "An old building such as this can be likened to the Forth Bridge. No sooner is it completed it has to started again."

The tower, built about 1350, has to cope with a combined thrust against the walls of at least eight tonnes as the bells turn simultaneously through 360 degrees.

Mr Bevis said: "We have a duty to be responsible and careful. However long it takes we will do all we can to remedy the problem and get the bells into full ringing order again."

Until the money is found for the repairs the bell ringers will continue to ring only four of the bells.

The bells receive an annual service by the internationally famous founders, Taylors Eayre and Smith of Loughborough.

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