Report for the year ending 31 December 2015 (adopted at AGM May 2016).
The past year has seen the completion of a number of projects supported by the Bell Restoration Fund including two that have been in the pipeline for a little while.
Firstly, early in the year the eight bells at St Nicholas’ church in Arundel had their bearings, clappers and pulleys replaced. Whitechapel Bell Foundry were contracted to carry out the work and fund raising was masterminded by Teresa Kendall, who subsequently moved to Devon. When the work was being carried out one of the gudgeons on the fourth bell was found to be lose so this was rectified. Whilst the work was being undertaken the bell chamber was cleaned and the frame repainted by local labour. This alone saved the parish over £7,000; a grant of £3,500 was given to assist with the work.
During the autumn the other project at Westham, that has been under consideration for a number of years, was commenced. Here the bells were rehung with all new fittings, in addition the metal bell frame was dismantled. This allowed for some parts, that had become badly corroded, to be replaced. The complete frame was then rebuilt and the bells were ringing again in time for Christmas. A grant of £6,500 was paid to this project. A large amount of money was saved by the provision of local voluntary help.
The Fund has also supported a number of other projects. At Duncton the fittings for the single bell, one of the oldest dated bells in the country, were renewed to allow the bell to be swung chimed again, with a grant of £1,200 being paid towards the cost.
As this work was being finished the eight bells at Hailsham were being worked on. Nicholson Engineering overhauled the clappers, replaced some of the pulley blocks and re-greased the bearings. A grant of £3,500 was given towards this project; again the local ringers assisted the professionals.
A small grant of £65 was awarded to St Martin’s church in Brighton towards work on the chiming mechanism of their bell.
Lastly, the four bells at St John the Evangelist church in Upper St Leonards received some maintenance work and were equipped for trigger action chiming. These bells which were cast in France and are very heavily ornamented, so after being cleaned they looking especially fine. A grant of £1,500 was paid towards this project.
As can be seen above, 2015 has been a year for the BRF when a large sum of money has been paid in donations, and so it is now time to consider major fund raising if we are to continue to offer grants of a meaningful amount. Finally I would like to thank all members of the Bell Restoration Fund Committee and those who have assisted in the various projects completed during the year. Particular thanks must be recorded to Geoff Rix, who is shortly moving out of the county, for the many years of service he has given, not only to our Fund but in his role advising the Diocese of Chichester in matters concerning their bells.