Report for the year ending 31 December 2013 (adopted at AGM May 2014).
2013 has been a very quiet year for the Bell Restoration Fund committee compared with 2012.
At our meeting in April, applications for grants from St. Mary, Balcombe and St. Mary, Warbleton were discussed. In both cases, the projects are to overhaul or replace the majority of the running gear, including bearings, clappers, pulley blocks, sliders and runner boards. In the case of Balcombe Church, a grant of £3,000 has been offered to the PCC, and it was hoped that the work would be able to start in November. Unfortunately, Whitechapel Bell Foundry was unable to commit to this, and this work is now due to start in January 2014.
At Warbleton Church, the work would also include fitting new gudgeons to the headstocks. This is a far larger project, and the committee decided to offer a grant of £5,000 to the PCC.
The small church at St. Peter, Woolavington, south of Petworth in West Sussex, is redundant, but for several years it has been used as the Chapel for Seaford College. It has a single bell hanging in a bell cote right above the church door, and when Nicholson Engineering carried out inspection, the iron straps holding it in place were in such a poor condition, that the bell was removed there and then. The bell was rehung on a stainless steel deadstock, and an electronically controlled chiming apparatus was fitted, which also had the benefit of permitting an hourly chime.
The bell was dedicated by the Bishop of Chichester, the Rt. Rev. Dr. Martin Warner in a Choral Evensong Service in May. Geoff Rix, Val Burgess and myself, from the BRF committee were there and presented the Fund’s cheque for £700 to the Headmaster after the service.
Unfortunately the proposed project at St. Peter, Twineham was so large and expensive, it never really got off the ground, and during the year our grant offer lapsed.
Just before Christmas 2011, the 6th bell at St. Mary, Pulborough cracked. The job of melting it down and re-casting was undertaken by Taylor’s Bell Foundry at Loughborough, and was back and being rung in Pulborough tower in July 2012. The BRF committee gave a grant of £3,000 towards the repair cost, but at the same time suggested that enquiries should be made about the church’s insurance. At first, and what seemed almost inevitable, the insurance company said “this was not covered by the insurance”. However, persistence paid off, and after taking their case to the Insurance Ombudsman, the case was proved, and the insurance company paid out. I am now pleased to say that Pulborough PCC have repaid our grant.
Many ringers across Sussex will remember the late Charles Shepherd who died earlier in the year, and I am pleased to report that in his will, he left £1,000 to the Bell Restoration Fund, “To be used at the discretion of the fund committee”.