BRF Report for 2011

Report for the year ending 31 December 2011 (adopted at AGM May 2012).

The start of 2011 saw many churches hit with a double whammy from the government. Not only was the VAT exemption for repairs to existing ecclesiastical property removed, but VAT was increased from 17½% to 20%. This meant that the BRF now had to look at the whole cost of any project including the VAT, and how it would affect any grant that was made to a church. Depending on the work that is to be undertaken, a typical grant would have been around the 20%. Under the new system, this figure would only just cover the VAT, and therefore it was considered that the BRF should increase its grant level to about 25%.

The middle of February saw work commence at St. Mary, Goring by Sea. Here, all the bells were lifted, and the bearings removed for cleaning and re-packing with fresh grease. All the pulley blocks were replaced for new, with cast nylon pulleys running on sealed ball bearings. With regard to the clappers, all the shafts were annealed and all the bushes were replaced. Nicholson Engineering undertook the work, and completed the task on April 1st, just in time for ringing on Mothering Sunday. The BRF gave a grant of £1,300 to the PCC to help with the cost of this work.

The week before Goring was completed Nicholson Engineering commenced work on a far larger project at St. Mary and St. Gabriel, South Harting. Without the use of an electric hoist the 6 bells, complete with all fittings, were removed in 3 days, leaving only the frame in the tower. The bells were away for longer than expected, but returned in July resplendent with new, brightly painted red fabricated steel headstocks with new bearings. In fact everything in the bell chamber except for the bells and frame was replaced. The positioning of the pulleys was altered slightly to give a continuous rope fall down through the clock room, allowing the final position of the tenor rope to be better placed. Upon completion, the BRF gave their promised grant of £7,000, and in the middle of August a quarter peal of a previously un-named method was rung and named “South Harting Surprise Minor”.

Many of the old parts from the South Harting project have since been taken to the Weald and Downland Museum at Singleton, where they have joined the ex Stoughton frame. Other items have been retained at the church as “Museum” pieces.

Another project was started in the Western Division in September; that of a complete overhaul of the bells and fittings at St. Luke, Milland. Whites of Appleton were the contractors, and as at Harting, everything except the frame had to be removed from the bell chamber. Whilst the bells are out, they will be transported to Whitechapel Bell Foundry to be tuned, before being returned to Whites’ workshops to be fitted with new fabricated steel headstocks and new bearings. In view of this additional work, the bells are not expected to be returned until January or February 2012, and a promise of a £7,500 grant has been made to the PCC.

During the year the BRF committee has also considered an application from St. Peter, Twineham. A grant offer of £10,000 has been made against the complete rehanging of the 5 bells as per Whitechapel Bell Foundry’s quote. This would be to include new steel headstocks with new bearings and all new running gear, as well as drilling out the old cast-in crown staples. Here, there is considerable movement in the frame, and therefore the overall cost will be greater than that incurred at Harting, as a method of bracing the frame will have to be considered.

From the amounts shown above that the BRF has both given and promised it is obvious that there is always a need for further funds, we are therefore always grateful for any monies that can be donated.

Graham Hills

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