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Welcome! Thank you for visiting our site. We have finally started work on our restoration. The bellhanging company, Nicholson Engineering, started work at the beginning of July 2016. Two weeks later, Fieldhouse Builders moved in to start building the new ringing floor in the tower and the stairs and gallery to gain access.
The building work is now finished!
The work on the bells and frame is now focussed on Nicholson’s Bridport works. We expect the bells to be returned in the New Year.
Read more about this and the visit by our local school children to see the bells on the ground in our Blog.
Why are we doing this project
Our bell fittings were damaged and worn, our cast iron bell frame corroded and unstable, the belfry floor rotten. For years the bells have been so difficult to ring that most ringers avoid us and it is impossible to teach newcomers. We have also been advised that our bells are oversized for our slender medieval tower.
The diocese has agreed a faculty to replace the fittings, restore and reseat the frame, repair and relay the floor and replace the heaviest three bells to reduce the weight of the peal by a third. They’ve also agreed that we can install a raised ringing platform to make it easier to control the bells.
But this project isn’t just about restoring our bells. We want our tower to become a place where people enjoy learning the ancient skill of bell ringing. And we won’t just re-establish bell ringing in the village, we aim to get everyone in Newnham coming to learn about our bells and our unusual carillon.
When the work is done, there will be exhibitions, talks, a school curriculum project, an out-of-school Bells Club, a half term Bells Camp, public Open Tower Days, belfry tours, ringing taster sessions, a Ringing Festival, and permanent interpretation panels.
We will invest in educational equipment including bell chamber CCTV and bell simulation software. We will keep an archive. Over 30 volunteers will contribute to the project and new skills will be learned in the process.
The restoration project is likely to cost approximately £150,000.
Thanks to our latest grant from the National Lottery, a brilliant £30,000, we hope we have enough funding to complete the project. We are aiming to train a new group of bell ringers for our restored bells.
Where did the funding come from? Remarkably, around a third has come from Newnham residents and friends of the village through, donations, a bequest, fundraising events and an allocation from church reserves. The rest has come from charitable institutions. The Gloucester and Bristol Diocesan Association of Church Bell Ringers has made available just over £20,000. The Gloucestershire Environmental Trust has contributed £15,000. The Gloucestershire Historic Churches Trust, the Garfield Weston Foundation and the Ironmongers’ Company have each contributed £7,500. And smaller grants have come from several sources including the Allchurches Trust, Old Brightlandsians, Forest of Dean Bell Ringers, the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers the Haberdashers’ Company and Newnham Parish Council.
We aim keep our costs down by providing volunteers to do as much as possible. Six volunteers helped to dismantle the bells and frame ready to be taken to Nicholson’s workshop in Bridport. We have a dozen volunteers ready to help reinstall the bells in the New Year. We are grateful to have local photo whizz, Cozmic Dave, to photograph the project as it develops. We also need volunteers to help with stewarding public events once the restoration is complete. Interested in volunteering? Contact the Appeal Chair, Cam Dickie, 07886829960 or Andy Vivian on 01594 516528 x111.