New Ringing Chamber nears completion

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This picture, taken on Wednesday October 31st, is our first published view of the new  ringing floor.  To give you an idea of the height of the floor you may remember that the window cill, at the back of the room, used to be twelve feet above floor level.  When this photo was taken, there was still some stonework to be done on the cill and, as you can see, the glass screen and glass balustrades had just been delivered and were about to be fitted.  The coils of wire at the end of the room are for a CCTV monitor and for two heaters.  The belfry camera will allow us to see what the bells are doing when we pull the ropes – a useful learning aid for new ringers.   The heaters will keep us warm while practicing in the winter.  Eventually, we will lay a carpet on the floor.

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Access to the new floor is via a spiral staircase which our contractor, Fieldhouse Builders, installed last month.  We very much appreciate the dedication that Paul Dowding and his team have brought to this contract.  The glass was fitted last week by the fabricators, Ion Glass, from Sussex.  Their team leader Daniel is pictured here discussing the arrangement of the panels with our conservation architect, Ruth Nicholls.

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The height of the new floor becomes apparent in this shot of the new balustrade in place.  When the builder’s screen is removed the gallery will be a brilliant place to admire the whole church.

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The last job that Ion Glass carried out was the attachment of the dedication on the glass screen, celebrating 1000 years since Newnham was first given its own priest, making it a parish in its own right.

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In the belfry above, work has been progressing to prepare for the return of the bells.  In September, volunteers Bruce Leigh and David Hill helped Nicholson’s bellhanger, Chris Cozens, to remove the floorboards in the bell chamber, (below, top right).  This was in order to expose the steel beams which support the bells and their frame. 

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Later in September, we made repairs to some damaged stone louvres in the belfry and installed much needed new lighting.  Our thanks to stonemason, Shaun McKenzie, (pictured) and electrician, Shawn Comiskey.

In October David Hill returned to help bellhanger, Ian Hasman, wire brush the beams and prime them with a rustproofing compound.  When the primer was dry, volunteers, Jeremy Reader and Mark Ward applied two coats of grey enamel to complete the preparation of the beams, (bottom right). 

In the next few weeks, Ian Hasman will return to install four Galebreaker screens behind the stone louvres to stop the rain getting in.  And with the help of volunteers he will also fix cross trimmers to the four steel beams in preparation for the return of the bell frame.

Sadly the return of the frame and bells has had to be delayed until to January 7th.  Nicholson Engineering, our bell contractors, find themselves running behind schedule due to a previous commitment taking longer than expected.   The frame has been sandblasted and recoated and all the hammers and transmission cranks for the carillon are ready.  But there isn’t yet space in the Bridport workshop for Nicholson’s to assemble all our bells in their frame in order to adjust the hammer platforms and to carry out stability tests.  Our new target date to have the bells ringing and all the chimes working again is now around the middle of February 2019.

Andrew Nicholson tells us that the tuning of the bells went exceptionally well and he thinks they will form a very musical peal.  We are looking forward to hearing them!  You may like to know that the diameters and weights after tuning are as follows.

Bell Diameter Weight Note Source
Tenor 39 1/8” 11-0-3 G New bell
Seventh 34 13/16” 7-2-1 A Old fifth
Sixth 32 13/16” 6-2-8 ½ B Old fourth
Fifth 30 3/16” 5-1-1 ½ C Old third
Fourth 28 5/8” 4-3-17 D Old second
Third 27 1/16” 4-3-1 E Old treble
Second 26” 4-0-22 F# New bell
Treble 25 1/16” 3-3-21 ½ G New bell

Photo credits: Cozmic Dave (http://www.cozmicdave.com) except the last two small photos which were taken by Andy Vivian.

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About newnhambells

I am Chair of the Newnham Bells Restoration Group, which is launching an appeal to guarantee the future of bell ringing in this village, which is rich in history, beauty and tradition.
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