Last Friday, eighteen of us – volunteers, committee members and partners, travelled to Bridport to visit the Nicholson Engineering workshop where our bells and frame are being restored. The boss, Andrew Nicholson raised our tenor bell on a hoist so that it could be struck and we heard for the first time the ‘dong’ that will mark the passing of each hour in Newnham for at least the next century. The reverberation continued for over a minute! Continue reading →
Nicholson Engineering returned to the tower this week, to begin the final phase of their contract – the reinstallation of the bells. This week they have been re-laying the floor, treating the timbers, anchoring the four supporting girders with concrete and installing screens in all four louvred windows in the belfry, (pictured).
On the day of this photograph, professional bellhanger, Ian Hasman, was being assisted by volunteers Bruce Leigh, left, and Joe Knight, right. The screens have a layer of stainless steel mesh to keep out birds and a layer of Galebreaker sheeting – the kind you see in cow sheds – to keep out driven rain during storms. Continue reading →
We are delighted to report that the building work at the back of the nave has now been completed. The builder’s boards came down in time for the big Remembrance Day service on 11th November, which marked the centenary of the Armistice which ended the First World War.
The above photograph, (all photos by Cozmic Dave Photography) shows the new spiral staircase leading to a gallery with a bird’s eye view over the nave. The gallery provides access through a glass door to the new floor in the tower, which is where in future the bell ringers will stand, to ring the bells. Raising the level of the ringers means that the ropes can be shorter which will make ringing easier. Continue reading →
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. Continue reading →
An unforeseen problem with the casting of our new treble (top) bell means we have had to set back the date when we expect the restoration to be complete. Therefore, we have postponed the planned bells rededication service due to take place on Friday November 23rd.
In the casting of any bell there is always a chance that the result is not perfect. The Royal Eijsbouts Foundry near Eindhoven in Holland was tasked with making three replacement bells for us. The casting was carried out at the end of August, and two of the bells – the second and tenor (bottom), came out well. Earlier today, the foundry recast the treble (see photo) and later this week it will be on its way to Bridport, in Dorset, home of Nicholson Engineering, our appointed bell hangers.Continue reading →
We expect to spend up to £155,000 on this project and, astonishingly, a third of this sum has been donated by the residents and friends of Newnham. We think it is amazing that so many care about getting our church bells into proper working order and giving a new generation the chance to learn to ring.
The story so far
The St Peter’s Bells Restoration Project is the biggest undertaking by the church for more than a century. The bells are away being refitted and retuned. Three of them will be replaced by new ones, which are being cast this week. The wobbly bell frame is being cleaned and repaired. If you go into the church you’ll see the most eye-catching part of the project. Continue reading →
July 13th: Transport day. Joe and Ian take the first bell to the lorry on a pallet truck
Joe Knight, St Peter’s new curate, recounts his somewhat unusual introduction to life in Newnham
During my training to become a vicar I had no idea that in my first week I’d be at the top of the tower, wrestling with a giant steel bell frame, helping the team reclaim eight church bells. I knew the role would be varied, but I missed the module on bell restoration! However, I found myself in good company. Apart from Ian, our esteemed professional, our team of volunteers were highly enthusiastic amateurs. We found ourselves together in the dizzying heights of a new world, a world of great complexity, inspiring engineering, and heart-warming knowledge and care. Continue reading →