The bells are back

Photo 3 A bell being pulled up the church path

 Jock Morris, Jack Hunt, Jeremy Reader and Chris Cozens

We are delighted to report that the bells are back in the tower.  There is still plenty of work to be done before they can be rung, but the last bell, the big number 8, went up this morning – Friday 31st May.

The bells and frame have been restored over the winter and a team of a dozen volunteers is now helping bellhangers, Nicholson Engineering, to put them back in place. Continue reading

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Critical test for our repaired bell frame

Overall view of bells in frame on works floor

One of the reasons that our bells used to be so difficult to ring is that the frame, on which the hung, rocked.  This had the effect of damping the free swing of the bells so that the bell ringers had to work harder to keep the bells in motion. Continue reading

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The best laid plans….

The Newnham Bells Restoration Project has been delayed.  The set-back is due to an issue with the sub-frame, (below)

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Photo showing 3 of the 4 steel beams which make up the sub-frame – looking north

Here’s the background…

For 115 years the bell frame has sat on the floor of the belfry which in turn was held up by a sub-frame of four steel beams going east to west across the tower. Over the years the floor became rotten which allowed the frame to rock. So Andrew Nicholson, our contractor, proposed that in future the frame should sit directly on the four steel beams and the floor should be re-laid on the lower flanges of the beams, (as in the photo above).  Everyone agreed this is a good idea, including our structural engineers, Ward Cole Limited.

But it hasn’t quite worked out as anticipated… Continue reading

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Our trip to the bellhanger’s workshop & more news on the project schedule

some of our eight bells, the tenor on the hoist

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

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Final phase begins

installing combined bird and gale screen

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

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First stage of the project is completed

2. St Peter's Newnham - general view of the new works.

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

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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.  Continue reading

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