[Bell Historians] Yesterday's CCC conference

George Dawson George at d...
Wed Nov 5 10:23:06 GMT 2003

Firstly can I make it clear that the 'Lists of Bells for Preservation ..'
have always been CCC documents sent out to the Dioceses for advice &
guidance. They evolved from the first HBWalters Lists and in many cases the
local DAC Bells Advisors were consulted (I know I was). There has never been
a ' clear the decks, sit down & decide what we really want on these Lists'
session. The draft Criteria that Mary talked to on Tuesday are the first
stage in that process. Alan Hughes comment about a 4-fold increase in the
size of them is not what its all about. Is should be about getting important
bells/installations where they should be. Some of the original lists had
bells on them that HBW knew existed (because they been through the
Foundries, and as a consequence lost their canons), and had little of merit.
I know when I wanted some bells removed from the Southwell List because they
were of little merit, I met with great resistance because 'HBW put it on for
a good reason'. I hope those times have gone!
In due course the CCC will debate internally these criteria and hopefully
they will then be passed out for comment etc by interested bodies (including
the trade).

One thing that this shows is that a National Bell Register is desperately
needed, and ways of organising (& funding) this need to be explored. The
CCCBR have made it clear they don't want to be involved in it, it needs some
group to own it, hopefully the CCC will look into possibilities.

George Dawson (speaking as George Dawson, private individual!)

Subject: [Bell Historians] Yesterday's CCC conference

I sent this out under the wrong heading...this is my feedback and
observation on a depressing day:

Yesterday, as a new and naïve DAC advisor, I went to a Council for the
Care of Churches (CCC) seminar on the conservation of old bells and bell
frames. It was well attended by DAC advisors, worried suppliers,
unworldly conservationists and a sensible diocesan chancellor. We had a
good talk on bell tuning from Whitechapel and on welding bells by
Soundweld. Another speaker told us that bells are a "paradigm of the
relationship between man and God" (and should be left untuned). That
whizzed over my head like Concorde. I learnt about CCC's "strategic
mission for conservation". I'm struggling with the bureaucracy,
administration and impracticality of it all. The same speaker told us
that only ringers care about bell tuning and the quality of sound.
Nobody, especially the public for whom we ring, would notice or care.
This bizarre notion was firmly dealt with from the floor.

I travelled home depressed and having slept on it all I feel worse
still. What worried me the most was the CCC's plan to extend the listing
of "historic 'whatever'" to more bells and now to bellframes. It looked
as if the new list would cover nearly every ring in a church tower. So
be worried and be concerned. When this list becomes "the law", it will
make future restoration, repair, improvement, augmentation, tuning,
moving bells harder and maybe impossible. When asked about how this list
would be made, by whom and with what criteria; bureaucratic secrecy was
protected by bluster and obfuscation.

The old list of what should be conserved was published after much
disagreement. The conservation lobby is more conservative and very
powerful. Every DAC advisor, supplier and ringer I know would broadly
agree about sensible conservation and a consultative approach to bell
work. The CCC and maybe English Heritage are disconnected from the rest
of this group. In a hundred years' time our successors will look back on
this time and wonder why a dynamic and living part of English church
life went backwards. There was little respect for our ringing community,
we are just a nuisance, wanting to use things which others think should
be frozen in time.

It left me speechless, Why are we letting this happen? By arguing
amongst ourselves and not constructively challenging the CCC and English
Heritage. We have a lot to do and let's do it quickly.

Mark Regan

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