[Bell Historians] Copy of a letter to the RW re Church bells.

Richard Offen richard.offen at o...
Mon Apr 5 15:56:48 BST 2004

--- In bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com, "Ken Webb" <kenwebb at r...> 
> All
> Any comments?
> Ken
> Sir,
> Time to list the bad as well as the good?
> I think we need to change the focus & look at the total stock of 
> bellfittings & bellframes in churches.
> The mandatory CofE church quinquennial states what is poor & needs 
> now or soon - I suggest paid experts need to produce quinquennials 
> bells, bell fittings & bellframes. I suggest bells & frames are 
> ignored unless the ringers identify a problem - out of sight, out 
of mind?
> The bell trade should be paid to examine & report on bells, 
fittings & frame
> every 5 or 10 years - they are the full-time experts with wide 
experience of
> the good & bad. The report should include details of the 
ringability of the
> bells - so, where the bells are ringable, would include a member of 
> belltrade personally ringing each of the bells with a typical band. 
A copy
> of the report would go to the PCC, local ringers, the DAC, local 
> association etc. The report would include an analysis of the tuning 
& tone
> of the bells, the quality of the casting, the rarity of bells by the
> founder, soundbow wear, clapper suspension safe etc. The report 
> recommend work, including tuning, recasting & rehanging where the 
> installation was less than good. This report would be used to 
> proposed work & grant applications. There would need to be 
consistency of
> judgement & reporting.

This is an extremely laudable idea, but not one, I fear, that would 
be practical. 

I am sure that the foundries and bell hangers would say they simply 
do not have the staff to carry out regular inspections of the type 
you described above. The cost of recruiting, training and 
maintaining a band of 'bell inspectors' (wouldn't mind the job 
myself!), not to mention paying exorbitant indemnity insurance 
premiums for them, would have to be reflected in the fee charged for 
such services. This would, no doubt, run to several hundred pounds 
per inspection.

At present, the diocesan authorities foot the bill for quinquennial 
inspections. Knowing how the church authorities continually plead 
poverty these days, I very much doubt if they would be willing or 
able to foot the bill for such additional specialist advice. 
Speaking as a former churchwarden, I can't think that many parishes 
would be able to afford, or justify, the regular expense of such an 
inspection either.

I know this sounds negative, but we do need a degree of reality 


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