[Bell Historians] Downhead

matthewhigby at dXX0oEHgqy9gSXTwSG2WoYEstbWarzOqv_O2xDvFzrVXgi8O86CrjFfPRdt7GuQXIT3Olzm5sV6YZFOT4Ng.yahoo.invalid matthewhigby at dXX0oEHgqy9gSXTwSG2WoYEstbWarzOqv_O2xDvFzrVXgi8O86CrjFfPRdt7GuQXIT3Olzm5sV6YZFOT4Ng.yahoo.invalid
Tue May 15 17:17:36 BST 2007

In a message dated 15/05/2007 16:40:50 GMT Standard Time,  
philip_denton at eet-ATtrat3grQI2BA85LQnUVQi9JXLiUDnuUXZzcg76C_z5sffE6Ree-8VYTpvGsotQHQnNHZ-OtDMyvILR.yahoo.invalid writes:

The  schedule for last week's Somerset open day stated that the 3 at Downhead 
were  hung for full circle ringing for the first time at the recent 
restoration. How  were they hung before, and how long had they been derelict? It seemed 
to me to  be a very successful restoration, creating a good little  ring.

Thanks for your comments.
The 3 at Downhead have been hung for ringing since they were first  
installed. The bellframe was replaced early in the 20th century and the bells  were 
rehung on their original fittings. It seems that the fittings were in poor  
condition at this point, so the bells were adapted for clocking. The tenor bell  
became cracked as a result & the whole installation fell into a derelict  state. 
When I first looked at the bells about 18 years ago, the supporting  ironwork 
was dangerous to the point that 2 of the bells could have fallen. I  lashed 
the bells to their headstocks with blue poly rope. The situation remained  the 
same until we took the bells out last year.
The local aggregate levy gave a grant of £5k to restore the bells. Several  
options were discussed and we settled on a scheme to repair the tenor and hang  
the bells for swing chiming. I then remembered about three good wheels which 
had  come from Whitmore, Staffs (These were replaced when we augmented 
Whitmore to  six). These were the perfect sizes for Downhead, so we managed to draw 
up a  scheme to strengthen (tie-bolt) the frame and hang the bells for ringing, 
using  the Whitmore wheels and various other second hand fittings (The 
wrought iron  clappers came from Whitmore, Maperton & Sittingbourne from memory). We 
made  new timber headstocks and bought some cheap ball bearings off ebay. The 
tenor  was weld repaired and the cast in crown staples removed from all three 
bells.  The whole installation work was completed in a day - we made up three 
ropes out  of some old bits (we managed to fing 3 matching sallies from 
Lyminge, Kent).  All of this enabled this unique William Bilbie ring to be heard 
again,  for the first time in at least 80 years. A local band is currently being 
 trained. Sadly a proposed augmentation scheme has been declined for now, 
despite  one of the bells being offered as a donation. 
I think that just about covers it all. A picture of the rehung 3 is  attached.
Matthew Higby & Company Ltd,
Church Bell  Engineers,
Jasmine Cottage,
The Street,
BA3  4HN.


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