Hanley - some facts

Simon Linford simonhippo at W8GLXXlcjONr-lhOIHE2m9gvRthfaX6R-jmyMbCU8cbnEE4fA2nWXDSSb2kX5Fd_NENJIbL_BPI7_k-s.yahoo.invalid
Fri Oct 16 19:14:16 BST 2009

I can shed some light on this and remove some of the speculation.  I will in due course write an article for the Ringing World about the Hanley bells saga, but a quick reply here first as it is current.
I was at the church with the Conservation Officer yesterday, when she told me they had rejected our application to remove the bells (I am one of the owners).  I haven’t actually read the decision, but she said that although there were plenty of arguments for why the bells should be somewhere else, she had not heard any arguments for why they shouldn’t stay where they are, which is a different thing.  The strength of feeling and the power of the arguments from the local residents and Friends of St Johns, who do not want their war memorial bells to leave their church (and they are quite possessive and vocal), comes across much more strongly and persuasively than the calls of bellringers to have the bells somewhere else (where there is already a ring of bells) so they can be rung again.  The inability to ring the bells in their current location was not a consideration.  
I am sure that if there had been another home found for them within Stoke on Trent, especially a tower without bells already, the arguments would have swayed in favour of moving them because the local opposition would have been lower.  
In terms of safety, the tower has now been cleared of guano (£3,000 worth!) and so is safe in terms of going up the spiral staircase and going into the old ringing chamber.  Floors above are not safe because of the effect of the guano sitting on top of the timbers, and the access into the belfry is a bit dodgy.  A health and safety officer wouldn’t let you go into the belfry but ringers would see it as quite a normal level of risk.
In terms of other fixtures and fittings of value, they all went years ago, and there isn't much in the ringing chamber. 
And finally in terms of the development of the building, the bells were removed from the sale at the last minute and gifted by the Diocese to Stone, subject to listed building consent, which has now been declined.
Simon Linford
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