Keltek Trust and bellfounding

David & Mary Kelly keltek at
Tue Oct 20 13:33:36 BST 2009

Robert Lewis asks an interesting question and one that our trustees do consider important. It is not the intention of the Trust to cause a reduction in the number of new bells cast and certainly for our first few years of operation we closely monitored the projects to see if there was an impact. My conclusions were the creation of projects that wouldn't otherwise of happened resulted in casting of new bells and that this more than offset the small loss of new bells that could have been cast for some augmentations. 

Our relocation figures are typically 30-40 bells a year and in the unlikely event of all these been "lost" opportunties for casting new bells, it is still only a small percentage of all the new bells cast per year by the bell-founders.

Although I believe this to still be the case I did have a conversation a couple of weeks ago with a Taylor's employee who has recently been made redundant and he did think that our re-location efforts have had an effect. As a consequence of the conversation I looked at our re-location figures again and still believe that we are creating new work.

Dickon Love has made mention of the scheme at St Magnus the Martyr and how it started by considering a redundant ring of bells. The same can be said for St Paul's, Birmingham as originally a ring based on four second-hand bells from Cradley Heath was proposed. However the level of funding was such that the scheme quickly changed to a newly cast ring of ten.

What we have observed are factors that may well be part of the current problem:
1) Raw material costs (tin and copper) increasing by over 400% since the start of the millennium. This has had a major impact on the price of newly cast bells.

2) The Ringing in the Millenium project was fantastic for restoring and augmenting bells and many of the potential projects that failed to get RITM funding have subsequently raised funds and work has been completed in a several year window after the millenium. Has the sudden rush of RITM and subsequent work over a short period caused problems for the trade as new work has now fallen away? Would there have been a higher level of work now if there hadn't been a rush for the millenium?

3) Difficulties experienced by many congregations in raising sufficient money to maintain the status quo of fabric repairs and payment of the parish share (quota). The recession has hit charitable donations as individuals cannot afford to give as much and organisations have less money to donate. I believe PCC's are not so keen to launch major bell-restoration or installation projects as they were a decade or two ago. The number of churches with unringable rings of bells is increasing and although this is potential future work for the bell-hanging & founding trade I suspect the actual number of bell-restorations is falling. 

So a few more factors to consider!

Keltek Trust

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