Ringing out in celebration - Bradford Cathedral’s £80k award for bells

Bradford Cathedral bellsBradford Cathedral has received nearly £80,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting project to share the heritage of its First World War memorial bells.

Thanks to the £79,100 award, work will start later this month to repair and restore the peal of ten First World War memorial bells and improve accessibility to the bell tower so that the bells can be heard ringing across the city again.

In addition, an exhibition will be developed, volunteer bell ringers will be trained, volunteers will be recruited and trained as guides and welcomers, and booklets will be produced on the heritage of the bells and the stories behind the names on the bells.

Bradford Cathedral is the oldest building in Bradford and the only medieval building in the city centre. The bell tower was finished in 1508 and the first bells were hung in 1666. These have been recast and added to over the years and the ten bells hung in the tower in 1921 were a First World War memorial. Inscribed on the bells are poignant messages: from families recording a young man lost in war, from Sunday School teachers in gratitude for freedom won, from the Mothers of Bradford recording their love and gratitude to the men who paid the supreme sacrifice.

The project will start later this month and will run until March 2019. It will focus on story-telling and interactive experiences to interpret the heritage of the First World War memorial bells through two themes: the people of Bradford to whom the bells were dedicated and the long tradition of change ringing in the city. This will be underpinned by a varied programme of activities including a 1920s themed community launch event, open days where visitors can meet current and past bell ringers and try their hand at change ringing and a range of hands-on activities for children and families. School groups will be welcomed. There will be plenty of opportunities for volunteers to get involved: from learning to ring the Cathedral bells, to running guided tours, to welcoming visitors.

Welcoming the award, the Very Revd Jerry Lepine, Dean of Bradford, said: “I am delighted that the National Lottery has given us funds to make this project possible. The Cathedral bells are another piece of the essential heritage jigsaw in the City and we hope that many more people will get to appreciate the sound of them and have the opportunity to visit Bradford Cathedral.”

David Renwick, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund, Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “Bradford Cathedral is a fantastic building with a long and varied history. Not only will the project repair the historic memorial bells ensuring they can ring out across to the City but it will open up the Cathedral’s First World War stories, all thanks to National Lottery players.”