Bells on the road to restoration

Bells beginning to be lowered into the church

The ten bells of St Mary’s Church, Mirfield, have finally been lowered and taken to Taylor’s of Loughborough where six of them will be melted down and recast and the biggest four will be re-tuned as part of the final stage in the Tower’s restoration.

Meanwhile, in another fundraising boost, the Revd Hugh Baker, Vicar of Mirfield Team Parish, raised £1,500 for the church’s Tower Project after completing the Great North Run on Sunday 13th September.

Hugh ran the 13.1 mile long race in 2 hours 58 minutes, ‘a mere 2 hours slower than Mo Farrar!’ said Chris Breare from Mirfield Team Parish.

The Revd Hugh Baker, Vicar of St Mary’s, said, "Three years of planning and fundraising is now nearly coming to an end with a huge 'Thank You' to everyone who has given their support in one way or another.Revd Hugh Baker and Barry Firth with one of the weather vanes

"We anticipate the new bells will ring out on Easter Day 2016 calling the people of Mirfield to worship and to celebrate weddings and other joyful occasions at St Mary's for another 140 years."

The main structural work on St Mary's Tower was complete, with all four of the Tower’s pinnacles topped with weather vanes by Revd Hugh Baker and Barry Firth (Maysand’s site manager) and the scaffolding was removed before the bells were lowered into the body of the church.

Bells being wheeled out of the church to get to the lorrey

In the initial stages of the Tower Restoration a new lifting beam was put in place through the Tower louvers to facilitate  the process of lowering and raising the bells  and it took three days for the bells to be lowered through the three floors of the tower, requiring careful manoeuvring as the exit holes weren’t completely aligned.

Employees from Taylors of Loughborough, the bell foundry, helped by the Revd Hugh Baker, Bell Captain Ian Ackroyd and members of the ringing team lowered the bells, the heaviest being 1.5 tonnes and all had to be manoeuvred carefully to avoid hitting the font in the church!

One of the bells being lifted onto the lorrey

The door of the church (and its frame) had to be removed on Friday so that the largest bell could fit through the exit as it was wheeled and hoisted onto the lorry before being taken to the foundry.

A coach trip will soon be organised by the church to allow members of the congregation to view the various processes in which six of the bells will be recast and the largest four will be re-tuned.

It became obvious that the church needed work after large chunks of masonry began falling at random from the Tower.

Revd Hugh Baker with the new clock faceAfter 144 years, the Mirfield bells were rung for the final time on Easter Day 2015 by the Yorkshire Association of Change Ringers who recorded the performance so a comparison can be made with the new bells in place.

Mirfield Town Council helped to provide St Mary’s with financial assistance by giving a grant to re-gild the face of the church clock, saving costs in the long run as the expensive scaffolding will not have to be paid for a second time.

The Tower restoration was also partly funded by a grant of £181,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £10,000 from the National Churches Trust.

The bell ringers also raised £80,000 for the restoration of the bells by running Saturday cafés and other events and the family of the late John Crossland donated £10,000 to recast one of the bells, hoping to name it Uncle John.

 

For more information on the Tower's restoration, please contact Revd Hugh Baker: 01924492530 /   hughcbaker [at] gmail.com

Or Ian Boocock: Mobile - 07789 304184

Or Ruth Edwards: 01924492129 /  07840395096

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