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St Thomas' Stockton Heath & St Mary Magdalene

Bell Ringing

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Update : 30 March 2017

We are now feeling much more confident as a band so we have decided that we no longer need to have closed practices.  This means that our Thursday evening practice nights are open to any visiting ringers who would like to join us, but please let us know if you would like to come along by ringing the Tower Captain on 07846 217495.

Update : 30 November 2016

The work on our bells has finally been completed and on Thursday 24th November 2016 we carried out a ten-bell test - all very exciting and successful and thankfully no bits dropped off (!) so we have been officially cleared to ring.

The band and our regular trainers and helpers from local towers will ring for practice nights only throughout December, commencing Sunday morning service ringing from 15th January 2017.  We also hope to ring for the service of Midnight Communion on 24th December and on New Year's Eve.

In order to allow our new ringers to gel as a band we have decided to hold closed practice nights for at least the first six months.  This is because we have been learning at various different towers in the branch, and only latterly having a joint practice night once a month.  We feel it is very important to give a lot of time to our new band and while we look forward to welcoming visitors in the future, we are going to protect our practice time as we become accustomed to our own bells and to ringing as a team.

However, we know that there may be ringers who would like to visit and ring our bells, so from February 2017 we will be offering this option.  One Saturday afternoon a month will be set aside for visiting bands and if you would like to make an initial enquiry please use the contact form on our website, scrolling down to select 'Bell Ringing Enquiry' from the drop-down "Who do you want to contact?" field.  We still have a lot of funds to raise because the project overspent, so we will be charging a fee of £10 per ringer to help towards the cost of our new bells.  We are politely refusing permission for any quarter or peal attempts until we have completed our 'firsts' on the bells as the Stockton Heath band, which we hope everyone will understand and respect.

 

We would like to say a massive thank you to all the people and organisations who have helped us to complete our tower works and obtain and install a ring of ten bells in our church tower:

The Heritage Lottery Fund whose generous grant made it all possible by a generous grant to facilitate the structural renovation of the tower making it sound for the installation of the bells.  They also funded provision of our new kitchen and toilet facilities with access for our disabled visitors

The National Churches Trust for support with additional structural works

The Chester Diocesan Guild of Bell Ringers and it’s Mid Cheshire branch for their generous grants, advice, volunteer labour and tuition for our own bell ringers

The Historic Cheshire Churches Preservation Trust, the Sharpe Trust and Stockton Heath Parish Council for their grants

Everyone who has shown interest, supported, and donated to our project

The army of volunteers who helped install the bells

The PCC and congregations of St Thomas’ and St Mary Magdalene’s Churches for their courage, dedication and generosity

Lloyd and Smith of Oldham —the main contractor and stonemasons for their patience, co-operation, hard work and expertise

Duncan Sanderson our Architect of Lloyd Evans Pritchard, Manchester for his direction and skill

Taylors Bell Foundry of Loughborough with a special mention of Steve Westerman the bell hanger

Although St. Thomas' Church was built with a tower big enough to hold a ring of bells, we think the money ran out before they could be installed back in the nineteenth century.  We are very excited that, owing to the generosity of St. John's church in Bollington and the Chester Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers along with those mentioned above, we have now installed a ring of ten bells in our tower.  To watch a video of the two new bells being cast please click here.

When St. John's church closed several years ago their bells were removed and stored at Taylor's Bell Foundry in Loughborough, and now in 2016 they have finally been winched up the outside of our tower and been housed in a newly built bell frame. 

            Bells are very, very heavy!           

The steels are installed in the belfry.

 

A bell is winched high up the tower and brought in through one of the windows which has had its stone tracery removed.

  

The bells are laid out in the position they'll occupy in the framework.

Each bell is fixed within a wheel on which it will turn as it's rung.

We have to wait until December 2016 before we can ring them, while the tower settles and the mortar dries after our extensive tower works, and in the meantime we have been training a brand new band of ringers.

If you would like to find out more about bell ringing at St. Thomas' Church please contact our vicar.

One of our ringers, Sarah, wrote an article for publication in the Ringing World all about our new band - to read it please click here.

If you've forgotten about it since you read it further up the page, you can enquire about booking to ring at our tower by using our Contact Form and selecting 'Bell Ringing Enquiry' from the drop-down "Who do you want to contact?" field.

With the kind permission of Richard Westman (who rings in Runcorn and who is very supportive of our project and new band) you can see and listen to our bells by clicking here: First public ringing of the new bells on You Tube (about 10.5 minutes)