Getting the bells and tower fit for ringing

Care of Bells and Belfries

Making ringers welcome and comfortable

Getting ready to inspect and maintain bells

Looking after ringing rooms and access

Maintaining bells and their fittings

These videos were prepared by Tom Ridgman, Ely Diocesan Bells Adviser, and originally presented by Tom as a single one-hour session to the Association and we are grateful to them for their permission to reuse this material.

Top Ten Tips

Permission and preliminaries

  • Discuss preparations for ringing with the Incumbent and Church Officers. Get their agreement, ideally in writing, or in meeting minutes.
  • Consider Health & Safety, Risk Assessments, Safeguarding, Insurance, other relevant policies, electrical (PAT), lightning conductor.
  • More information from the CCCBR – Tower Operation tab.

The team

  • Churchwarden or relevant member of the church authorities.
  • Ringer competent to undertake tower checks and maintenance.

What to prepare

  • Suitable protective clothing, lights, keys, functional mobile phone, note pad and pens, camera, chalk.

Record all checks and observations, plus recommended actions

Check things may have changed since the last ringing

  • External visual appearance of tower, louvres, windows, lightning conductor, flag pole.
  • Ground floor, access ways, intermediate chambers, ringing room, bell chamber, roof.
  • Are stairs, ladders, trap doors, floors still safe and secure?
  • Are the bells down?
  • Evidence of any changes – damp or water leaks, unauthorised access by people.
  • Animal / vermin entry – birds, squirrels, bats, mice, rats, flies etc.
  • Physical disturbance or damage –equipment, tools, materials left, wind damage, louvres and items displaced or broken.
  • Clock – stopped, weights bottomed out, links broken, hammers on / off bells.

Bell installation checks

  • Clock hammers, mechanism and weights.
  • Chiming equipment.
  • Whole bell installation (displace each movable item by hand slightly).
  • Clappers, wheels, sliders, stays, bearing.
  • Ropes, rope path, pulleys.
  • More information from the CCCBR – Tower Infrastructure tab.

Silence each bell so clapper does not strike

  • Ring up each individual bell carefully – IF all appears SAFE AND SOUND.

Ring down each bell and recheck in bell chamber

Overall environment

  • Tidy up, remove out of date notices, biscuits, chocolates and rubbish.
  • Prepare for welcoming back ringers.

Next steps

  • Plan remedial actions (get permission).
  • Plan the first ringing with a band, capable of judging that all is well when they ring.
  • Plan future recruitment, refresher sessions, celebration ringing and events.
  • Inform neighbours and parish – a media opportunity.

Further information