Church Bells & Bell Ringing
Bells are the voice of the church building, calling people to worship and rung at weddings, funerals, state and local civic occasions, as well as to mark national events. After 170 years, ours had reached the end of their useful life. Our prestigious new peal of ten will be delivered, blessed and installed during November 2017.
Follow our Bellstory ...
November 2017: Delivery and Blessing
Our ten new bells will be delivered on Saturday 4 November, when they will be displayed in the church. Before being installed in the tower, each will be blessed by the Bishop of Doncaster and given the name of a northern Saint chosen by Messy Church and the classes of St Michael's Primary School. This is a once in a lifetime event for Kirkham, so do come along and join us on Sunday 5 November at 10.00am.
September 2017: Our New Bells Have Been Cast, Fettled and Tuned!
All six of our new bells have now been cast and united with the four we have acquired from a redundant Welsh church. After casting, the next step has been to tune them - listen here. All is on target for them to be brought to Kirkham for installation in October. Do find us (and more photos!) on Taylor's fascinating website (scroll down to find Kirkham).
6 July 2017: First Casting Session for Our New Bells
A coach-load travelled to Loughborough watch the first casting session for our new bells. A fantastic experience for all.
25 November 2016: Goodbye Bells!
The bells left Kirkham on 25 November 2016 for recasting at Taylor's. The Treble and No.4 will be sent to Holy Cross Church in Slapton, Buckinghamshire.
Our new bells will be cast on 6th and 20th July 2017 after which work will then continue to prepare the new frames
etc. before they can be brought to Kirkham.
November 2016: Bells Are Removed from the Tower
After lots of preparatory work (see below), Taylor's of Loughborough, our bellfounders, arrived on site to remove theactual bells from the tower.
November 2016: Volunteers Prepare the Bells for Removal
The bells up ready for removal of fittings
To substantially reduce costs we had eight working days during which to remove all fittings from the bells themselves; clappers, stays, sliders, ropes and wheels. Removing these gave us better access to the clock chime hammers and counterbalance weights. We then removed all woodwork, floor pulleys and guides in the clock room (silent chamber), followed by the removal of the high level rope guide within the ringing room itself. The dedicated team of volunteers did a great job.
Looking down on the bells after the removal of their wheels
The removed wheels
The removed clappers.
The two-part Tenor clapper (far left) is almost 2m long and weighs 39.6kgs!
The chime hammer for the tower clock from bell No.3
October 2016: Final Peal
The rope spider holds the bell ropes
Fylde Ringers rang a final quarter peal on Thursday 27 October 2016 dedicated to the placing of the Colours of the 7th
Battalion Loyal Lancs Regiment in our church, the opening of Church
Memorial House and the unveiling of the commemorative plaque to those
who fell in World War I.
We shall remember them.
The Restoration Project
Our exciting Project will replace the heavy, discordant, difficult to ring, 170 year old peal of eight bells with a modern, lighter, harmonically tuned peal of ten. The lighter weight and the provision of a new ringing room will make these bells easier to ring and will provide an excellent training facility. The addition of a CCTV system linking the belfry, ringing room and Church room will give a superb visitor experience.
Of the ten new bells, the front six will be recast from our old ones, with the details of the benefactors from 1846 newly inscribed, and the back four will come from a redundant church in Porth in Glamorgan.
Part of the cost has been funded by an application from the PCC to the Kirby Trust, with additional funding being sought from
businesses and charitable trusts. Organisations and individuals are
also invited to sponsor specific items such as ropes, bells and clappers
for amounts ranging from £20.00 to £5,000.00. A suitable plaque will
be prepared listing major sponsors. Inscriptions onto the headstocks or
bells to remember a loved one or special event may also be arranged.
Donations may be made by cheque, made payable to the Bell Restoration Account, or in cash. Please place in an envelope labelled 'Bell Fund' and hand to any bell ringer or Church official, post into the wall safe in the room at the back of the Church or post to The Treasurer, St Michael's Church, Church Street, Kirkham, PR4 2SE. Electronic transfers may be sent to the Bell Restoration Account number 80300987, sort code 01-04-84. Please Gift Aid where possible. Any contribution is appreciated, no matter how small.
You may also be able to assist in more practical ways - all you need is a willingness to help.
Bell Captain Terry Williams 01772 682484
Churchwarden Tony Kay 01772 685601
We need more bellringers! Bell ringing
does not require great physical strength, neither do you have to be
musically minded, though good hand-eye co-ordination and a good ear will
help. Young people must be at least 12
years old (those aged 12-16 need permission from a parent or
guardian). If you would like to learn, please phone me and your name will be added to the existing training programme.
Around the shoulder of all the bells was the inscription: C&G MEARS. FOUNDERS. LONDON. 1846.
No 4 PRESENTED BY Thomas Langton Birley, Kirkham. 1846.
No 6 PRESENTED BY Wm Birley ESQre. 1846.
No 8 Charles ) Birley Bailiffs of Kirkham
The Bellringing Team in the 1930's - Back row left to right: Ephriam Parkinson; Jimmy Worthington; Jimmy Whalley; Victor Whalley (brothers) and Chris Cookson. (Grandfather to Keith Cookson - still ringing).
In 1979 I became Bell Captain when George passed away and am still here. For a while I
had my own dynasty with both my sons and a daughter-in-law as part of
the ringing team. All towers do struggle to maintain a band of ringers
and Kirkham St. Michael is no different. Demands of college, changes of
employment, marriage, retirement etc. do drain the local band so new
ringers are constantly being sought. Bell ringing can be a very useful
and interesting hobby. It is a good introduction to new friends at college or work. Many ringers go on holiday to parts of the country
where church bells are in working order and spend some of their holiday
time going from tower to tower.