All Saints' Kempston Bell Ringers

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Kempston Bells Appeal - latest news

Article by Stephen Stanford published in The Ringing World March 16th 2018

Regular readers of The Ringing World may already be aware from David Kelly’s excellent 2017 Keltek Trust report (RW 5571, 2nd February) of a scheme to replace the 17th century 7th and Tenor bells at All Saints, Kempston, Bedfordshire, with the former 5th and tenor bells from Prinknash Abbey. The 17th century bells are to be preserved and hung dead as service and funeral bells, equipped with electronically operated solenoid hammers.  

The addition of the Prinknash bells will create a fine sounding and well balanced ring of ten with a tenor of just over 21cwt and a few cents flat of E, that we anticipate will be as enticing as the neighbouring rings at Cardington and Bromham, and will see completion of a scheme that was first conceived when the bells were re-hung in 1978. Cliff Izzard had the foresight to design and construct a frame that was suitable for replacement bells; in particular a heavier and larger diameter tenor bell. Although unachievable with available funds at that time, we have occasionally revived the dream, usually in a quiet corner of the pub after a good peal of Grandsire Caters and a couple of pints - which made it seem a little more realistic! The two Prinknash bells are a near perfect fit for the existing ring and available at an affordable price, and so presented a unique opportunity to realise the dream, that was too good to let pass by! 

The encouragement and support of Dave Kelly and the Keltek Trust, together with some very generous private donations and grants from the Bedfordshire Association, has brought us to within £10,000 of our £45,000 target for the scheme that also includes improvements to the dynamics and internal acoustics of the existing ring. We hope that those who have enjoyed ringing at Kempston over the years may wish to support us and we would be very grateful for donations to help complete the project during 2018, to mark the 40th anniversary of the 1978 refurbishment.

 

Update February 3rd 2019

Significant progress has been made since the March 2018 update. In particular:

  • The faculty application was successfully completed and approval to proceed with the work was granted by the Diocese in April 2018. The order for the work was placed with Whites of Appleton in May 2018, and revised in July 2018 to include additional tuning.

  • Further analysis, followed by detailed discussions with the bell tuner, resulted in recommendations to correct some errant partial tones in the existing bells rather than only tuning the replacement bells to fit. This will enable greater improvements than previously envisaged. A change to the faculty was approved by the Diocese and the additional scope and cost (£9,500) approved at a belfry meeting in May 2018.

  • Our fund raising efforts have been very successful with six grant offers currently totalling £15,100 along with personal donations, gift aid, and VAT recovery which now brings us close to the appeal target.

  • Work in the tower was due to commence in November. This has now been postponed by between two and three months, pending final design decisions and the current lead time required for Taylor’s of Loughborough to manufacture and supply the new tenor headstock. Our objective is to minimise the time that the bells are unavailable for ringing and occupying space in White’s workshop. (The actual duration of the work once started is unlikely to be more than six weeks).

 

Update May 15th 2019

****** We've started ******

The final ringing on the current ring of 10 bells took place on Easter Sunday and work has now started on this project. All the bell fittings have been removed and the old 7th and Tenor bells relocated within the belfry. The remaining bells have been removed from the tower and transported to Whites of Appleton Ltd. for tuning.

 
   

 

A frame painting day was arranged where a working party of local bell ringers painted the old steel frame and a new wooden floor is to be fitted in the belfry to help with sounding proofing between the bell chamber and the ringing room. Installation of the equipment and electrical wiring for the automatic chiming mechanism has also now been completed.