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:
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.
Update December 14th 2019
****** They're back *******
The bells have now been returned and have been re-hung. The first ringing took place on Saturday December 14th and Sunday Service ringing re-commenced on Sunday 15th December 2019