Wilbarston Bells
A project to restore the bells of All Saints' Church
What are we looking to do?
The project we are looking to undertake forms two main pieces of work:

Replacement of the worn out fittings - More details of exactly what this involves is below.

Add an extra bell - This will take the number of bells from five to six. 
What needs to be replaced?
To start with, let's take a look at how a church bell is hung and rung:
Many people think that churh bells just swing too and frow and go "ding-dong" and in the majority of countries, this is how bells are rung. However in the UK we took thinks further and ring bells "full curcle" so that a bell rings from mouth up to mouth up turning back and forth through 360 degrees. The animation to the right shows the side on view of a bell turning. The bell spins all the way round, one way and then the other controlled by the bell ringer at the end of the rope.

Ringing in this way generates huge forces: If we take the largest bell at Wilbarston, which weights just over 7cwt (784LBs, or 356Kg). As this bell swings it will generate downward forces of four times this weigh and sidways forces of twice its weight. 

While the bell fittings are all made to withstand this, over many years these forces do take their toll and causing parts to wear out.

With many of the fittings dating back to 1883, the bells at Wilbarston have reached the point where these parts need  to be replaced.
If we now look at the bells at Wilbarston, you will see its all the parts that turn or take large forces that need replacement. The actual bells themselves need to be tuned, but require nothing more.
What parts need to be re-furbished or replaced?
Bearings - These are old bearings that have to be regularly oiled. This means someone has to clamber up the tower every couple of weeks to do this. Not doing so makes the bells very hard work. After all the ringing that has taken place over the last 133 years these bearings are very worn and need to be replaced with modern, sealed, maintenance free bearings.
Headstocks - The old Elm headstocks are starting to deteriorate and become soft. The fittings holding the bells to them are starting to dig in to the softened wood. These need to be replaced with new metal versions that are much stronger.
Sliders These form part of a mechanism that stops the bell going too far past 360 degrees. You can see the end is very worn and these need to be replaced.
Roller Boxes - The ground pulleys help guide the rope from the bell wheel to the ringer down below. These are very worn and grooved and need to be replaced. The new pulleys also run on new sealed for life bearings.
Clappers - The pivots on which the clappers move are all worn and need to refurbished. The ball of the clapper, which is the bit that actually hits the bell, have become flat over time. These balls will need to be re-furbished and made round again
What difference will this make?
The main benefits of the work will bring:

- A set of bells that can be easily rung by all ages of ringers, especially youngsters

- It will give the church a ring of bells that will require no more than routine maintenance for the next 100 years

- A lasting legacy to the church and community.

What are the costs of this work?
Like every church in the UK, every ring of bells within them is unique and tailor made for that building. With the work to be undertaken all the components will have to be custom made by a specialist bell foundry and hanging company who have the knowledge and skills to manufacture and install all the parts necessary.

We are lucky to a point that following the tower being struck by lightning in 1982 (see our "About the Bells" page for details of this) two of the bells were rehung on modern fittings and these can re reused. Therefore we only have to repace the fittings on three of the current five bells. However it is the three largest and most expensive ones that need doing!

To add the additional bell, we will need to purchase the bell, a full set of bell fittings and additional frame work to hang this in.

These skills do not come cheap, though there are some way costs can be reduced. Below is a breakdown of the pricing of the various parts and how may are needed.

Stay - £60 each - five will be needed for all the current bells
Ropes - £200 each - six will be needed for the current bells, plus the new bell
Roller Box - £300 each - five will be needed for all the current bells
Slider - £50 each - five will be needed for all the current bells
Bearings - £200 each  - six will be needed (2 for each bell) for the three largest bells
New Headstocks - £1,200* each - three will be needed for the three largest bells
New Wheels - £900 each- five will be needed
Clappers - £300 each - five will be needed to refurbish or replace the clappers in the current five bells

 
New Treble Bell £4,600*
All the fittings, headstock, wheel etc for the new treble £2,700

 All items marked * can have an inscription applied. See below for examples of these.
How can I help?
Headstock Inscription

Here is a headstock at John Taylor &Co
showing the inscriptions that can be cast created.

Taylors have been using these headstocks since 1893 therefore any inscription will be around for a very long time.

Inscribing headstocks has only been available for a few years and John Taylor & Co. are the only bell hanging company to offer this.
Any Assistance you can provide will be much appreciated! If you have ideas or skills please share these with us, we would love to hear about them.

Even the odd word of support and encouragement will be gratefully received.

If you can help finically and wish to make a donation or would like to enquire about sponsoring a part of the new installation then please get in touch.

If it is just a one off donation then please visit our donations page where you will find many ways to contribute to the project.

If you are interested in sponsoring, or part sponsoring, a particular part, or would like to know about a particular part of the project, then please visit our contact page and get in touch.
Bell Inscription

Here is an example of a new bell showing an inscription.

Putting symbols on bells has been going on for over hundreds of years, but as people have become more literate over the centuries lettered inscription have become more common.

The oldest inscribed bell in Northamptonshire dates from 1317!

Here is the chance to leave a message that will still be around in hundreds of years time!