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Barrow Bells - Tower News Archive for 2013

Please send an email to the address given for Ringing/Tower Contact on the Contact Us page if you wish to be informed when updates are made to the news page.

Those people that register will receive a brief email with the web page address of the pages that have been updated

This page will present news about the tower with the most recent at the top of the page

December November October September August July June May April March February January

All images © Andrew Pollock (www.barrowbells.org.uk). To ask permission to use - please see contact us page.


December 2013


Andy and Jo Pollock fitted the pulleys to the ringing room ceiling for the rope spider, and hooks on the wall to support the old tenor wheel.

27 & 28

Andy Pollock, Alan Dewar, Jo Sweeney, Alan Jones, and Owen Osmotherley, painted the 4th wall (and repainted part of the west wall) of the new belfry; and all walls of the ringing room (the upper half of the room also got a second coat of paint).


John Bagnall (known as Jack) was born on Christmas Day 1913, and was a long serving tower captain at St James.

Exactly one hundred years later, his grandson Tony Bagnall presented the church with a table to commemorate Jack
Tony made the table using Oak salvaged from the bell frame that was removed as part of the bell restoration project in 2013.

The table will be used as the credence table during services of Holy Communion.


Andy Pollock, Keith Newby and his brother Cliff, plus Walney Scout Group leader braved dreadful weather to ring carols on handbells at the outside market near Santa and reindeer!

Generous donations from the council and public managed to raise £126 for St James' bells and St Mary's bell


Andy Pollock, Alan Dewar, Hugh Pettifer, and Owen Osmotherley, began painting the walls of the new belfry with special paint (Earthborn Claypaint) that is porous and would adhere to previous limewash or bare brick.

The weather was stormy, with damaging gusts tearing apart one of the fence panels belonging to the compound at the foot of the tower, and the wire mesh was flailing around dangerously! In the event the best option was for Steve Black (Leck Construction Ltd) to take down the compound.
The Galebreaker seems to be very effective, but the trays beneath have not got fibreglass lining yet, so we had a puddle in the new belfry below. Lined tray at west side of old belfry with a sheet of polythene to try and direct water down drainpipe into guttering.


Carol Service at church was well attended again, with excellent contributions by the hand chimes and choir of St James CE Junior School.

Tonight our stall of woodturned items raised almost £100 for the bell restoration appeal.


Half-page article on page 9 of today's North-West Evening Mail about the delay to the re-dedication (Delays mean the bells AREN'T ringing out for Christmas Day), and a fairly comprehensive description of the work that has been completed or is in progress.

Unfortunately the printed copy misquoted the rescheduled date for the dedication service, but this has been corrected on-line.

It was a pity they did not use the Heritage Lottery Fund logo as requested, or any of the photos supplied of the bells at Whitechapel Bell Foundry, or Nicholsons Engineering.
Perhaps they will use these images in a follow-up feature to pick up on the pioneering new method for tuning church bells, and the fact that the inscriptions have survived the shot-blast cleaning of the bells and are almost as good as new, and the sound is better that it was when they were new!

The NW Evening Mail's column "Our View" was kind in declaring "Proud of bells despite delay".


The Rt Revd James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle will be coming to St James, Barrow-in-Furness to re-dedicate the ring of 8 bells on:

Sunday 9th March, at 4pm

We hope to make it a day of great celebration and prayer, and hope you can come along to join in this special day!


Rt Revd James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle cannot make a re-dedication in February, so we are now considering an early evening re-dedication service on Sunday 9th March. The rescheduled date will be confirmed as soon as possible and we have received confirmation from other people involved.



When the restoration work began earlier this year, it was believed that sufficient funds had been assembled to complete the project.

Once restoration had begun, significant problems with the fabric of the tower were revealed and additional work was necessary.
This has caused the cost to increase, so that we are now faced with a shortfall of £18,000.

We are planning more fundraising activities, and are actively seeking new & extended grants.

We would welcome any donations or suggestions. Please see How To Donate if you would like to make a donation, or Contact Details to make any suggestions for fundraising ideas or people & organisations that might support any of the community or heritage aspects of the project.


Scaffold platform has been lowered to half the height of the ringing room last week, ready for decorating upper and lower half of the walls. Now we just need to purchase the materials, and find some volunteer help to prepare and paint!

November 2013



Final 3 pieces of oak bell frame have been claimed to be crafted and recycled into new items.

Woodturned items continue to sell and raise funds for the restoration.
There will be a table selling more of the woodturned items at the Carol service on 12th December


Two neat holes (approx 3" diameter) drilled through brickwork at new belfry level, ready to connect the two lightening conductors on the tower to the bell frame when it is installed in January 2014.



P1160897 P1160904 P1160905

Tower had a stall at the winter/Christmas fair, selling woodturned items hand crafted from bell frame and wooden fittings removed from the tower in August.

Bowls, Corkscrews, Wine Bottle Stops, Pens, Letter Openers, Light Pulls, Key Rings, and Ornamental Mushrooms were all for sale with prices ranging from £1.50 to £15.00

Enough money has been raised to cover all the metal fittings and other expenses, and raise nearly £100 profit, whilst still having enough stock to raise a further £200!

The remaining pieces along with any new pieces will be on sale at the Carol Service on Thursday 12th December, and commissions are also being taken. New pieces will be produced in time for the dedication service expected in February 2014, and open days to follow.


Floor boards and hatches in new belfry are now complete



Martyn from WavyGrain came to collect the majority of the remaining oak bell frame, and intends to return for the final pieces next week.

He also brought along a few candle holders that he had created from a pitch pine running board, and Wax Lyrical candles. Looking forward to seeing what he can craft from the oak timbers of the bell frame.



We are thrilled to announce the birth of Katherine Elizabeth Hallows, a beautiful baby girl weighing 8lb 6oz to proud parents Carl and Rachel Hallows. Mother and daughter are both well, and Carl is in that overjoyed daze of new fatherhood!

We wish them all our love and very best wishes.



Joists of new ringing room ceiling has been underboarded with quality plywood, and its floorboards have been lagged with a layer of acoustic insulation wool.

The belfry doorway was inspected to create plausible solutions to adding a secure door to this arched doorway, on curved wall, with a step rising half way across the doorway. A bifold door looks the most promision option.



Following discussions between all parties concerned, a serious flaw in the work schedule has become apparent, and this unfortunately means that however we try to jiggle the necessary resources, we will be unable to be ready to re-dedicate the bells at the Carol service on 12th December, and we will also be unable to ring the bells for Christmas!

The sequencing of the work meant that there would be inadequate access for concreting the frame grid beam ends into the wall before the bells were in their pits.

A new schedule has been drawn up which sees the bells returning at the start of January, and the work should complete at the end of the month.

The re-dedication is being re-arranged for a weekend afternoon on one of the last two weekends in February, depending on the availability of the Bishop of Carlisle.



P1160684 P1160711

On Friday 1st November, an intrepid group set off at 6am to travel to Bridport in Dorset to see the bells of St James, Barrow-in-Furness for the first time since they left the church in August.

Alan Dewar and Andy Pollock drove Brenda Pearce (Churchwarden) and Bernice Dent (PCC), and two students from the Furness College. The students came to take some film footage, as part of a project to produce a short video about the bell restoration for the local studies archives (at Barrow library) and dock museum. The video should also be available for anyone who is interested.

We arrived in Bridport at lunchtime and were joined by several others who had travelled independently.
Hugh Pettifer who (like Alan) had invested much time and effort removing the bells in August.
Dennis Ellisdon our most generous individual benefactor who learned to ring at St James in the late 1950’s, and
Geoff & Carole Pullin who started this restoration project and have invested so much time and effort in managing the project over the last 3 or 4 years!

The first thing we noticed was that the outside rim of the bell was shiny where the foundry had removed some bell metal during the tuning process. Whitechapel had been developing this new method of tuning the bells on individual bells, but our bells were the first set of 8 bells that were suitable to tune in this way, and by all accounts (and the sound and hum of the Tenor) they will sound fantastic.

The other thing that was immediately apparent was how fantastic the bells looked without the thick verdigris, and we were excited to see that the inscriptions had not been sacrificed in the shot-blasting process, but indeed were almost as clear as the day they were cast!

We were then shown the bell frame, and wheels, and toured the wood and metal workshops.

It was like the paparazzi had descended on Bridport, as cameras appeared everywhere, flashes going off in all directions!

After spending about 3 hours looking at the bells, and around the works, and chatting to Andrew Nicholson and his team, we adjourned to have a ring at Lyme Regis.
Brenda and Bernice watched with interest as the students managed to squeeze some more footage on the memory cards. The ringing was of varying quality, some very good but one or two rings struggled. Even the less successful rings did not spoil the good humour and very warm & friendly welcome from the local ringers.

A meal at the Pilot Boat nearby was excellent, and offered a more relaxed opportunity to chat with Andrew & Linda Nicholson and a few others.

Earlier during our visit we discussed the projected schedule for the return of the bells. It looks as though the bells would come back to Barrow on 2nd December, and we would have the bells in the tower in time for a rededication on 12th December, and fully ringing in time for Christmas.

October 2013

  • Aluminium ladder has been fitted between sub-spire platform and spire (perhaps over a week ago)
  • The new ceiling for the ringing room has been completed including hatch (twin hatch). Sound insulation still to be installed.
  • Replacement Intermediate Room floor (floor of new belfry) nearing completion
  • Bell Frame Wall Pockets complete: 4 x Main Beam with Pad-Stone (2 in NW wall, 2 in SE wall), 7 x Std Beam (4 in SW wall, 3 in NE wall).
  • Obsolete lead pipe has been removed.
  • Electrician has power and Cat5 cable in N corner of new belfry. Waiting for builders to finish work generating brick dust and rubble that could damage light/heater fittings.


  • Old belfry work complete as far as able before bells return - Weather Protection, Ladder, Floor, and new Support Beam.
    After bells installed in chamber below, mesh panels will be fixed, and fibreglass laid.
  • Scaffolding has been removed from the intermediate room to allow work on floors and wall
  • Sockets in walls being created for padstones and main girders of new bell frame.
  • Joists being fitted for new ringing room ceiling, and replacement floor in new belfry (old intermediate room). These floors are only about 2 feet apart. They will provide sound protection and physical safety barrier between the bells and the ringers. The 50mm (2") thick floor boards have been delivered.
  • Obsolete lead pipe has been removed from the wall.
  • Electrician was installing strip lights in ringing room, and switch for heating circuit.
    ToDo: Lights and emergency lighting also for new belfry. Power for bell chimes and cabling for CCTV.

  • New support beam almost fitted. Slight difficulty because it seems about 2mm too long, but Gilmour confident can complete tomorrow
  • The new galvanised metal mesh floor panels have been laid in place in the old belfry, but not fully secured yet.
    See photo with uplighting through mesh floor in Gallery 10
    They look fabulous, and I am looking forward to the prospect of being able to stand and look beneath my feet to see the bells ringing
    The size of the mesh floor area is a good sized opening so should not unduly restrict sound from reaching outside the tower.
  • Lead water pipe is redundant and can be removed. It appears from panelling in West corner of ringing room, travels vertically and then round North of walls of intermediate room (new belfry) before entering through wall of stairwell, where it has been chopped off at some earlier date.
  • Four pad-stones on scaffold platform ready to fit two on either side of tower, to support the two main beams of the new bell frame
  • From Monday, the scaffolding will start to be lowered to make way and allow Leck Construction to install the new ringing room ceiling, and the replacement floor for the intermediate room (new belfry)

PCC Meeting - agreed to offer Andy Pollock the position of Tower Captain.



  • The old belfry floor has been completely stripped back and all joists replaced where needed.
  • The bed for the fibreglass drainage trays with raised edging and drain pipes to guttering below have been completed.
    The joist area in the centre where the metal mesh panels will sit, looks like a great size for allowing the sound to rise through from the bells below and out of the louvres. Photo added to Gallery 10
  • Noticed a lead water pipe above the old joists in the intermediate room - may need to check this out further


Furness & South Lakeland Branch LACR - Annual General Meeting
Among various items discussed:
Training Teachers
Possibility of the branch running some practical sessions to help novice teachers learn techniques for teaching new ringers bell handling safely and effectively. Could also check rusty teachers, or any other teacher who wants to check whether their own teaching technique needs any fine tuning.
Also asked whether worth looking into ITTS (Integrated Teacher Training Scheme). I think there could be something of value to come out of this relatively new initiative.
New Ringers
All towers in the branch could do with an influx of new talent, and both Barrow and Millom are (or will be) in the position of needing to build a complete new band. I made the suggestion that it would be good to try and promote ringing across the branch and perhaps try to support some 'intensive' training courses run over one or two days, to compress many weeks bell handling tuition into one weekend.
Diana Handley was recommended as a point of contact for starting a new band.
Perhaps both Teacher Training and Teaching New Ringers could be done at the same course(s).
Simulator Branch Simulator
A request that the Branch ABEL Simulator that is currently kept at Flookburgh, might be well used at Barrow while we train new ringers outside standard practice times, to accelerate progress of a new band of ringers. Keith Hackney announced that this had been his and Kevin Mayfields suggestion. Since the committee were all at the meeting, along with members of the Flookburgh tower, could the motion be raised and carried at this AGM?
It was agreed that the Branch Simulator could be installed at Barrow, and in due course when need arises, it could be moved on to another tower.
LACR AGM Furness & South Lakeland Branch LACR host the Association AGM
The LACR AGM is hosted by a different branch each year by rotation, and this year it the turn for our branch.
It was considered to be a good idea to host the AGM in and around Barrow, especially as a large 5-figure grant was made for the restoration of Barrow bells from the LACR Bell Restoration Fund.
There will be a lot of interest to see where and how the money has been spent, and the improvement to our ring of bells.
It takes place in April, an there will need to be some early preparations to plan ringing at neighbouring towers, and food at the meeting (possibly make arrangements with an outside catering firm).



  • The old belfry floor has been stripped back and most joists replaced.
  • Electrical work has begun - new cable run up tower with new switches in ringing room and new belfry, and new (much brighter) lights in the spiral stairwell
  • One joist has been taken out of walls from the old intermediate room floor, and new sockets have been cut out of brickwork for new joists for both the floor of the new belfry, and the new ringing room ceiling.
  • More materials delivered including some rainwater drainage pipes, elbows, etc. A collection of what I presume to be padstones for the new bell frame are also in the foot of the tower having been delivered over a week ago.
  • A number of contractors visited at the end of the week including someone who will install fibreglass trays beneath galebreaker panels.


Leck Construction have discovered that both the main beams of the old belfry floor are rotten within the brickwork beyond the corbels on the south west side of the tower (the side which receives the worst weather). We are seeking advice about the best options for dealing with the problem, such as installing a new substantial and galvanised beam transversely to support the original beams, and obtain estimates for the extra cost.


Bell Restoration Information Received from Whitechapel Bell Foundry

Whitechapel Bell Foundry completed their work to the bells on Thursday 19th September (or thereabouts) and recorded some important information about the work they undertook to restore the bells. They recently sent the data to Nicholson Engineering (who have relayed this information to us).

Whitechapel completed 3 critical and highly skilled tasks:

  1. CLEAN - Remove the thick layer of corrosion from the bells (I believe they sandblast the verdigris)
  2. CANNONS - Remove the loops at the top of the bell (known as the canons) used to strap the bell onto the wooden headstock. Nowadays bells are bolted directly through the bell into the metal headstock.
  3. TUNE - a particularly skilful part of the restoration. The bell is spun in an inverted position on a large metal lathe, and shavings of the bell metal are taken from the inside of the bell to adjust the resonant frequencies of the different harmonics of the bell.

The key information we sought was:
A) Learn about the new weights of the bells.
B) Confirmation of (or refute) the original weights of the bells that were recorded in the Tower Log Book.
C) How successful the tuning excercise had been.

The definitive details of the weights of the bells before and after tuning & pitch/harmonics received, are presented below:


[A] Before & After Restoration
This table compares the measured weight of each bell before and after restoration at Whitechapel Bell Foundry.
    BEFORE = accurate weight of the bell after verdigris removed, but before the cannons were removed.
    AFTER = accurate weight of the bells after all the work was complete (cleaned, canons removed, and tuned).

The removal of the cannons (a significant weight on their own) might have proportionally higher impact/change in weight for the smaller bells, but could simply be due to some bells needing to be tuned more than others.

(Before and after removing cannons + tuning bells)
BELLImperial (Cwt-Qtr-Lbs)equivalent Metric (Kgs)Difference
1 (Treble)5-3-274-1-2430422777.625.48%
8 (Tenor)14-0-812-0-2471562194.413.2%

[B] Confirm or Refute Weights Recorded in Tower Log Book in 1877
This next table compares weights from early tower records, against the actual weight of the bells measured after the corrosion was removed, but before cannons were removed and bells tuned.

The figures from the early tower records are noticeably different from the actual weights, with smaller bells heavier and the large bells lighter in reality than the early records.
However the total weight is only about 85kg different (3499Kg vs 3414Kg), and part of that total weight difference might be attributable to the weight removed when the bells were cleaned.
It would be easy to speculate that the original 1877 tower log figures must have been a 'estimates' based on the total bell metal used for the set of bells.

(Original 1877 Tower Log Book Values -vs- 2013 Weight Before Removing Cannons + Tuning Bells)
BELLImperial(Cwt-Qtr-Lbs)equivalent Metric (Kgs)Difference
1 (Treble)5-1-05-3-27267304-37-14%
8 (Tenor)15-3-014-0-88007158511%


[C] How Successfully Have The Bells Tuned?

Nicholson Report about the tuning of the bells at Whitechapel Bell Foundry:

Whitechapel have been quietly developing a revolutionary new tuning technique for old bells over the last few years which they have used for a number of single bells. This is, however, the first time they have had a complete peal in for tuning in which all the bells were suited to this technique. The improvement is quite remarkable and has turned the bells into what will certainly be an exceptionally fine peal. I have been listening to and analysing the bells this morning and I am looking forward enormously to hearing them installed in the tower.

Frequencies Measured Before & After Restoration
This table compares the measured frequencies of the harmonics of each bell before and after restoration at Whitechapel Bell Foundry. The nominal’s are relatively little changed. The dramatic improvements centre on the 2nd partials (prime/fundamentals) which have been improved out of all recognition, as have the hum notes which are the next in importance.

See the Strike Tone wikipedia article to explain some of these terms.

(Frequencies of the key partials in the harmonics of each bell before/after tuning)
BELLTuningHum2nd partial
3rd partial5th partialNominal
8 (Tenor)Before:
A# / Bb
1 (Treble)Before:

September 2013


Leck Construction have started work removing the old belfry floor and replacing the joists. A couple of new photos added to Gallery 10


PROGRESS REPORT from Nicholson Engineering
Bells were shipped from Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London and arrived safely at Nicholson Engineering earlier this week!

The weight of each bell has reduced from the original figures, by a little more than we expected. We expected a reduction in weight from:

  1. Removal of the 'cannons' (see diagram)
  2. Cleaning - removal of the verdigris (corrosion)
  3. Tuning - skilled removal of bell metal from inside bell to change pitch of prime note and harmonics
However the original figures in the Tower Log Book may not have been accurate - they may have been estimates rather than actual weights.

Whitechapel Bell Foundry measured the weight before they did any work, so we will find out the accurate loss of weight in due course (once we recieve the 'before' weights from Whitechapel).

The good news is that the Andrew Nicholson is very excited about the sound of the bells! Apparently Whitechapel have been developing new tuning techniques over the last couple of years, and our bells are the first full set of 8 bells to benefit from these developments. In Andrew Nicholson's opinion the tuning at Whitechapel has produced a "Spectacular Improvement" to the sound of the bells, and they are so good they are likely to be quite sought after by the ringing fraternity. The bells will be a pleasure to listen to.

The comparison of the weights according to the old records and the new figures provided by Nicholson Engineering (fractional figures rounded to nearest unit):

BELLImperial (Cwt-Qtr-Lbs)Metric (Kgs)Difference

Unfortunately, Nicholson Engineering are running a couple of weeks behind schedule because of illness of key people. Sadly at least one is serious illness, so we pray that they make a full recovery.


Great response by craftspeople across South Cumbria to the offer of old hardwood from the tower.
Three more enthusiastic craftsmen and women converged from Millom (Bootle), Grange-over-Sands, and Levens.

We now have over 10 people breathing new life into the old timber from the tower:

  • Leanne Bolger is a professional photographer, who also makes a range of objects from recycled wood and slate
  • Michael & Heather Wilding of Cumbria Woodcrafts create wooden handmade gifts, furniture, crates and boxes
  • David Johnstone makes wood turned items from British and exotic timbers
  • Martyn Whittaker from WavyGrain hand crafts a range of products such as chopping boards, butchers blocks, and serving platters, and has already made a tea light holder from the plank that was the ramp from the door to the belfry to the top of the wooden frame.
  • Alan and Tony Bagnall, son and grandson of long serving tower captain Jack Bagnall. Tony is a local joiner who is keen to reuse the wood for furniture and other projects
  • Ray Purchase is a local woodturner, who is generously making hand crafted pens and letter openers from an ash stay, and oak wheel spindles
  • Three generations of Andy Pollock's family are making a range light pulls, corkscrews, bottle stoppers, key rings, bowls and other items
  • Members of the Furness Woodturning and Woodcrafts Association have previously made a selection of ring holders, key rings, pens, light pulls, bowls etc. from the elm headstock of the 4th bell.

Each one has a slightly different niche/speciality, and all speak of their passion for the potential of such old, seasoned, and characterful wood. They also like the fact they know the provenance of the wood, which they can pass on to the new owners of the items they produce.

Several people have kindly offered to make something for the tower as a treasured keepsake to remind future generations of the wood from the original frame and fittings. We hope that there will be an opportunity to sell some other items at the church fair in November; an open day in December; and possibly before the Carol Service.

Virtually nothing is being wasted. Frame, headstocks, wheel spokes, sliders and stays, and even the floor boards are all being recycled!

The vast majority of the pile of timber has been taken away to be crafted into all kinds of exciting objects, and the remaining pile of wood has shrunk dramatically to about a dozen pieces. There is still some interest in salvaging some more of the remaining pieces, and there might be some two inch thick floorboards from the belfry floor available in the coming weeks.

More photos added to Gallery 10


All 4 Galebreaker Bayscreen panels have been fitted, along with the access ladder between the old belfry and the sub-spire platform.
All the Scaffold has been removed from the old belfry, and the metal mesh floor panels have been delivered and are currently stored on the sub-spire platform, ready for when they replace the belfry floor & joists.

More photos added to Gallery 10


PROGRESS REPORT from Nicholson Engineering
Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London are due to complete their work (cleaning, tuning and removal of canons) on Thursday of next week.
We (Nicholson Engineering) are currently in the process of making arrangements to collect the bells which will be either a week today or early the following week.

Whitechapel have agreed to take some pictures while the bells are with them. These images will be added to Gallery 10 as soon as the barrowbells website receive them.

EXCITING NEWS: We understand that those bells which have been finished have been entirely transformed so the signs that a really fine peal of bells will result are good!

Meanwhile in Bridport, Dorset (home of Nicholson Engineering) the new wheels are nearly finished and work on the headstocks has begun.


Gilmour Engineering have fitted the galebreaker brackets below & above each louvre opening. Photos added to Gallery 10
Frazer Smith (barrow bell-ringer) is a welder working for Gilmour, and revealed that he had made the substantial brackets.

Gilmour has manufactured and brought the new ladder that will provide access from the old belfry to the sub-spire platform (the old ladder disintegrated in July when removed from the frame). It was lifted in 3 parts (upper, lower, and safety hoops).

The ladder was fixed in place later on in the day, once the lower galebreaker bracket on the SW side had been raised to accommodate the wall stand-off bracket on the ladder.

Leck Construction have already re-instated the sub-spire platform floor boards, and at 1.30pm were in the process of fitting the heavy grade galebreaker bayscreen panel to the NW faces of the tower, having already completed the panel on the NE.


Martyn Whittaker sends photo of tea light holder that he produced from wooden plank removed from the tower.
Note (15/9/2013): This has sold, but he's making more things from the wood... see website & especially facebook page for comments

Monday4 - 23
Foundry20130904_Barrow tenor before tuning Foundry20130904_100_2215


Bells have already been shotblasted clean, and had canons removed. Now they begin to be tuned.
Tuning different bells until at least 16th September.
Ready to ship to Nicholsons Bell-Hangers in Dorset on 23rd September.

Tenor bell before & after tuning.

Cumbrian Wood Products WavyGrain proprietor Martyn Whittaker came to view the remaining pieces of bell frame and takes some away to hand craft and recycle them into new objects.


August 2013


Encountered craftsmen - pole lathe and someone who makes chopping boards - at the Medieval Fair held at Furness Abbey.
Both seemed keen and interested in putting wood from bell frame to good use. Hope to contact soon and recycle more of the wood.


Travelled to Bolton Abbey to drop off copies of images from tower archives (see Gallery 5) for their own archivists, and an opportunity to visit locations.
New photographs were taken at each location and in due course the gallery will be updated to include these images too.


VIRTUAL 360° TOUR is brilliant!

The Virtual 360° Tour of St James' belfry is NOW AVAILABLE and can be viewed at http://www.andrew-rose.co.uk/st_james/virtualtour.html.
In fact there are two virtual tours available (selectable at left hand side of virtual tour)

Photographer Andrew Rose visited tower on 11th August and made this fabulous photo-record of the bells hanging in the original wooden bell frame, before they were removed as part of the restoration work.
The bells will return without the frame, and it is intended to produce another virtual tour of the restored bells later in the year, hung on the new metal frame in their new location lower in the tower.

Andrew has generously donated his time and expertise, and hosted the resultant virtual tours on his website. These Virtual 360° Tours are a unique and impressive way of making a public record of the state of the bells before their restoration, and we are very grateful and delighted with the results.


Carl Hallows from Dalton assists again, looking at dismantling headstocks to release elm and metal for recycling, but the effort involved is too much for the reward. More direct methods of separating wood/metal (such as chainsaw) will need to be employed.


News that the belfry floor inspection revealed that joists and much of floor need replacing.
So there is now an opportunity to have metal mesh panels as big as the metre wide perimeter walkway will allow, to allow sound through from the bells below.


Brian and Peter from the Furness Woodturning and Woodcrafts Association come to look at the wood, but regrettably decide not to use any of the wood.
They have concerns over the remaining metalwork and cracks in the timber, and the risks of cutting the wood up.
They also found the elm headstock that they turned previously to be too dry and seasoned, which made it very difficult to turn, so this discouraged them from repeating the experience.
They also did not have sufficient storage. Overall they felt that it was not worth their members trying to work with the wood.

We now investigate our other contacts who might have a use for the wood beyond burning it! Starting with Alan and Tony Bagnall (joiner by trade) - the son & grandson of the late Jack Bagnall tower captain. There are others people and wood craftpersons to approach.

Contractor Meeting
To follow-up after the successful removal of the bells, there was a meeting with the Geoff Pullin, Architect, Nicholson Engineering, Leck Construction and Gilmore Fabrication to discuss future work to be undertaken.


North West Evening Mail article on page 10 of today's paper titled

"Move to refurbish bells chimes with Freda, 94"

NWEM_20130816      P1150895



The work to dismantle and remove the oak frame from the belfry continues.

Just before lunch Keith Newby is interviewed for BBC Radio Cumbria by Jennie Dennett, helping to advertise public opportunity to view the bells before the truck arrives in the early afternoon to load and transport them to Whitechapel Bell Foundry.

Other people gather to see the bells loaded onto the truck, including Barrow ringers Frazer Smith and his family, and Alan Jones and his wife

By the end of the day the job was done! The bells had set off for Whitechapel earlier in the afternoon, the last of the oak frame had been removed and deposited in a pile next to the skip inside the builders compaound at the foot of the tower. The only remaining part of the frame was next to the entrance to the belfry where it held up a panel at the top of the spiral staircase.
The block and tackle, and tools were lowered, and the floor was swept (quite a bit of dust blew back up into the belfry with the tower acting like a chimney), and the trapdoor was put back in place.

Photos from the day are available to view in Gallery 10


North West Evening Mail article


appears online and on top of page 2 of today's paper.



The bells are lowered carefully 5th, 2nd, 6th, 4th, Treble, Tenor, 7th, and finally 3rd.

At one point 5 bells are lined up outside the church, before being moved inside

Family Connections
Freda Standish (nea Limb) looking well at 94 years old, visits to see the bells her father Fred C Limb rang from about 1925.
There are more connections with past ringers, with Keith and Cliff Newby involved in the removal of the bells, whose father Nick Newby rang at similar time to Fred Limb.
We also get a visit later from Alan Bagnall son of long standing tower captain Jack Bagnall, who sadly passed away in 2009 before he could see the bells restored.

The tenor is a tight squeeze between joists, scaffold poles and the slightly too narrow trapdoor in the ringing room floor, but all obstacles are negotiated with care and a bit of ingenuity. There is just one minor incident where the headstock of the tenor lodges on top of a scaffold plank as it is lowered near the foot of the tower, and the plank snaps like a twig by the weight of the bell and headstock.

By the end of the day all the bells are lined up in the side aisle of the church, ready to be loaded onto the truck when it arrives the following day.

Photos from the day are available to view in Gallery 10



P1150800 Phil Dunnett from Nicholson Engineering Ltd begins overseeing six enthusiastic volunteers (Cliff & Keith Newby, Malcolm Eacott, Simon Pullin, Alan Dewar and Hugh Pettifer) in the hard work of dismantling and lowering the bells and oak bell frame from the belfry in the tower.

By the end of the day the clappers and wheels had all been removed (except for lower half of tenor wheel, which would wait until removal of the tenor bell). The 2nd and 5th bells had also been removed from their pits in the centre of the belfry (the 2nd sat on frame between 3rd and 4th; and the 5th was dangling from rider beam over the hole where the trapdoor had been located and removed).

Photos from the day are available to view in Gallery 10



Nicholson Engineering Ltd (bell hangers) coming north from their base at Bridport in Dorset to begin work on the removal of the bells and bell-frame. Work should be complete within the week.
Phil Dunnett will not arrive until late in the day, so we expect that he will inspect the tower on arrival, and leave the heavy work until tommorrow.


North West Evening Mail article "CHURCH BELLS BEGIN JOURNEY TO RESTORATION" appears online and at the bottom of page 2 of today's paper.


Scaffold in belfry has been dismantled last week in preparation for Nicholson Engineering (bell-hanger) and volunteers to remove bells and dismantle bell-frame.

Andrew Rose (professional photographer) takes 360° Virtual Tour photographs of the pre-restoration bells in the oak bell-frame.
A final opportunity to mke a record of the bells in the original 1877 frame before the bells are carefully removed, and the bell-frame dismantled next week.

UPDATE (24/8/2013): The VIRTUAL 360° TOUR is now available for you to view. In fact there are two virtual tours available (selectable at left hand side of virtual tour)


Half-page North West Evening Mail article appears on page 9 of today's paper.

"The bells of St James' getting ready to show off their ap-peal"

July 2013


Cumbria Design Scaffold have completed scaffold throughout tower and in belfry. Leck Construction have removed intermediate floor (but leaving joists) and stripped floorboards from platform above bells/beneath spire. They have also joined the 3 section weight-bearing rider beam, and fitted it in place across the metal beams supporting the spire access platform. Tony Shaw (site manager) told of how the old ladder between bell-frame and spire-access platform fell apart when it was removed, because it was so badly corroded and unsafe.


Octopus Collective Full Of Noises (FON) Festival comes to St James.

Among other performances the audience is treated to the inaugural performance of a brand new piece composed by Jonathan Hering titled Veil of Nightshade. It is specially composed to use the William Hill church organ, and 27 of the collection of handbells from St James, many of which date back to 1870!


Cumbria Design Scaffold have completed scaffold in ringing room, and Leck Construction have done some work to intermediate floor and disconnected lights (except spiral stairwell)


St James' Day - so the bells are now 136 years old! They were officially dedicated this day in 1877.


Fine tuning work on the final approach to removal of bells in mid-August.


Bell chimes for Sunday service for the last time until after the restoraton.
Last bell ropes removed for safe keeping, and water pipe inspected to determine whether lead or copper (fortunately it is copper).


Furniture, carpets, peal boards, boxes, lecturn, old ropes, odds-n-ends, and a large amout of rubbish is removed from the tower, and labelled wood for recycling in belfry.
Andy Pollock and outstanding support from Dalton ringer Carl Hallows which was truly appreciated!


TOWER TOURS - Final tower tours before restoration work commences.

Excellent publicity in NW Evening Mail, Barrow Council Website and BBC Radio Cumbria just before 6pm

St Perran's Scouts - click for slightly larger image

Furness Camera Club get early tour at 7pm and opportunity to photograph bells.
We look forward to seeing some of the creative and skilful results.
See furness camera club flickr account for some impressive photos of other subjects.

Photographer Andrew Rose (see www.andrew-rose.co.uk) also visited, and generously made a donation and offered to set up and take 360° virtual tour photographs in ringing room, new belfry, and louvre level (old belfry), when the restoration work is complete.

The Scouts from the 17th Barrow (St Perran's) Scout Group came along and learned about bellringing and St James bells and had a go at chiming even the 800kg tenor!
They also held an investiture ceremony in the grounds of the church for a number of Scouts that had made the transition from Cubs to Scouts.



SCAFFOLDING MEETING - Meeting at St James' Church Tower to discuss plans for scaffolding and associated start-up considerations
Cumbria Design Scaffold (John Ross), Leck Construction (Andrew Murphy and Tony Shaw), Craig & Meyer Architects (Malcolm Craig), St James Bellringers (Andy Pollock)



June 2013


Tower Tour for local resident and couple getting married in September 2014


Meeting of St James PCC Bells Appeal Steering Committee


Jon Hering from Octopus music art organisation, came to St James and collected a specially selected and wrapped box of 28 of the tower collection of 77 Handbells dating from 1870!



An audience of nearly 100 people enjoyed a Summer Evening Concert of Choral, Brass Band, and Organ music at St James’ Church in Barrow-in-Furness.

The evening began with a 10 minute presentation about the history, deterioration, and restoration of the bells.

This was followed by performances before and after the interval from the Barrow Male Voice Choir, and the Dalton Town Band.
The choir performed a varied programme with from traditional spiritual to a medley of songs made famous by Frank Sinatra, plus a song titled ‘Short Leg, Long Leg, Silly mid-off’ illuminating the world of cricket to the uninitiated!
The brass band performed pieces including ‘The quiet village’ from Devon fantasy that featured music that was reminiscent of change ringing bells, and a clock chime. There were excellent solo performances by James Madden, Alice Trainer, & Simon Garnett. A Lady GaGa number (Bad Romance) was enthusiastically received by all ages in the audience!

At the start of the second half, the impressive William Hill organ that was formerly installed at St James’ Palace in London (and played at the wedding ceremony of Queen Victoria to Prince Albert) was played in fine style by Mark Latimer.

It was a wonderful evening of musical entertainment from start to finish, followed by a short tour of the tower for a dozen people from the audience, choir & band.

The tickets raised £444, and a raffle of a signed print by celebrated local artist John Duffin (donated by Carl and Rachel Hallows), along with a bottle of ‘house of commons’ whisky donated by our MP John Woodcock, raised a further £96.
In addition £82 was raised from the sale of a number of items that had been produced from the elm headstock of the 4th bell by the Furness Woodturners and Woodcrafts Association.

A selection of photographs have been added to PHOTO GALLERY 9 - Concerts at St James - Summer 2013

NW Evening Mail Article published 6th July

May 2013

Saturday & Monday4 & 6



Photos of first and last towers of open days.

Full report and selection of images can be found on GALLERY 8 - Photographs from the Branch Open Days in early May 2013

The gallery also has link to Flickr extended gallery from the weekend, and a slideshow


April 2013


North West Evening Mail - Bellringers appeal for new recruits to learn the ropes.

Article printed on page 3 of the North West Evening Mail
Seeking to interest local people to learn how to ring bells, and invite them to get contact or come along to meet ringers and see and even chime the bells at an open day session this Saturday, 45 minutes starting 6.15 and finishing 7pm at St James.

Online Article (no longer available on NW Evening Mail website):



A meeting with representatives from:

  • Parochial Church Council (PCC)
  • Construction Design & Management (CDM) co-ordinator.
  • Church Architect
  • Leck Construction Ltd (Building & Principal Contractor)
  • Nicholsons Engineering Ltd (Specialist Bell-Hangers)
  • St James' Bell Ringers
The meeting was held to discuss matters associated with launching the restoration work, following Heritage Lottery Fund grant award.

The meeting was constructive, and various actions were raised, that need to be resolved early on.
The schedule for the work would involve work between July and November, during this period some areas of the church and grounds will be treated as a building site with all the necessary access restrictions to protect contractors, visitors and the general public from any danger.


BBC1 Breakfast - Look North - Local News

Brief news item about St James' Bells and HLF grant - shown just before 07:30 and earlier. Pity not repeated in later bulletins.


BBC Website - BBC Cumbria News "Barrows St James' Church bells to ring again"


BBC Radio Cumbria

Neil Smith reports from St James' Tower on the Richard Corrie's Sunday Breakfast show (approx 2 hours and 13 mins into programme) iPlayer expires after 1 week


Sandblasting Tower Doors, removing varnish from wood and rust from ironwork.


North West Evening Mail - Ding dong merrily on high in time for Christmas

Article printed on page 5 of the North West Evening Mail

Online article (no longer available on NW Evening Mail website)


BBC Radio Cumbria - Emma Borthwick on the News Hour speaks to Geoff about the HLF Grant (approx 25 mins into programme)
iPlayer expires after 1 week


St James' Churchwarden has been put forward for non-ringing Honorary Life Member of the Lancashire Association of Change Ringers.

The Monthly Meeting of the Furness & South Lakeland Branch was held today at Holy Trinity Church in Chapel Stile, Langdale.
At this meeting Andy Pollock proposed that that honorary life membership of the Association be granted to Brenda Pearce the Barrow Churchwarden, in accordance with LACR Rule 3, in recognition of her extraordinary and tireless contribution to the church, and in particular for being instrumental and key advocate of our current campaign to restore the bells of St James, Barrow-in-Furness.
This motion was seconded and unanimously carried by those present at the meeting.

This now goes forward to the LACR committee, who will meet at the LACR AGM at the end of this month. Congratulations Brenda!

Just a couple of the problems with the tower door before repairs

Tower Door Repairs
There were several problems with the tower door that needed urgent attention. Repairs to the masonry and door hinges were undertaken at the end of this week.


Furness Woodturning and Woodcrafts Association

Furness Woodturning and Woodcrafts Association committee members are presented with the first piece of wood from the bell restoration project.

The photograph shows committee members Peter, Brian, and Will, with the Elm Headstock from the 4th bell St James' Church

The club will recycle and transform crude pieces of well seasoned wood into beautiful objects (bowls, light pulls, pens, bell shaped objects etc).
We are looking forward to seeing the product of their skill and craftmanship, and hope to be able to sell items to raise money for the bell restoration appeal.

This is the first delivery of wood, and we expect to be able to deliver substantial quantity of other wood once the physical restoration has started, and the bells have been removed from the tower.
The greatest quantity of wood is likely to be Oak from the frame, although some particularly large pieces might be sold to a reclamation yard.

OAKFrame, Wheel Spokes, slider?
MAHOGANY?Pulley Wheels

March 2013


The Heritage Lottery Fund bringing Bells back to Barrow!

There was an Easter present for St James' Church when the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) announced a grant of £74,400 for the restoration of St James' bells.

The eight bells have been out of action since the turn of the century because severe corrosion has made it unsafe.

£79,000 has already been raised or promised locally. Volunteers will help the specialist bell-hanger as a practical way of meeting the costs. Work will start as soon as the specialist contractors can get under way.

The project will start with trap ways made in the floors of the tower for the bells to be winched down one by one and the timber frame removed. The oak bell frame was constructed by Mr Thomas Mallaby of Masham in 1877 - good parts of it will be used for making mementoes. The eight bells were cast by John Warner of Cripplegate, London weighing in total 3½ tons, the largest weighs ¾ ton (800 kg). While the bell-hangers have the bells cleaned, local builders Leck Construction, will be removing rotten floors, fixing special material to keep the storms from pouring water into the belfry and cutting pockets in the brickwork for a new frame to be installed half way up the tower.

The bells will be cleaned of 136 years of debris and corrosion and re-tuned at the Whitechapel Foundry in London - Britain's oldest continuous business.
The bell-hanger will also make a new galvanised fabricated frame. It will be winched up into the tower in sections and bolted together before the bells with their new ringing fittings are raised into their new cosier home.

To let the bells sound from their new location, the floor above them will be made of metal mesh so the music flows up and out.

The Rev John Hodgkinson, Team Vicar of St James comments: "The HLF grant means that we can get the project started years earlier than we dared to hope. When we found water pouring into the tower and more rotten floors than expected, we had a real setback but the HLF grant has let us deal with it all at the same time. We look forward to hearing the bells ring for Christmas."

There will be a variety of learning opportunities during the work in the tower and afterwards. St James' Church of England Junior School will be especially well placed to take part. New recruits will be needed to learn to ring the bells. They will ring so easily that children from about age 10 will be able to join in. There are only 3 bell towers within 10 miles drive of St James - the nearest is at Dalton-in- Furness.

We are now looking for new volunteers to learn ringing, and join our friendly group of local ringers.
If you are interested in having a go at bell-ringing... please contact tower captain (see Contact Us page).

Visit from Jon Hering

Jon Hering is a composer who is involved with Octopus Collective, and will be writing music to perform in St James' Church on 27th July 2013 for their 'Full of Noises Festival' which will use the handbells from the tower.

Jon visited with some others involved in Octopus to examine the handbells, and was also given a tour of the church bells. They seemed impressed by both the handbells, and the bells in the belfry. Jon wondered whether there would be scope to chime any of the tower bells in the performance, to which the answer is yes for two of our bells (2nd - ladies, or 8th - tenor). However this cannot be guaranteed, because they will be unavailable once restoration work has begun (tower will be out of bounds - declared a building site - and bells may have been removed).

Jon wanted to know if they would be able to borrow the handbells to practice the piece he creates. This request will need to go before the PCC once Jon can identify which bells he wants to use/borrow, and with appropriate measures taken to insure and protect the bells during any loan (e.g. packing for transport, security measures, and insured against any damage or loss).

We have now catalogued the handbells with their pitches and tabulated these pitches.
At at the next convenient opportunity, we intend to sort handbells into pitch order, and double-check condition so that Jon is aware which handbells have missing or damaged handles/clappers.

In the mean time Jon has produced a keyboard map indicating which notes are available, and how true-to pitch they are:

Green=Correct Pitch, Yellow=Marginally off-pitch, Red=Off Pitch, White/Black=Missing.

L to R: Glenn Boulter, John Hall, Jon Hering, Ryoko Akama.

Glenn & John are directors of Octopus, and Jon & Ryoko are artists in residence with Octopus.

  Scheduled to have drainpipe repair inside tower. Builder has inspected and is due to repair/replace early in March...

February 2013

Wednesday27Carlisle Diocese Grant Faculty!

The application for a faculty (permission) to do the planned restoration work to the bells and their installation has been granted.

Work is to be completed within 12 months, i.e. before 27th February 2014, and hopefully earlier so that the bells can be rung to celebrate Christmas.

So now we need to complete fundraising so that we can get the restoration work started as soon as possible.

Fundraising continues...

  • Awaiting a decision from the Heritage Lottery Fund (expected around Easter)
  • Bell ringing open days across the Furness and South Lakeland Branch (from Millom to Kirkby Stephen)
    organised for the May Day bank holiday weekend, with proceeds going to Barrow and Ulverston restoration projects.
  • Concert in the summer, provisionally earmarked for Friday 28th June (see calendar).
    Hoping to have music from the Church Organ, Barrow Male Voice Choir, and Dalton Town Band.
  • Looking into grants from Co-op, Dong Energy, and the Lake District Farmers Armstrong Family Charitable Fund (the monthly giveaway promoted by the NW Evening Mail)

Octopus Collective (www.octopuscollective.org)
Andrew Deakin and family come to catalogue and record handbells so that composer & artist can assess potential and some work can be commissioned.

Still not quite sure what to expect, but intrigued, and along for the ride!
Hope we'll at least end up knowing a lot more about the pitches of the handbells and whether we can make some sort of musical set from them

January 2013

Wednesday16Heritage Lottery Fund application formally submitted (paper copy of online submission along with supplementary sheets)
Faculty application notices have also recently been displayed/posted up at church.

Online submission of detailed application to the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Geoff Pullin has spent a great deal of time and effort in producing this application and deserves our thanks, and a well earned rest!

Thanks to everyone else who has made contribution to the bid, including those who wrote gracious letters of support:
    Angela Rawlinson (headmistress St James' CE Jnior School),
    John Woodcock MP,
    Cllr Wendy Maddox (Mayor of Barrow-in-Furness)
    Eddie Richards (District Commissioner for Scouting for S.W Lakes Scout District),
    David Burgess (President LACR),
    Jonathan Lee (Editor of the North West Evening Mail)

Thanks to everyone providing the technical content
    Malcolm Craig (architect),
    Andrew Nicholson (specialist bellhanger),
    Andrew Murphy (building contractor),
    Derek Forrest (electrician).

Finally thanks to Rebecca Mason - Heritage Lottery Fund advisor in Manchester - for her assistance and encouragement

Let's hope we are successful and are ideally awarded enough to get the restoration work underway! Fingers-Crossed!

We intend to keep the everyone informed over the coming months, with progress updates and presentations etc.

  • PROGRESS REPORTS: Report restoration progress in local newspaper and radio, and on St James' website. Also report to ringing fraternity in newsletters, newspapers and websites.
  • DISPLAY GALLERY: Display photographs and other information about the project and bellringing on presentation boards inside the church.
  • PRESENTATIONS: Provide talks to local community and special interest groups. If you would like us to come to your group and explain all about the project and bellringing, then please get in touch!
  • TOURS: There will be several informative tours of the tower and photo opportunities, before and after the restoration. Opportunities will be advertised in local newspaper and radio.

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