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Barrow Bells - Tower News Archive for 2014

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 2014

Tuesday16NW Evening Mail Carol Service - Ringing photos courtesy of Jo Sweeney
19  21  20

November 2014

Sunday23Ringing for Confirmation Service - including Baptism & Confirmation of one of our younger ringers

October 2014


Dalton and friends ringing outing Whittington, Gargrave, KirkbyMasham, and Giggleswick

Some fascinating churches, ground floor ring at Whittington in a 16th century tower, lunch at the Craven Heifer (one of several in the area it turns out), and Kirkby Malham with glass galleried ringing room overlooking the church which had connections to Cromwell. At Giggleswick there was a dipper that seemed unconcerned by people walking just a few yards away. All-in-all a very enjoyable day was had by all.

Some of the photos taken by Jo Sweeney and Andy Pollock with many more on Jo's blog

Ringing at Kirkby Malham, looking through glass archway into nave of church  Tower Captain Stan Walmsley stood outside the Craven Heifer pub for lunch  Alan Dewar and Andy Pollock sup a welcome pint  Group Photo at Giggleswick at the end of the day


Great Urswick augmentation re-dedication:

P1190449_web  P1190424_web  P1190436_web
P1190440_web  P1190455_web  P1190459_web
P1190468_webP1190464_web  P1190463_web  P1190462_web

September 2014


Local ringers from towers in Furness came together to ring for Evensong at St James.
In addition to calling members of the parish to the service, there were some significant achievements for the band (see quarter peal footnotes).
After a couple of practice starts, we began the quarter an hour before the service, and the quarter settled down quite quickly to some good striking and rhythm. Everyone was concentrating and there were very few mistakes or hesitations. Well done everyone.

Lancashire Association of Change Ringers
St James the Great, Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria
Sunday, 28 September 2014 in 51 mins (12-0-24)
1260 Grandsire Triples
1*Rachel Hallows
2Stanley Walmsley
3Jacqueline Preston
4Ann S Thompson
5Alan Dewar
6*Owen B Osmotherley
7*J Andrew Pollock (C)
8Carl Hallows
First Quarter Peal of Triples: 1
First Quarter Peal of Triples Inside: 6
First Quarter Peal as Conductor: 7


Repeat Twice

August 2014

Friday15Branch Striking Competition, held at Holy Trinity Church in Brathay.
NWEM Article - Striking Competition 2014  Dalton Team

JoSweeney blog about striking competition 2014 at Brathay

July 2014

& Sunday
26 & 27

Bell Handling Training Course.

NW Evening Mail article and phototographs in Gallery 11

Three exceptionally constructive sessions introducing several people of all ages (including a NWEM reporter) to ringing church bells, with help from Doug Beaumont, Dennis Ellisdon, Geoff and Carole Pullin

P1180479_web  P1180491e_web  P1180499_web



The first full peal on the restored bells was successfully rung with an invited band representing some of the stakeholders in the restoration project.

The date was chosen as it was the anniversary of the inaugural peal on the bells in 1877, that was rung by a band invited from Earlesheaton (near Dewsbury in Yorkshire) especially for the dedication of the bells.

While the bells were being rung, Andrew Deakin from the Octopus Collective (an arts council supported audio art project) recorded and streamed the full peal (almost 3 hours) on the internet with listeners on the other side of the world!

P1180467_web P1180469_web
Felsted PB-ID = 047-279; RW 5389.0813
On Friday, 25 July 2014
in 2 hours and 49 minutes
A peal of 5056 Cambridge Surprise Major
Composition: C Middleton (Johnson variation)
1Simon D WoofLACR Vice President
2Dennis Ellisdon*Benefactor and former Barrow ringer (learned to ring at Barrow in 1950's)
3J Andrew PollockTower Captain
4Thomas F MetcalfeRepresenting Furness & South Lakeland branch of LACR
5John J ProudfootRepresenting CDGCBR (Carlisle Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers)
6Simon J PooleCo-Representing LACR (Lancashire Association of Change Ringers)
7Douglas J BeaumontGrandson of James E Burles (former long serving Tower Captain)
8Joseph St J Beaumont(C)Grandson of James E Burles (former long serving Tower Captain)
The first peal on the restored bells,
rung on the anniversary of the very first peal on St James' Day in 1877
* 400th Peal

A 30 second sample of the peal is available to listen to below, taken from the first 10 minutes

June 2014

Friday27Brisbane Park Infant School from further down Blake Street come to learn about the bells.

They were exceptionally well behaved and very interested with LOTS of great questions!

It was lovely to receive letters from each of the children saying what they thought of their outing to St James' Bell Tower. Here are just a few:

Thank you for showing us the bells of St James Church. I liked the bells being rung. It was so cool. I liked wearing the ear muffs when we were looking over them.

Thank you for letting us listen to the bells and showing us how to pull the bells. How does the big wheel turn around. The big bells are heavy. The green net will catch the rain.

Thank you for showing us the bell. I loved the noise. I heard the big bells It was beautiful

Thank you for letting us go up to the top of the church. I liked the bells. When we put earphones on when we looked down at the bells it looked scary but fun. Also I liked it when the bell did a noise. It was a pretty noise. I had ear ache.

Thank you for showing us the bells of St James Church. I liked going up the stone steps. They go round and round.

Thank you for coming and showing some pictures. I like when we went up the spiral staircase to hear the bells! The bells make a nice tune. I learned about when the bells tipped over then it stayed still. I liked when we looked down at the bells. I like when we went down the spiral stairs.

Saturday21John and Lindsay of Clean & Shine are very kind to let me take photographs of St James from the top of their cherry-picker, which could reach all the way up to the ringing room windows!
This gave much better views of the church and less leaning vertical lines that occur when you have to tilt a camera lens up (or down) at a building. See the results below:
P1180266_web P1180288_web
Sunday15P1180170_web  P1180173_web  P1180171_web
Orchids abound in the grounds of the church.

May 2014

P1180027_web Visiting Band of ringers from Badby, near Daventry in Northamptonshire came to ring our bells for 45 minutes between 2 and 2.45pm.
Among them (and prime organiser) was Geoff and Carole Pullin who so selflessly gave up years of time and effort in getting St James bells ringing again.
It was great to be able to welcome them with all their other ringers to enjoy the sound (and sight) of the bells being rung.

An Environment Protection Officer visited St James at lunchtime, and contacted Andy Pollock who was able to meet up a few minutes later.

Unfortunately someone had contacted the Environment Agency to complain about the ringing of the bells ringing more than normal, and claiming they were also very loud.
Apparently ringing on Saturday 26th April had been mentioned specifically, and other days there had been random ringing outside of Wednesday practice night and Sunday Service.

The EPO wanted to speak to someone at the church to find out more about when the bells are rung, and to find out whether the ringing in question was part of a more regular pattern of ringing or one-off's.

Andy Pollock pointed out we take any complaint seriously, and have tried to make sure we do not disturb the neighbouring residents unnecessarily. The Saturday in question had the following ringing sessions:

  • Wedding Ringing: approx. 30 minutes before, and 20 minutes after
  • LACR AGM: 45 minutes ringing starting 3.15pm before service of evensong, and followed the meeting there was 45 minutes of ringing finishing at 8pm.
Weddings are more regular occurances, especially on Saturdays, but the LACR AGM was a special one-off event.
Other weddings, funerals, visiting bands and ringing events will occasionally occur and are part of the life of the church in the community.
All planned ringing is announced on the calendar/events page of the tower website (www.barrowbells.org.uk), and the longer ringing events are also usually notified by leaflets and through local media (though they are at liberty to ignore or publish/broadcast as they choose)

On the occasion of the Wedding and LACR AGM ringing on the 26th August, we had informed the local newspaper of the ringing for the LACR AGM, and earlier on the day we had leafletted the houses immediately facing the church on Blake Street, Hartington Street and Adelaide Street to announce ringing for both LACR AGM and wedding events.

The EPO's attention was also brought to the fact there was a visiting band due to ring for 45 minutes this saturday afternoon at 2pm, and at the end of July a full peal lasting up to 3 hours would be rung on Fri 25th July on the anniversary of the dedication of the bells on St James' day 1877 (also the first ever peal that was rung on the same day).

April 2014


This was a big day for St James' bells.

To start with there was the first wedding ringing this century! to celebrate the marriage of Aaron Steven Palmer and Samantha Jane Edmondson. Congratulations!
We had a number of visiting ringers to help ring the bells due to another wedding at St Mary's in Dalton at the same time preventing us from supporting each other's tower.
So we were very grateful for the assistance of the Fr Martin Daniels, and Simon Woof (President and VP of LACR no less), and Rob & Ann Pettifor from Whittington, Ann Thompson from Broughton-in-Furness, to help our own ringers Alan Jones, Jo Sweeney and Andy Pollock.
Ringing as normal for 30mins prior to the scheduled service time, and few minutes for any delayed entrance of the bride, and 15 to 20 minutes after the wedding.


In the afternoon St James was honoured to host the final ringing and Annual General Meeting for the Lancashire Association of Change Ringers (on behalf of the Furness & South Lakeland Branch of the LACR).

  • There was 45 minutes ringing from 3.15pm prior to the service of evensong at 4pm. Frank Anderton was 'volunteered' by everyone else in the ringing room to be ringing master for the session, and was kind enough to accept. Thank you Frank.
  • Rev John Hodgkinson took the service of evensong, and several ringers joined the choir who gave up their time to make the service one to remember. Thanks also to Mark Latimer for organising the music and playing the fine organ.
  • Tea was a well recieved... the pies were yummy! and provided by Deli.sh run by a young couple who fabulously volunteered (on the spur of the moment) to give up an hour of their own time to serve their food to help out. Thank you!
    Chips from Matties and homemade braised red cabbage with ginger and pine nuts to accompany the other trimmings! Pudding was Lathams gateau :D
    Thanks to Brenda, Shelagh, Dorothy and everyone else who helped to serve and then clear up and wash up a mountain of pots!
  • The AGM followed at 6pm chaired by LACR President Fr Martin Daniels, with other officers at the tables erected between pews and choir stalls, and meeting attendees in the first 10 rows of pews.
  • Finally the day was rounded off with some ringing from about 7.15pm that concluded at 8pm, and was run by our branch ringing master Hilary Atkinson.

Furness College Students: Rob Lewis, Nathan Hughes, and Michael Hibbert, under tutelage of Jonny Williams, came to shoot some video interviews at St James' church, and in the ringing chamber and belfry.
These interviews will be edited and included in a video documentary about the bell restoration, that they are doing as part of their final projects.

Our thanks must go to Stan Walmsey, Robbie Bown, Carl & Rachel Hallows with their daughter Katherine, Hugh Pettifer, Brenda Pearce, and Andy Pollock, for making time to come down for the interviews, and for everyone's patience.

We are looking forward to the finished result which we plan to lodge with the Barrow records office, and make available at the church.

Sunday20Easter Sunday Service ringing unfortunately too many people away, or attending other services, so first Sunday Service where the chiming system was used.
Sunday13Service ringing reveals the dramatic improvement to the sound of the bells inside the ringing room - Fantastic!
Hugh completes removal of the underboarding, refitting of the ceiling boss's to the 2" thick pine floor boards now revealed, and painting of the galvanised joist hangers. Completed just in time to make a hasty trip to Millom which was hosting the branch half yearly meeting. P1170730_web

Andrew Nicholson arrives with his daughter to put right the 7th, to stop a large piece of swarth from making a noise inside the headstock. Also fine adjustments to the chiming system hammers to ensure consistant striking.

Hugh Pettifer builds scaffold tower in ringing room while foam cures in 7th, and proceeds to start removing the plywood underboarding to test improvement (if any) to the sound in the ringing room

Sunday6Alan Dewar and Andy Pollock investigate noise eminating from 7th bell.

March 2014


Public Open Day


Less than two weeks after the rededication, Barrow had an open day to show members of the public the fantastic set of bells now restored at St James.
In addition to the live video feed of the bells, a video produced by Furness College showing some of the footage from the removal and return of the bells was shown on repeat all day.
Refreshments were available, plus wooden items hand crafted from the old bell frame on show/for sale.

The display boards with information about ringing were complimented by Geoff Holme’s fantastic display of archive photos and material relating to the church and the original tower log book and some old photographs were also made available to visitors.

Andy Pollock took visitors on tours up the tower to learn about bellringing, and watch the bells being rung from above. Some also had a go at ringing the 3rd. Each tour seemed to take longer as Andy remembered something new to tell the visitors! No sooner was one tour nearing completion than another group had gathered and was waiting their turn. Lunch was postponed until after the last tour!


Overall, the day was a great success, with approx. 50 or more visitors, and Andy's enthusiasm seemed to rub-off from some of the comments that were left:

  • “What an impressive feat to preserve the bells; a lovely thing for the heritage of barrow”
  • “A wonderful experience and a joy to see”
  • “Fantastic. Andy’s talk was really interesting and informative. Noticed the open day by accident + very glad I did!”
  • “Great to finally see the bells in place & also to see the old records”
  • “Very interesting. Glad I took the opportunity to come & see/hear/ring the bells!”
  • “Brought back memories from over 30 years ago, going bell ringing with Grandad. He would be very proud of what you have all done. Thank you.

The icing on the cake was that we have had two of the people who came along to the open day express interest in learning to ring at Barrow, and both came the following practice, and quickly and easily got to grips with tail stroke. This now makes 6 new learners (although have seen one for a couple of weeks).

Thanks must go to everyone who helped on the day Brenda and Shelagh for welcoming visitors and serving refreshments, Geoff Holme for his display, and in the tower Robbie who came and had another practice ring and demonstrate to the visitors how we teach ringing, plus Andy Painter, Frazer Smith, Stephen Metcalfe, Alan Dewar, and especially Jo Sweeney who gave up the whole day to help!

First Service Ringing of the restored bells, in fact the first service ringing of the bells this century! P1170568_web



The big day arrives, along with Rt Revd James Newcome (Bishop of Carlisle) and various dignitories and representatives of grant awarding bodies, and the general public.

The day flies by - everything runs smoothly, and everyone seems very pleased by the outcome of the restoration and the rededication service.

WavyGrain craftsman Martyn Whittaker presents the tower with a commemorative candle holder (with Wax Lyrical candle) made from a section of the old oak frame and inscribed with the message "St James' Bells Re-dedicated 09/03/2014"

MORE PHOTOS - see Gallery 10 and NW Evening Mail Gallery 11

The day is rounded off with a successful quarter peal of 1260 changes of Grandsire Triples in 48 minutes

  1. Alan M Dewar
  2. Geoff Pullin
  3. Hugh F Pettifer
  4. Carole Pullin
  5. Dennis Ellisdon (c)
  6. J Andrew Pollock
  7. Joseph Beaumont
  8. Owen B Osmotherley

Published on Campanophile

The quarter team 9-03-14_web
Friday7Carpet fitting is completed
Thursday6Carpet fitter Steve Cooksey begins fitting carpet from Empire Carpets
P1170540 Working party including Jo Sweeney, Alan Dewar, Alan Jones, and Andy Pollock paint ringing room gloss-work before carpet is due to be fitted.

February 2014

Swan Alarms director Pete Brocklebank fits and sets to work the live video feed cameras in the ringing room and belfry. DSC00047_web

Stately Gates install the new handrail in the stairwell as far as the ringing room.

Great attendance at practice night after the storms of the week before!

Saturday15Fixed Heritage Lottery Fund plaque above the door to the spiral staircase.
Thursday13Flookburgh visit for 8-bell basic combined practice (Barrow/Dalton/Ulverston), and sized up and started removal of the Branch 6 bell Simulator
FIRST PRACTICE! A new era for the bells, church and community starts with the first practice night ringing despite the worst storm for years that the met-office classified at most severe category of 'red weather warning'! - see BBC News Report 1002381_10151980935158131_2009096871_web

January 2014


We are very grateful to Travis Perkins who kindly donate a set of spanners required to maintain the frame and fittings in the belfry.

Electrician has also completed a fire warning alarm & light, and the extra bright emergency light above the ringing room door in case of power cut when ringing at night.

Rain coming in through masonry on higher reaches of the spiral stairwell, and running down wall behind the upstand of the galebreaker trays. Lead flashing should sort the latter when fitted.

P1170470 composite_web

Dimplex heaters are fitted either side of the ringing room. A loose section of floor is replaced by a more secure better fitting hatch by the West window. Roofers come in to line the Galebreaker drip trays with fibreglass/resin ready we hope for the wet weather predicted tomorrow.


Day dawns for final preparations to test ring of all the bells at 3pm. Scaffold is removed at last, stays and clappers fixed, ropes get attached to wheels from 2pm... it's running to the wire!

3pm arrives and bells are rung up, but 2nd stay is just a bit too long and needs shortening to miss the staircase wall. 7th catches on edge and needs slight adjustment. Around 3.30pm we manage to have a volunteer band of ringers with Dennis Ellisdon who has made a day trip by train arriving 2.30 and leaving after 6pm.

Quite a few gather outside, and in the ringing room to enjoy the sound of the restored bells. The sound inside is perhaps a little low, and the rope noise is a little too loud. Some minor adjustments need to be made over the coming weeks to make the sound inside the ringing room sound as glorious as it does outside.

Media are out in force, Neil Smith does live broadcast for BBC Radio Cumbria with Geoff Pullin underneath the treble at the start of the day in anticipation of first ring, and follows up with recorded interviews with Andy Pollock is broadcast later that afternoon, and early the following morning.
NW Evening mail has Jon Granger taking photos, and Annabel Howard reporting. The only non-show was BBC NW Tonight, but we may get them for the re-dedication service.

The volunteers retire to the Furness Railway for a social gathering after the days events, a bite to eat (Scottish/Burns theme), and a well deserved beverage!


Nearly all fixtures complete including sliders, and treble stay. Finished with final hole drilled through floors, and ceiling bosses all fixed to underside of ringing room ceiling. Scaffold can now be removed.


Attention moves to fixtures (e.g. pulley blocks, running boards, wheels etc) and rope holes.


Last two bells (Tenor then 5th) reach belfry and are fitted into position. Meanwhile the electrician continues to set up wiring, including moving a socket out of the way of gallows end of the 2nd.


Massive Progress! 4 more bells (1, 2, 3, and 4) are hoisted plus frame sides and lower half of wheel, and fitted in place. Despite interruptions from photographers (Jon Granger of NW Evening Mail, and Andy Pollock!)


First bell up is the 6th, followed by 7th (6th is pictured)


Last day for bells at ground level! Phil Dunnet has arrived ready to begin work raising the bells and fitting frame from tomorrow


New door is fitted to the belfry, and is likened to a 'hobbit hole'!


Steeplejack attaches lightning conductor to grillage


Shuttering and sleeves have already been removed and concrete trimmed back at the top to the brickwork. Drainpipe has been reconnected in the corner and just fits between wall and grillage.


Leck Construction set about concreting the main beam and grillage frame ends into the walls. Grillage nclosest to South and North walls has to be temporarily slid aside to give access to concrete main beam ends. Afterwards they are repositioned and bolted down and concreted in too.


Steeplejack arrives from Blackburn to fix ladders ready for opportunity following week to attach lightening conducters to the frame/grillage.

Shuttering is completed ready for concrete


Phil Dunnett gives the headstocks another coat of red-paint, and Leck Construction support grillage frame ends on engineering brick, sleeve the holes for the lightening conductors, and make plywood shuttering ready to pour concrete the following week.


Leck Construction enlarge main beam pockets in the walls, and volunteers hoist up all the grillage, and assemble, fit beam ends into wall pockets, square off and level the foundation beam and grillage assembly - by the end of the day


Bells and bell-frame arrive!

Geoff Pullin features on BBC Radio Cumbria interview with Neil Smith

Volunteers Alan Dewar, Hugh Pettifer, Keith and Cliff Newby, Geoff Pullin all help bell-hanger Phil Dunnett to unload the truck, and the bells are all lined up in the south aisle by mid-morning, and two main foundation beams have been hoisted into the new belfry by close of play.


Andy Pollock, Alan Dewar, Jo Sweeney, Alan Jones, and Owen Osmotherley painted a second coat of paint on all walls of the new belfry. This time it was Earthborn Emulsion which the manufacturer assured would bond to the Claypaint and be just as breathable (though the colour would be a brighter white)

In the afternoon Andy and the two Alans managed to complete second coat on lower half of the ringing room (and repainted part of the upper west wall)

The volunteers made the decorating of the inside of the tower possible, and we are very grateful for their sacrifice of time and effort during the Christmas period.

Now it just remains to paint the woodwork (wood panelling and door, benches, cupboards, boxes and writing slope) with undercoat and gloss paint. This can wait until period when concrete at frame ends is curing, or during February (after bells rehung)

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