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Save the Bells!

Dianne Boardman

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GlossopGlossop Parish ChurchWhitfieldDintingAll SaintsOld GlossopGlossopdaleChurch Bells

After ringing out every Sunday morning for over 300 years, the bells of Glossop Parish Church are in need of a major professional refurbishment.  With bells falling silent across the area – Whitfield is not often rung these days and Dinting is unsafe to do so and Mottram is also at risk – All Saint’s in Old Glossop is the only church in Glossopdale still to ring their bells every single Sunday morning. 

Bells

An appeal has been launched to raise the necessary £33,000 to fund professional repairs to the bells and also clean and preserve the historic peals and alms boards in the tower that date from the 1700s.  This money would also provide training and a practice facility for bell-ringers and the recruiting of some new ones to a traditional art dating back 400 years. Practice nights and other events have been staged to promote this, including a ‘Learners’ Practice” with one-to-one tuition on a silenced bell.  All you need to bell-ring, apparently, is an ability to climb the narrow stairs, a willingness to have a go and quite a bit of patience!

All Saint’s has eight bells and the heaviest bell (the tenor) weighs more than 17 cwt (863.6 kg).  These bells have seen over a hundred years of use. There is a great history to them too.  There was originally a separate bell-house in the churchyard but in 1709 six bells were installed in the church tower with two new bells added when it was rebuilt in 1854.  The whole ring was recast in 1923 and these are the bells that are rung today.  The Peal Boards in the ringing gallery commemorate famous ringing feats and provide historical records of community life dating back to the American Civil War.  The proposed repairs would ensure the bells go on ringing for another hundred years and enable the Peal Boards to be displayed to the public with interpretation materials and ringing promotion events.

Residents have rallied around to see that this heritage is not lost.  Organiser Derek Marbeck told me that he has been amazed by the response and strength of feeling.

“I hadn’t realized there was so much interest and affectionate regard for the bells.” He said.  “People have come forward and said they’d had them at their wedding and wanted others to be able to do so, or how much they love hearing them ring out.  We have had lots of small donations as well as larger ones from businesses and groups.  We hope they will only be silenced for a short while after Easter for repairs.  We do have some offers of grants too, but most of these funds will only be available once the work has actually been completed so we are having to find the money as we go along.” They have also applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund and passed the initial vetting, but there is still a long way in this process. 

Bells

For more information or to help fundraising or to join the Thursday practice night contact Derek on 01457 861644.   For information on Learner Practice contact Chris on 0161 338 4905 or 07810 560796 or e-mail: christinebroadley@mottramparish.org.uk. 

To donate towards the professional refurbishment of the bells: Donate online at:  mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/oldglossopbellringers, or send a cheque payable to 'Glossop Parish Church' marking the back 'Bell Repair Fund' to Old Glossop Bellringers, C/o 11 Birchside Ave, Glossop, SK13 7BW.