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Friday, 11 March 2016

Like the Clappers!

Morwenstow Parish Church

When I am not out and about looking at wildlife, I spend some of my time ringing church bells.
Thursday is bellringing practice night at Morwenstow Parish Church.  Last night, we were five plus one new ringer.  We rang five bells up and had a peal then brought them back down again for practice for our competition next week.  Pete, our new learner then had a guided session learning how to handle the rope.

The second time round, we began ringing the bells up again when we heard a loud thud from above in the bell chamber.  I said, “That’s the sound down dropped down.”  “No,” replied the Tower Captain, “it’s still up.”  Then there was a second lesser thud.  I said, 
“I think we had better set the bells and go up and have a look.”
Morwenstow Bell Ringers

As we were still only halfway to ringing the bells up, my rope jumped out of my hands, taking my fingertips with it, and the rope and bell swung wildly out of control.

We all thought I had broken the stay, but as the bell was still on its way up and nowhere near the stay, it just did not seem right.  Everyone else set their bells; the Tower Captain took the opportunity to show our learner the bell chamber and they both climbed the steps to the tower.  Meanwhile, the remainder of us set about untangling the rope from the guides around which it had wrapped itself.
The Clapper and bolt
The pair descended after some little time with the clapper of my bell and its fixing bolt in their hands.  The bolt had sheared inside the bell allowing the clapper to fall – the first thud, followed by the long bolt and nuts – the second thud.

As this happened, the rope had jumped off the wheel, hence the sudden whipping away of the rope rather than as a result of a broken stay, allowing the bell to swing uncontrollably.

The pieces have gone to a local metalworker to fashion a new bolt so that the clapper can be re-attached.

It could have been worse.  The bolt could have lasted until Tuesday when three other teams of bellringers join us for the final leg of our Winter Competition.  But, if the bell is not repairable before then, we may have to relocate to another tower.

[The bolt goes through the Gudgeon into the bell and attaches to the swinging arm from which the clapper hanges in the centre of the bell]
Anatomy of a Bell

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