Tower Project – history and progress

At the PCC meeting on 18 November 2021, Ashley reported on attending the recent ringers’ AGM at which, inter alia, the following had been reported:

• the unsuitability of the ladder access to the ringing room

• the condition of the clock, which had recently stopped, and its subsequent inspection by the Diocesan Clock Advisor and representatives from Cumbria Clock Co.  Agreed that CK would chase Cumbria Clock Co for their report and costings.

The PCC information bulletin (in lieu of a meeting) of 27 January 2022 reported on the Cumbria Clock Co report and estimate, and possible figures for the staircase. As a result I circulated the PCC on 16 February with a proposal to launch a tower project which would cover:

• the restoration of the clock

• the painting of the bell frame

• the installation of a spiral staircase in place of the existing ladder

Members of the PCC approved the proposal by email, and it was ratified at the PCC meeting on 24 March. The ratification had to be done twice more to satisfy the requirements of the Chancellor.

At the PCC meeting on 15 September, approval to go ahead with the list of additional desirable items attached to the report was given, subject to firm costings and funds being available. The minutes refer to a list attached to the regular Tower Project Report, but I’m unable to locate that. From memory, it covered replacing worn-out seating, laying a new carpet in place of the existing hand-me-down one, a new set of bell ropes, and possibly other minor items which might become apparent once the new staircase had been installed. There was also the possibility of needing to improve trapdoor access to enable a medical emergency to be evacuated from the tower, once the ladder access to the ringing room had been replaced by a spiral staircase.

At the PCC meeting on 16 March 2023, the much-delayed receipt of the clock faculty was reported, and the subsequent reinstallation of the clock. Although this is not reported in those minutes, the faculty required the clock mechanism to be covered within twelve months from the date of the faculty. This essentially meant having a case built around the clock, something we had not anticipated, nor included in our cost estimates. This was subsequently discussed at the PCC meeting on 18 May.

Where are we now?

The three main items of the project – clock restoration, bell frame painting and the spiral staircase – have all been completed in accordance with the faculties granted, where needed (no faculty was needed for the frame painting). The clock case has been completed, so we have also complied with this provision of the clock faculty

The outstanding items are:

• Resolving the access arrangements to the ringing room for an emergency evacuation of a casualty. There are difficulties around making the trap doors in the ringing room floor and ceiling easily openable for the fire service to rig lifting gear from the bell frame and lower a casualty through the trap door. Now that the new staircase is in place, we plan to invite the fire service to have another look. It may be that a casualty could be evacuated down the new staircase, in which case no alterations to either trap door would be necessary.

• Fitting a new carpet: we can’t move on this until the trap door situation has been resolved.

• New seating: one new bench (of three) has been completed and is in use. The second is largely built, I haven’t started the final one yet. Three cushions have been ordered for the benches. The ‘Indian restaurant’ seat (sourced by Reg Chapman) is to be re-covered, and material has just been ordered for this. This will be done by the ringers. The scruffy base of this seat will be panelled.

• The wall cupboard has been emptied and its contents sorted prior to its repainting.

• Some cosmetic improvements will be made to the clock weight enclosure.


The project’s income has been £69, 697.37, made up of the initial Project Fund (£7,000), grants, fund-raising, donations, Gift Aid and VAT refunds.

The Project has spent £66,119.23, covering the frame painting, clock restoration, staircase installation, bell ropes and electrical work.

This leaves a balance in hand of £3,578.14. Of this, £2,400 is budgeted for ringing room improvements, as follows:

• New carpet £1000

• Materials for clock case, benches and other improvements £1000 (c£500 spent so far)

• Cushions and material £400

The carpet cost is a ball-park figure, and is subject to a survey and decision on the actual carpet. I think it unlikely that I will spend up to the £1000 budget for materials. Probably only wood for the final bench, and a bit more panelling, plus some paint and painting sundries will be needed.

On that basis we’re likely to finish up with a surplus of £1,000 or so, which can go back into the Project Fund.

The Project funding figures were last agreed with Hannah on 8 April.

Is the Project finished?

As far as the Diocese is concerned, yes. We’ve completed all the works which we’ve been granted faculties for, and can certify practical completion.

As far as I’m concerned, it won’t be finished until we’re completed the ringing room improvements. The timescale will depend to some extent on the response we get from the Fire Service about emergency casualty evacuation. If they are happy that they can get a casualty down the staircase, then I would estimate an end date of 30 June. If, not, then I don’t know, as there will be more hurdles to overcome with regard to trapdoors.

Chris Kippin 8 May 2024