Ringing The Bells of St. James the Great

Name of walk Ringing The Bells of St. James the Great
Date of walk 2014-03-19

The bells of St. James’ Church had not been rung since 1999. The fittings were corroded and the timber frame was in a dire state. In 2007 ringer, Geoff Pullin, from Daventry was visiting his son who worked at the shipyard, and was made aware of the unusable bells; and so began the long project of bell restoration. Dennis Ellisdon from Essex who had learned to ring on St. James’ bells in the 1950’s when working in Barrow, heard about the project and made a substantial donation. Other donations, grant applications and Lottery Heritage Funding were successful. Some building work was necessary to repair the tower, then, finally after a lot of hard work the bells were taken down and sent to Whitechapel Bell Foundry for restoration and retuning in August 2013. Then the new floors and additional ceiling to the ringing chamber were completed and ready for decorating.

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St. James' Church, Barrow. Built in 1869.

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It has a capacity of over 1,000 worshipers and is the largest place of worship in the town.

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The church was heavily damaged in the 1941 Barrow Blitz during World War II, and re-opened in 1943. This stained glass window was the only survivor.

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The church organ designed and built by William Hill and originally installed in the Chapel Royal of St. James's Palace, London. This organ would have been used for the wedding service on 10 February 1840 between Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

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The new gale breakers in the old belfry.

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The new mesh floor where you will be able to look down on the bells and listen too, albeit with ear protectors, or you may end up like the 'murder victim' in Dorothy L. Sayers 'The Nine Tailors', who wasn't murdered but succumbed to the bells after being trussed-up in the belfry just before a full peal that lasted nine hours.

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While the bells were being refurbished the volunteers got on with the painting in the new belfry and the ringing room. For Health and Safety reasons we all had to wear hard-hats and high visibility jackets. My hard-hat always fell off when I bent over, so I saved it for when I was climbing ladders. The square holes in the wall are for the new metal support beams.

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Tower Captain, Andy Pollock in the new belfry.

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The floor of the ringing room with the scaffolding and pulley system for raising the bells through the trap door.

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Painting above the scaffolding at the top of the ringing room. Ah! So that is where I put my hard-hat!

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A second coat for the belfry. With Owen, Andy, Alan J. and Alan D.

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The bells arrived back on January 7th 2014. Andy Painter and Brendan giving them a thorough inspection.

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The Tenor bell (number 8) The inscription says "These bells are for the honour of God and the use of the Church in the year of salvation 1877. Richard Palgrave Manclarke A.M. Vicar, Joseph Hill and Robert Bowker, Churchwardens.

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Me and the tenor bell, with the framework behind.

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Six of the eight.

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Read this and the intricacies of change ringing all comes clear......honest!

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The bells have now been installed by Nicholson Enginnering and the volunteers! On Wednesday the 29th of January they were ready for their first ringing for 15 years! Hugh, Dennis, Me, Owen and Andy amongst the bells. (Photograph courtesy of Alan Dewar)

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Looking down on the bells from the bell frame.

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We gather in the ringing room (gloss work and carpeting still to do!), Hugh rings the bells up one at a time ready for ringing. Louise, Rachel, Carl and baby Katherine and Carole Pullin.

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Andy Pollock gives an interview to The Evening Mail. Radio Cumbria were there too to record the bells and interview the main players.

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Here goes then, the first ringing of St. James' bells this millennium. A few rounds to begin with.

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Ringers: Carole, Alan, Owen and Andy.

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Ringers: Andy, Hugh and Geoff Pullin.

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The bell hanger, Andrew Nicholson from Nicholson Engineering makes a few adjustments. He did a bit of banging in the belfry and then we were off again. Geoff is ready with his decibel metre to check how loud it is (74dB).

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Ringers: Carl, Owen and Dennis Ellisdon.

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Ringers: Keith, Carole and Geoff Pullin.

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Group photo for the first ringing. Keith Newby, Cliff Newby, Malcolm Eacott, Owen Osmotherley, Carole Pullin, Dennis Ellisdon, Louise Nixon, Alan Dewar, Jo Sweeney, Hugh Pettifer, Tower Captain Andy Pollock, Geoff Pullin. (Photo courtesy of Andy Pollock)

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St. James' Ringers first practice night on Wednesday 12th February at 7.30pm coincided with the worst storms for years. Five ringers and three learners braved the 80mph winds! Andy demonstrating the art of teaching bell ringing to old hand, Alan.

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Alan, Andy, Jonny and Andy.

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Andy, Jonny, me and Alan.

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"Hands together"......opps, sorry Stan!

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A much more successful second practice night! Even more came as the evening went on. (Photo courtesy of Andy Pollock)

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Alan Dewar, Alan Jones and me completing the gloss work. Photo courtesy of Andy Pollock.

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Before we could have our first Service Ringing, the bells needed to be re-dedicated.

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At 1pm the ringers went for lunch at the Furness Railway, the same pub we go to after practice nights. (Photo courtesy of Alan Dewar)

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At the service my main job was to take photos of dignitaries and ringers. So here goes....... Mayor, Colin Thompson and Lady Mayoress, Brenda Thompson.

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Deputy Mayor, Marie Derbyshire and Steve. (I am not going to call him Deputy Mayoress!)

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Right is Fr. Martin Daniels, President of the Lancashire Association of Change Ringers.(LACR). Left is Fr. Nick.

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Colin Thompson with Brendan Sweeney, Deputy Leader of Barrow Borough Council.......now he looks familiar! (Malcolm Eacott in the background)

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Dennis Ellisdon and Revd. John Hodgkinson.

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Ringer Andy Painter and Ashley.

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Jo, wife of Tower Captain, Andy and their sons Jason and Cameron.

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Mandy, Molly, Maisie, Monkey and M.P., John Woodcock. (Mandy is a Cumbria County Councillor.)

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The Vicar, Revd. John Hodgkinson starts the service.

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The Bishop's Procession.

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Towards the end of the Magnificat the ringers head for the tower to get in position and wait for the green light in order to ring a few rounds after the rope blessing. During this time the belfry party including Geoff Pullin (project Leader), Dennis Ellisdon (Major Benefactor), Andrew Nicholson (Bell Hanger) and Andrew Murphy (Contractor) present a bell rope to the vicar. The Vicar passes the rope to the Bishop who blesses the rope/bells and passes the rope to Brenda Pearce the Church Warden and Andy Pollock the Tower Captain. Then the ringers ring the bells. I took over Owen's filming duties in the tower at this point so I missed the opportunity to photograph this part of the service, but there are photos on St. James' website. Ron, Milton (Evening Mail photographer), Hugh and Carole.

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Waiting for the signal : Frazer, Alan, Owen and Ron. Note the new carpet and the superb gloss work on the pews, door and paneling.

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The ringers: Hugh Pettifer, Ron East, Carl Hallows, Carole Pullin, Owen Osmotherley, Alan Dewar. Frazer Smith, Andy Painter.

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Hugh Pettifer, Ron East, Carl Hallows, Carole Pullin, Owen Osmotherley, Frazer Smith, Andy Painter, Jo Sweeney. (Photo courtesy of Alan Dewar)

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There is CCTV in both the belfry and the ringing room so the work of the bells and the ringers can be seen by the congregation via two large screens.

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Andy and Brenda with the blessed rope.

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Bishop James Newcome giving the sermon.

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Bishop James post service. He'll never hook a Herdwick with that crook!

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Bell Hanger, Andrew Nicholson.

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Furness Master, Hilary Atkinson and Louise Nixon.

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Mayor Colin Thompson with Tower Captain, Andy Pollock.

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The Bishop and the choir.

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John Woodcock M.P. and Bishop James.

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After the service there were bell tower tours. Looking down on the bells from the old belfry.

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Ear protectors needed to be worn. John and Maisie Woodcock, Cliff Newby, Brendan Sweeney and a few clergy in the old belfry looking down on the bells. (Photo courtesy of Alan Dewar)

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Alan demonstrates the working of the bells, during a break in the ringing.

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Owen, Hugh, Alan and myself.

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Afternoon tea was served in the St. James' School Hall. Dennis and John.

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Keith Hackney, Furness Secretary and a Carlisle Cathedral ringer.

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Ringers, Anne Hackney and Rachel Hallows with baby Katherine.

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The Revd. Gary Cregeen on the right.

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Brendan Sweeney and Methodist Superintendent Minister, Martin Williams.

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The President of LACR, Fr. Martin Daniels presents Project Leader, Geoff Pullin with a cheque.

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Church warden Brenda Pearce and husband Eric.

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Later in the evening a quarter peal of Grandsire Triples was rung by Alan Dewar (1), Geoff Pullin (2), Hugh Pettifer (3), Carole Pullin (4), Dennis Ellisdon (5), Andy Pollock (6), Joe Beaumont (7) & Owen Osmotherley (8). It took 48 minutes. (Photo courtesy of Alan Dewar)

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On Sunday the 16th of March five of us rang at 10am for the 10.30am Sunday Service. (Andy, me, Carl, Frazer and Andy) The first service ringing this century. Four of us having already rung for the Dalton, St Mary's Service at 9am. With only five of us you can appreciate our need for more ringers old and new of any age (10-80+), no need to be either musical or religious. (Photo courtesy of Andy Pollock)

Bell practice night for St. James’ is Wednesday 7.30-9pm. New and experienced ringers are needed and you would be welcomed with open arms!

On Saturday 22nd March St. James’ Church has an Open Day from 10am until 4pm. Come up and see the bells. (There are 101 steps up a narrow spiral staircase to get to the top belfry). Or alternatively you could watch the CCTV footage of the bells and the ringing from the comfort of a pew on the ground floor.

Tower Captain, Andy Pollock’s website ‘The bells of St. James the Great, Barrow-in-Furness’ with loads of photos of the bell restoration project, and information about bell ringing can be found at : http://www.andy-jo.talktalk.net/StJames_home.html

The St. James Team Ministry website also has some excellent bell restoration and Re-dedication Service photos, these can be found at http://www.northbarrowtm.org.uk/thebellsofstjames.html

If Barrow is too much of a hike for you, Dalton, St. Mary’s practice night is Tuesday 7-9pm and Ulverston St. Mary’s practice night is Monday 7-8.30pm.

Kendal, Ambleside, Bowness, Cartmel, Kirkby and Flookburgh have practice nights too!

Jo.

 

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