Ringing in the changes at Lancaster church

Work is underway on a £20,000 restoration project at a church in Lancaster where the bells haven’t rung in all their glory for more than three decades.

The bell tower at the Grade II listed Christ Church, which dates back to 1857 and is based at Wyresdale Road opposite Williamson Park, will undergo a refurbishment.

The conservation project will repair the church bell fittings, while a second larger bell, which has stood unused for over 30 years after falling in 1984, will also be re-erected in its original position.

The project has been funded through the Gregson Trust and comes after a series of more pressing works at Christ Church, including repairs to the church roof and a refurbishment of the church hall.

The restoration work means both bells can be hung on new fittings for swing chiming. This traditional bell ringing method is considered to make a superior sound to the stationary technique currently used at Christ Church.

Two North West conservation specialists have teamed up to drive the project forward. Harrison Pitt Architects has been entrusted to oversee the project on behalf of the Diocese of Blackburn, while High Level Maintenance will provide access to the bell tower and carry out the repairs.

Zoe Hooton, an architect at Harrison Pitt Architects, said: “This is an important restoration and conservation project that will protect the church for future generations. The bell tower structure dates back 160 years so over time the structural work has eroded, but the project means the two bells will be reunited within the bell tower for the first time in decades and the refurbishment work will keep them ringing for many more years to come.”

The Christ Church vicar, Reverend Phil Hudd, added: “When I took over the parish I was told that the second, larger bell had fallen in the 1980s due to deterioration of the bell housing, so the work is great news for both the church and church-goers.”

The timber louvres, which ventilate the North spire where the church bell is located, and the floor to the bell chamber will also undergo replacement and maintenance to stop water getting in and preventing the risk of future decay.

Tony Warburton, director at High Level Maintenance Ltd, said: “High Level Maintenance will use steeplejack ladders and suspended fly scaffolding to gain safe access to both the inside and outside of the tower.

“This specialist equipment will allow us to carry out the maintenance works, including fitting new timbers to house the bells and replacing the current wooden louvres with new aluminium louvres to prolong the life of the structure.”

Bell specialist John Taylor & Co is restoring the bells at its bell foundry in Loughborough. The project is expected to be complete at the end of May.

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