Tuesday 29th August 2017 was a very exciting day – the test ringing of the new bells at Cheltenham Minster. The old bells rang for the last time at new year, since when the new bells, frame and fittings have been made and the inside of the tower gutted, cleaned and new floors installed. Finally, with everything installed we were ready for the first ringing.
The back eight were rung up in peal first – I don’t think more than a few blows had been struck before the smiles started – it was immediately obvious that we had created something special. With the front four rung up too, we had some rounds on all twelve. The lovely and familar Taylor tones picked up on the ambience of the belfry mixing the sound nicely together without making a mush of the sound.
Outside, even with the sound control open, the bells were not overbearing and with it closed, whilst the bells were clear, they were quiet enough to carry on a conversaton without having to raise your voice.
There is plenty still to do to get the ringing chamber to how we envisaged it, but that will come soon. For now the contractors involved are to be congratulated on an excellent job, namely Whites of Appleton who did the bellhanging work and made the new frame and fittings, John Taylor & Co. who cast and tuned the bells, TLB Services who did the dirty work of removing the old floors before installing the new ones, Cumbria Clocks who overhauled and electrified the winding of the clock,the local contractors who cleaned the ringing chamber walls and decorated them and provided new wiring throughout the tower and above all the tireless work of the local ringers in fundraising,organising the local labour, providing the sound control system and a whole host of other things.
I am priveleged to have been asked to project manage this scheme and proud of what we have created for this generation of ringers and those who will follow us.