Central Council of Church Bell Ringers Meeting With English Heritage

Notes of a meeting held at 23, Savile Row, London, W1 on Thursday, 4th March 2004

English Heritage - Richard Halsey, Graham Pledger.

CCCBR - Michael Henshaw, Derek Sibson, Chris Povey, Ian Oram.

1. Matters Arising from previous meeting notes:

(a) Conservation Statement: the final version of "Tower Changes" had still not been printed: Chris Povey would chase.

(b) Roadshow: Graham Pledger said that work was continuing on the surveys of Attleborough and St Osyth and it was hoped to commission an external body to carry out a third survey. Richard Halsey added that EH was keen to establish the cost of the work externally, as EH did not have the resources to carry out such work for others.

(c) Consulting EH when rehanging bells: the meeting agreed that it was beneficial to a project for the bellhangers to advise consulting EH at an early stage. It was noted that practice amongst DACs varied, as to when they advised consulting EH.

(d) Council for the Care of Churches (CCC) seminar on bell conservation: Michael Henshaw referred to the proposals on listing bells and frames, which were causing much concern both to ringers and the trade. It was regretted that there had been little opportunity for any discussion. Michael noted that CCCBR's Towers and Belfries and Redundant Bells Committees were dealing with the Consultation Document subsequently circulated by CCC. The situation had to be watched most carefully, as the impact of new criteria could effect a change to the Code of Practice.

2. Repair Grants for Places of Worship and Your Heritage - Richard Halsey reported that the Repair Grants Scheme had been reviewed in January and no changes were made. However, the second stage of the process allowing 12 months to obtain tenders was proving not long enough and the current deadline had been extended. The Heritage Lottery Fund was reducing its allocation to £15 million next year.

The Your Heritage Scheme had recently announced a grant to Kingsbury Episcopi: a good presentation had been made, bringing out the access and educational benefits.

3. Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme - Richard Halsey noted that the involvement of the EU had made the issues much more confused; in the meantime the Scheme in this country was expected to continue until March 2006.

Post-meeting note: "In the Budget, the Chancellor extended the Scheme by making all the VAT on repairs paid after 1st April 2004 eligible for a grant and confirming that the Scheme will run to 31st March 2006. However there was no extension in scope, so the full 17.5% VAT paid on bell work and on engineer and architects fees will remain ineligible for a grant; only repairs to existing bellframes are eligible".

4. Radio Aerials in Churches - Michael Henshaw reported that CCCBR had produced an A5 booklet specifically for ringers, to supplement Quintel's handbook. CCCBR intended to produce similar information for Chancellors etc, emphasising the problems of dual access.

Richard Halsey mentioned that Police Authorities were now also interested in church towers for their equipment. Chris Povey referred to the installation at Rowley Regis, where all the ancillary equipment was in an outbuilding, thus no difficulty over access.

Michael noted that a working group of CCCBR's Towers and Belfries Committee would monitor the ongoing situation.

5. Case of difficulty:

Great Malvern, Worcestershire - Chris Povey reported that the parish had suspended the project. However, Graham Pledger said that his enquiries were continuing; he would like to locate another Taylor "tall-A" frame to measure its performance under ringing conditions. He had visited Peterborough Cathedral but felt the conditions were not entirely comparable: Chris suggested several other towers with bells of similar weight to Malvern. Graham would then revert to the PCC.

6. Surveys of existing frames - Chris Povey spoke of a project where EH had asked for an archaeological report and 20 days were spent preparing this; EH responded that the report was not satisfactory; additional detail was submitted but EH still wanted further details. It would be more helpful if EH could prepare a full specification of their requirements at the outset; parishes do not have spare money to spend on such work.

EH was working towards producing a detailed specification of survey requirements. Richard Halsey stressed that the survey is often part of the project, because it enables a better understanding of the existing installation for all parties; it is particularly important if any part is to be destroyed. The Society for the Preservation of Ancient Buildings Note 14 provides a good example of what is required.

7. Other business - no other matter was raised.

8. Next meeting - it was agreed to meet at Savile Row on 14th October 2004 at 4 p.m.

The Ringing World, May 28, 2004, page 511