Central Council of Church Bell Ringers
Meeting with English Heritage

Notes of a meeting held at 1, Waterhouse Square, London, EC1 on Monday, 13th October 2008

English Heritage - Diana Evans, Graham Pledger

CCCBR - Tony Smith, Kate Flavell, James Clarke, Ian Oram

1. Introductions:

Following the triennial election meeting of the CCCBR Tony Smith was now President and Kate Flavell had been elected Vice-President; James Clarke was the new chairman of the Towers and Belfries Committee (T&BC).

2. Matters Arising from previous meeting notes:

(a) Surveys of existing bellframes: EH had circulated a draft Specification for bellframe recording, which had been commented on by Chris Pickford, John Eisel and EH inspectors and architects. Once agreed it would be placed on the "Inspired!" website; it would be useful to include good examples of recording in PDF format. It was stressed that the Specification gave guidelines for an inspection report; James Clarke commented that some of the information requested might not now be available, having been lost for some reason. Diana Evans acknowledged that parishes might need to get help from people who could do the necessary research. Graham Pledger added that handdrawn records would be the most economical. Two points of detail were noted: in items 1.2 and 1.3 the phrase "bell holes" needed clarification; and the reference in 3.7 to the Bellframes (1993) scheme should explain where that might be obtained.

Tony Smith asked James Clarke to circulate to the T&BC for comment. Diana Evans would ask the Church Buildings Council (CBC) to circulate to its own Bells Committee for comment. In view of the long period in preparing this Specification, it would be helpful if it could be finalised as soon as possible and therefore all comments should be returned to EH by 30th November 2008.

(b) Tower Sway: Graham Pledger referred to the work of the late Harry Windsor, whose theoretical calculations predicted the maximum sway that could ever happen, e.g. when the bells were "fired". Recent work at Great St Mary's, Cambridge by engineers from the University had produced results for maximum sway during method ringing. This showed less movement than Harry would have shown and was perhaps more useful. He thought that some way of measuring movement during a typical practice, (just like Whitechapel's "Rufus"), was really all that was needed and might reduce the time needed to produce the reports. He was aware of recent work by an engineer using an accelerometer, which gave "real-time" measurements of masonry movement. James Clarke added that the speed of ringing was also an important factor in relation to the tower's natural frequency.

(c) CCCBR Reports: Graham Pledger asked if the T&BC reports on those towers where movement measurements had been carried out could be published on the website. James Clarke pointed out that such reports were confidential to the parishes and therefore publication on a website would not be permitted. However, it should be possible to advise EH of parishes where reports had been made.

(d) CCCBR Roadshow: EH had contacted their marketing department, but they now only attend their own events and do not have the resources to attend others. CCCBR commented that the 2-day event had been very successful and would invite EH again, should another Roadshow be planned.

(e) CBC Bell Advisors Conference: Diana Evans, Graham Pledger and Tony Smith attended, together with only around half of the DAC Bell Advisors, including James Clarke for the Exeter DAC. Graham Pledger spoke about the importance of belfry floors and Andrew Waring covered the recent repair of the Romsey Abbey bellframe. Those Advisors who did attend were keen for regular interaction with the CBC and hoped that there would be another conference.

3. The Heritage Protection Bill:

Diana Evans explained that in the normal course of events the Bill should be in the next Queen's Speech, leading to implementation in 2010. However, EH clearly had no control over this process. In the meantime Heritage Protection Agreements Pilots were still being developed.

4. Cases of difficulty:

Great Malvern: the Chancellor held a Consistory Court in the church, including up the tower, on 30th September. The proceedings had been conducted in a very informal manner, with plenty of opportunity for all concerned to make their case and make new points if necessary. The parish reiterated that it had no confidence in the repair solution. Both EH and Taylors had commissioned Adrian Dempster for his views on the various proposals. The Chancellor's Judgment was expected in the next month or so.

5. Other business:

Building-in steel beam-ends: James Clarke recalled previous discussion on this subject, which concluded that EH would not issue general advice and that each case must be assessed on its merits. However, members of the T&BC were keen to promote the principle of building in beams in a dense Ordinary Portland Cement mix; Diana Evans suggested that an article be submitted to the Ecclesiastical Architects Association for its magazine. James Clarke would prepare this and Graham Pledger offered to comment.

6. Next meeting:

It was provisionally agreed to meet at Waterhouse Square on 3rd April 2009 at 2pm.

The Ringing World, November 21, 2008, page 1204