The local ringers dismantled the tenor headstock and the clappers with balance weights. After work on these at Loughborough, Taylors have rehung all eight bells in December, producing a pleasant, easy-going octave.
During August the clappers, wheels and pulley boxes were removed from the eight bells by Taylors. During October the bells were rehung with new fittings and new ropes in the newly painted steel frame. They are now another easy-going, as well as melodious, octave.
This unringable octave in its detached, and unsteady, tower was purchased by the PCC of St Mary, Portchester and, with the aid of members from Portsmouth District, was lowered through the tower to be transported to the dockyard for storage. Portchester hopes to rehang them and move their present antique ring of three into Portchester Castle. For Whitechapel the latter will be a first ever.
This twelfth century church has initiated an appeal to restore bells and organ. Alas, it is planned that the four unringable bells will be rehung for chiming only, and letters from the Guild and from the Central Council have been unable to change this decision.
Help and advice has been offered by our Guild members for the Rector's plan to relocate the three chiming bells.
The eight bells were rung for the last time on 3rd January 1988 and the old wooden frame has been removed. The fittings are to be refurbished by Taylors, who will also cast four lighter bells to produce a ring of twelve. A two-tier metal frame for the twelve bells is under construction by Westland Aerospace and should be installed during 1988. The tower captain, Mr David Weir, has masterminded the augmentation and is organising many forms of fundraising.
Revd G Rayner abandoned in 1974 plans to purchase and install the octave from Gosport. However, fundraising since that year has produced a sum that enabled the PPC to order a new light ring of six from Whitechapel, while Dawn and Alan Russell have trained a complete band from Wootton on the bells at Brading. First, however, they have to build a tower at Wootton to house the bells.
During 1987 the Central Council launched an initiative to promote the restoration of the five hundred and twenty peals of unringable bells in the UK. Packets of information were sent to the five hundred and twenty PCCs, which in our Guild area were: Gosport, Guernsey (St Peter Port), Hurstbourne Tarrant, Netley, Ovington, Pamber, Shanklin, Winchester (St John the Baptist) and Winchester (St Michael in the Soke).
Copies were obtained for each District Secretary, from whom they may be borrowed. Another item in the initiative was the one day seminar on bell restoration at Northampton on 4th April (see The Ringing World, issue 3966). The Executive Committee invited Mr R Knight, Chairman of Andover District, to represent the Guild and he gave a report during the 1987 AGM.
D C JACKSON