Castle Bromwich Bell Restoration Project
Celebrating 300 years of ringing 1717-2017 - Patrons: The Earl of Bradford & The Viscount Hereford

The Problem

Ringers have sounded out the bells across Castle Bromwich since the Middle Ages. The installation has been altered and improved by successive bands of ringers and their patrons. The present team intend to continue that tradition, leaving the bells in an improved state for future generations of ringers and listeners. 

We're celebrating the heritage of the past and carrying it into the future.

Castle Bromwich bells were recast in 1952 by the noted bellfounders Gillett & Johnston of Croydon (now sadly defunct). They are an excellent set of 6 bells and they are noted for their good tone. 

However, the bells were installed in a frame of 1893, which never was satisfactory, using some of the installation from the 18th-century hanging of the bells.

The bell frame is not attached correctly to the tower, only three bolts hold it to the floor, and the floor beams are not attached to the wall but simply resting on a ledge, The whole installation therefore bounces up and down when the bells are rung. Neither do the bells swing properly because of the reuse of older parts making Castle Bromwich a difficult ring. 

It's said locally that if you can manage to ring Castle Bromwich bells, you can ring at any tower in Birmingham!

Furthermore, the bells have received scant attention since they were installed over 60 years ago. At some time in the future something in the installation will fail. 


The Solution

Our aim was to have the bell installation completely refurbished and to add two new trebles in a new frame. A purpose-made cast-iron frame was designed for us by Taylor's of Loughborough, the only remaining in Britain. It is more slender than the existing old wooden frame and accommodates two new lighter bells making a full ring of eight. All the fittings have been replaced with fittings designed for the size of weight of our bells, making them a much smoother ring than previously. The project was completed in time to celebrate the tercentenary of Sir John Bridgeman's 1717 installation of a ring of five. 




Below: a Diary of the Installation
Latest Update - 9 March 2017

The work has started! Taylor's bellhanger, Andy Ogden has been with us for 8 days lowering the bells, dismantling the frame and removing the old belfry floor. We've had over a dozen willing hands helping out, local people and ringers, many of whom did not just work their allocated day, but kept coming back for more! It was heavy, dirty, exhausting work, but something very exciting to be involved in. 

The six bells have now gone to the bell foundry at Loughborough where they will be cleaned and checked for tuning. We had two new treble bells cast there in September to make a full ring of eight. We now have to wait our place in the queue for the new cast-iron bell frame to be made. 

The rehanging is due to start on 17 July and last for five weeks, finishing by 18 August. 


Very latest update - June 2017

The frame and headstocks have now been cast at Loughborough, where they'll construct the whole frame, bells and all, then dismantle it and bring it to Castle Brom. The rehanging is due to start on 17 July and last for five weeks, finishing by 18 August. 

 

     

       













Above: our bells on display, in pride of place, by the entrance at Taylor's bell foundry open day 29 July 2017.

Below: The installation of the Castle Bromwich bells! 17th July - 18th August 2017.

When the bells returned from Loughborough,a service of blessing was held using the words of the service in 1952 when the  bells were recast. A very dirty copy had been found in the belfry during dismantling.  When the installation was complete a service of dedication was held in the presence of our patron, The Viscount Hereford, Deputy Mayor of Solihull Mike Robinson and other civic dignitaries. After four years hard work, it was a very moving occasion. The bells of Castle Bromwich are now set to ring for many years into the future.