St Michaels Renovations Diary 2020

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Saturday 25th Jan 2020

Taylors Install New ladders to provide safe access to the Belfry.

Carl (from Taylors) with two helpful volunteers move the old ladder out of the way and install the new custom made ladder.

In addition to providing safe access to the floor above,the new ladder provides maximum space for bell ringers by being hinged, allowing it to be folded flat against the wall when not in use.

The New Ladder

The new custom made ladder awaiting installation.

Moving Ladder to Tower

Manoeuvering the ladder into the tower.

New Ladder being secured to top hinge

The new ladder being secured to top hinge

New ladder installed and leading to new enlarged access hatch

New ladder installed and leading to new enlarged access hatch.


Sunday 26th Jan 2020

'Spring Clean' of the belfry

Volunteers (Ian Wilgress, Alison Wilgress, Geoff Stockwin, Barry Prior) clear 90 years of pigeon nests from the tower intermediate floor and the belfry in preparation for the removal of the bells later in the week.

Cleaning the Belfry

Cleaning the belfry and intermediate floor was a filthy job requiring facemasks.

View through the window

The consolation is that the belfry is a room with a view! (until the louvres are replaced during renovation work later in the year).

Intermediate chamber cleaned up

And the intermediate chamber after cleaning.


Tuesday 28th Jan 2020

Old tower ladder secured in new display position.

Taylors return to secure the old wooden access ladder in a new position in the bell tower which will allow it to be retained for display without impinging on the area needed by future bell ringers.

Taylors also open up a new hatch in the ceiling of the bell ringing chamber through which the bells will be lowered later in the week.

Old ladder secured to wallTaylors return to secure the old wooden access ladder in a new position in the bell tower which will allow it to be retained for display without impinging on the area needed by future bell ringers.

New access for bell lowering

Taylors also open up a new hatch in the ceiling of the bell ringing chamber through which the bells will be lowered later in the week.


Wednesday 29th Jan 2020

Taylors send 1 bell hanger (Kit), working with 4 volunteers (Chris Pratska, Len Kirby, David Foster from Flore, and Barry Prior), to begin removal work on the bells.

Removing bearing caps from bells

Removing bearing caps from the bells.

Clappers removed

All four clappers successfully removed.

Removing wheels from bells

One of the volunteers removing a wheel from the bell.

One of the lifting gear beams

One of the new lifting gear beams in place.

First bell descending from belfry

The Lifting gear being attatched to the first bell in preparation for lowering it.

First bell descending from belfry

The first bell descending through the belfry floor on its journey to the ground.

First bell descending to ground floor

And through the new hatch in the intermediate floor, down to ground level!

Second bell on its way down

The Second bell on its way down!

First two bells safely at ground level

The end of day one - the first two bells safely at ground level!


Thursday 30th Jan 2020

Kit and the volunteers return to complete the removal of the two remaining bells.

Last small bell in place

The belfry at the start of the day - one small bell to remove (behind the ladder), and then the largest bell (off the bottom of the picture).

Frame moved to accomodate Large Bell

After removal of the final small bell, one of the bell frames is cut free and moved aside to allow the large bell down through the hatch (Red shows the original position of the frame before it was moved about 20cm to the left)

Large bell on its way down

The last, and largest, bell on its way down.

Large bell on floor

Finally all four bells are at the base of the tower - ready for collection the next day.

With the bells all down, there's just time for a few photos of some of the meterials that were re-used in the building of the tower, and the what looks like an earlier opening above the bell louvre which has been subsequently filled in:

Saxon stone re-used

Second Saxon stone

Other re-used stone

Filled in window


Friday 31st Jan 2020

The bells are moved from the church and loaded onto the Taylors lorry for transport to the foundry.

Kit returns and, with the original volunteers plus four extra helpers (Paul Taylor, Peter Ellwood, David Brodie, and Joe Brodie), loads each bell onto the bell trolley which is then man-handled up the church path to the waiting lorry - with the encouragement of interested onlookers from the village.

Pushing bells up the path

First bell loading onto truck

Last bell being loaded onto truck

Helpers and on-lookers

The bell crewThe 'Bell Crew' - still able to smile at the end of the day!


Monday 3rd February 2020

The bells reach the foundry.

The bells in the Foundry