Audlem Bell Restoration Appeal



Audlem Church

Since 1985 I have been ringing in Audlem, a village in south Cheshire, where I wrote the first Abel ringing simulator in the early 1990s. Audlem's six bells were cast by Abel Rudhall in 1736 - and the Abel simulator is named after him. The churchwardens' accounts for 1736 show that the cost of the new six was just over £110, including £69 paid to Rudhall's for recasting the old five, and £32 for building a new frame and hanging the bells.

The next we know of the bells is 150 years later: in 1891 the canons were removed, the bells were quarter turned and fitted to new wooden headstocks, and all the other fittings were replaced.

By the 1990s, the bells were getting harder to ring. Taylor's inspected them, provided new bearings and pulleys, and refurbished the clappers. Profits from sales of Abel paid the bill. Afterwards, the 'go' of the bells improved, but some odd struckness remained.

So, the bells and frame are now 285 years old; the headstocks and wheels are 130 years old; bearings, bushes and pulleys are 25 years old. Some bells have been persistently odd struck for many years; the 1736 frame gives a poor rope circle. And in the last few years the bells have again become difficult to ring well. We hoped another minor refurbishment might solve the problems, so we invited bell hangers to inspect the bells and report what was needed.

Bad news! They unanimously agreed that the entire installation is worn out. The frame is moving horizontally and ertically; wheels and headstocks are reaching end of life; bells should be turned again to spread wear from the clappers; clappers again need refurbishing or replacing; etc etc. In summary: a major restoration is needed, replacing almost all fittings and strengthening, underpinning or replacing the frame. While a new frame might be the best long term solution for ringing, there would be heritage issues in our Grade 1 listed building, and of course the cost would be much higher: up to £70,000 - prices have increased since 1736!

Update: better news. After getting a report on the frame from an independent structural engineer, it's become clear that supporting brackets, strengthening plates and tie rods will be sufficient - reducing the cost to about £50,000.

Donations

It's still a lot of money, and we would welcome donations. If you have found Abel, Mabel or Mobel useful, would you be willing to support us? You can make a donation online by clicking Just Giving, or by going to www.justgiving.com and searching for "Audlem PCC".

If you prefer to send a cheque, please email audlembells@btinternet.com for the bank account details and Gift Aid form.

Thank you.



Audlem Bells