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This note has been produced to preserve much of the content in the photographs and explanatory posters, prepared by Kristen Negaard O’Brien, which were displayed in church during the work. Some historical documents relating to the bells are included in the Appendix. See also the Heritage pages of the Church website for further information about the development, over the centuries, of Ulverston Parish Church.


Top              Before May 2019
Centre        During July 2021
Bottom      After September 2021

Details of the Bells


A ring of 6 bells cast by Thomas Mears Ⅱ at Whitechapel London in 1836


Also on the inscription band of each bell:

The bells were cast to an exceptionally thick scale. At the time of manufacture, the 5th was ‘skirted’ (metal chiselled from the lip of the bell) to raise its strike note and the treble was ‘chip tuned’ (metal chiselled from inside the bell) to lower its note. The 4th was also chip tuned, but over only half its circumference, possibly to correct core shift. The other three bells were un-tuned. The tuning machine acquired from the Rudhall foundry at Gloucester was not installed until the 1840s. The weights are taken from a plaque supplied by Mears & Stainbank in 1899. The bell diameters (to ~¼”) and inscriptions were rechecked on 23rd May 2022.

Background to the Work

Over the years, it was felt that the bells were “going” less easily than in the past – in particular, the tenor and 5th bells were less predictable and  ould drop or tip over the balance. This was investigated in 2010, including videoing the frame movement. A note outlining the  maintenance history and work needed was produced in January 2011. The main recommendations relating to frame movement are reproduced below:

“Whilst there is some work which can be done by DIY effort, rectification of the frame movement will require the involvement of a bellhanger. Builders will also be needed, working closely to the bellhanger’s specification. At the least, it is likely to require support/lifting of the frame for removal of the decayed wallplates on the west side. This would be followed by cutting out of pockets and casting of padstones or a concrete beam on the offset of the wall (or insertion of an RSJ) to support and restrain the cills [sills] of the bellframe, care being taken to ensure that the frame remains level.”

The Whitechapel Bell Foundry inspected in 2011 as did Nicholson Engineering in 2014. Both proposed the conventional solution of installing a new steel grillage under the frame. However to fit this would require taking out the bells either through removed louvres or through a new roof hatch, or storing the bells in the ringing room after creating a large hatch in the floor of the bellchamber. (The floor of the ringing room is reinforced concrete without a hatch.) All of these options would incur considerable extra expense and would make the job more extensive than the PCC could contemplate.

After examining the space available between the bellframe and walls, with further limits set by the chimney in the N-W corner and a downspout in the N-E corner, it seemed just possible to fit a 10″x3½” channel section steel beam on each side of the bellframe to stiffen it in the E-W direction. By making each beam in 3 sections (at 35 kg/m), it was feasible to lug each piece up the spiral staircase. Using long bolts and copses under the bellframe sills and by packing up the ends of the beam (in the wall pockets) the frame with bells in place could be lifted enough by screwing up the bolts to allow removal of the decayed timbers and casting of the replacement concrete padstones. Placed flat, the channel beam would need intermediate support to take the load, however if set on edge, further support would not be needed. This would also give better access and allow the padstone to be cast as a single continuous unit, level along its length. After lowering the frame, the channel would be turned to lay flat before being finally built into the north and south walls. In 2018, Nicholson Engineering agreed to implement this scheme and provide a costed proposal.

The Hutton+Rostron report (Timber Decay Survey, February 2019) highlighted extensive decay in the floorboards of the bellchamber as a result of moisture retention and beetle and fungal attack. It recommended that: “The vinyl floor finishes over the Belfry floor should be removed immediately. The floorboards should be raised and the floor void thoroughly cleaned and vacuumed of all collected debris. Decay in the floorboards is extensive and salvage is, therefore unlikely.” As a result of this, the ringers carried out a major clearance in May 2019 ahead of the work on the bells and bellframe.

This montage shows the bellchamber after clearing much debris from the ends of the ancient floor beams which run N-S; these beams are supported on the wall offsets. Their ends are visible prior to refitting the floorboards. The bellframe is not as distorted as the panorama shots might suggest!

Several carloads of damp carpets were also removed from under the bells. These had been added over the years to reduce the sound reaching the ringers below; the floorboards were in poor condition and had many gaps. Old doors were then positioned under each bell pending the installation of new floorboarding.

A temporary repair was also done under the N sill when the short timber pad was found so decayed that it simply lifted out. The floor beams would have been taking the load in this area.


Plans for Stabilising the Bellframe

a. Repairing and Supporting the Bellframe

b. Reducing E-W Frame Movement



A swinging bell creates a horizontal force (sideto-
side) about twice its weight and a maximum
vertical force (downwards) about four times its
Two channel section steel beams will be fitted
and concreted into the tower walls to resist the
E-W forces and frame movement caused by the
ringing motion of the two largest bells – thus
reducing the E-W frame movement (presently
estimated as 2 or 3 mm relative to the tower).
The total (static) weight of all the bells is approx.
2.5 tons. All of the bells and frame together
weigh approx. 6.5 tons. When initially fitted on
edge (before being finally fitted flat) the W
channel is strong enough to lift this side of the
frame while the padstone is being cast.

Restoration of Bell Components

Dismantling of Fittings (1)

Wooden bell crown spacer will be replaced with an epoxy spacer allowing adjustment of bell hang (distance from bearing to bell lip) for better grading.




 Bell headstock bolts removed to


Pulleys and sliders will be replaced with new components. The clappers will be annealed, their lengths adjusted, the balls turned (to give new surfaces) and the pivots rebushed with Tufnol bearing material. The crown staples (below right) ended up being replaced, too.