As I mentioned when I posted the Christmas Eve Pictures the plan for the work on the Bell Tower at St James was due to go ahead this week. As planned on Tuesday and Wednesday this week Whitechapel Bell Foundry came along and removed our peal of six bells to be retuned and turned, giving us the chance to strengthen the frame, by mounting it better within the tower.
Anyway, since tonight was Epiphany, the church flag comes down, having been flying since Christmas. Since I had to climb through all the levels to get to the flagpole on the roof I thought I’d record what the tower looks like empty!
The first two pictures are of the ringing chamber. The bells were taken out through two trapdoors in the centre of the tower. In the case of the ringing room at some point since the last time the bells came out, a lino had been put on the floor, so this had to be taken up to reveal the trap door. The second shot is looking up at the empty holes where the bell ropes come through. It both shots you can see the trap doors.
Next there are a couple of shots of the empty bell frame. The frame fills much of the upper level of the tower, and of course, the trap door is directly beneath where two of the bells hang. From the second shot from above, you can see that in order to open the trap door and take the bells out, part of the frame has had to have been dismantled. As this is a totally enclosed space, there was no chance to use a crane, everything was lifted using the ancient oak beams that support the tower roof. The trap door can just be made out in the centre. Also compare these shots to the similar ones with the bells in place from Christmas Eve.
The last three pictures are a few close up shots of bits you don’t usually see. The first is one of the holes for the bell ropes from the other direction. Then a close up of the top of the frame where the bells are hung, note the grease as well. The final shot is of the wheel that holds the bell rope, and other bits of the mounting, which are left in the tower whilst the bells are taken away.