March 11 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, January 1, 2014
Cromer Church’s bells will ring in the New Year today - and then fall silent until the early summer.
The familiar sound of the parish church clock striking the hour will also disappear from the resort until May or June when extensive work on the bells is expected to be complete.
The six bells will play a special quarter peal, Cambridge Surprise Minor, at 11am, and then rounds and call changes after today’s 5pm annual fireworks display on Cromer Pier.
Bell ringer and steeple keeper Maureen Gardiner said that later this month the bells, weighing a total of about two tonnes, would be lowered to the ground from the belfry and taken to bellhangers Whites of Appleton, in Oxfordshire, where new fittings would be attached, replacing the current 140-year-old worn-out fixtures.
From there the one medieval bell and its five much younger sisters would travel to the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London - makers of Big Ben and Cromer’s five Victorian bells - where they would be joined by two newly-cast bells.
All eight would then be tuned to the medieval bell, before they were returned to Cromer and re-hung in a frame which would be strengthened ready for their arrival.
Until then, Easter and weddings would go ahead at the church without bell-ringing unless the church’s refurbished handbells were brought into action, said Dr Gardiner.
She is delighted with Cromer’s response to the bells project which, once book and plant sales are held next spring, will have seen the target £60,000-£63,000 raised through events and donations in just one year.
“It was a dive into the unknown but people have been fantastic, and very generous,” she said.
One of the two new bells has been paid for by Cromer fisherman and bell ringer David Leeder and will be dedicated to his parents.
Joan and Gilbert Larter, from Happisburgh, have paid for the other, in memory of Diss engineer Tony Baines.
Dr Gardiner said the medieval bell was inscribed “Gabriel” but the Victorian five had no dedications.
The bell-ringers would like a plaque made naming one in honour of Cromer Carnival and were wondering whether the tenor bell, which struck the hour, should be labelled the “Town” bell.
But they would like to hear suggestions for other dedications related to the life of the town.
■ Call Dr Gardiner on 01263 825779.