Cathedral bell to once again ring out across Shrewsbury after 50 years
The peal of a bell forged just months after the end of the Crimean War is to be heard across Shrewsbury once again thanks to state-of-the-art restoration work.
The bell at Shrewsbury Cathedral was cast in June 1856, but it has not rung out for nearly 50 years after wear and tear stopped it from swinging and rendered its iron clapper immoveable.
But in a month-long project under way at the mother church of the Diocese of Shrewsbury, the bell is being repaired, cleaned and restored, and also refitted with an advanced automated ringing system.
The tolling system will allow clergy and cathedral officials to make the bell chime at the simple touch of a button from a remote control key fob which can be programmed far in advance.
The repair project is being carried out by John Taylor Bellfounders in Loughborough - the Leicestershire firm that made the bell just three months after the Treaty of Paris ended the Crimean War against Russia.
The work involves removing and repairing the bell, sandblast-cleaning it and checking for and filling cracks, before it is reinstalled on new fittings.
Besides the automated ringing system, a rope will also be attached so the bell can be tolled manually if necessary.
Before the bell is hoisted up and fastened above the roof to ring out once more, it will be blessed by the Rt Rev Mark Davies, the Bishop of Shrewsbury, during a ceremony at the cathedral.
The bell was first commissioned by Victorian architect Edward Welby Pugin and installed in the year of the opening of the cathedral, one of the smallest in Britain.
Records show that the bell-wheel became detached from its headstock in 1973, meaning that the bell could not swing.
The clapper was by then already displaced at an angle “out of flight” with its intended direction.
The repair of the bell is among a range of new projects to recover the full beauty of the cathedral and to enhance its mission of evangelisation.
The Rt Rev Davies said: “The sound of church bells is one of the characteristics of Shrewsbury.
"I am pleased the bell of Shrewsbury Cathedral is being restored to gently ring out again as part of the cathedral’s renewal.
"It will ring together with all the bells of the town inviting us to lift up our hearts in Christian hope and prayer.”
Richard Keddie, development officer for Shrewsbury Cathedral, said: “This is a great occasion for Shrewsbury Cathedral and one which will enhance the fabric and essence of this beautiful place of worship.
“Future-proofing the bell and adopting the new automated tolling system will certainly add to the cathedral’s presence once again within the town and will also be extremely useful for clergy requiring control of the bell for use at various services held here.”