Campaign helps bells ring again

Church bells to ring again at St Luke�"s Church in Sharlston after a restoration programme.
Church bells to ring again at St Luke�"s Church in Sharlston after a restoration programme.

The bells of a village church clock are chiming again thanks to hard-earned fundraising efforts.

For years, St Luke’s in Sharlston has remained silent after the electromechanical motor, which was fitted in 1975, burnt out.

After quotes to bring back the bells went beyond the church’s budget, the plans were put on ice.

And it was only when the church’s craft group launched an appeal in 2013 with a simple scarf-knitting project did it receive several larger donations.

This eventually led to a £6,500 windfall from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

During the project it was even found that one of the bells (pictured right) was cast in 1410, predating the church by more than 470 years and giving the appeal an added incentive.

Now, an automated electronic bell-sound system has been installed and the bells themselves have been restored to work manually, using the traditional ropes.

“The bells have been largely unappreciated,” said Steve Slater, project leader of the restoration programme about attitudes down the years.

“This system served the village well for over a quarter of a century before they started having problems.

“One of the two bells had to be disconnected as it gave out an annoying din rather than a melodious ring. Finally the tolling motor burned out and the bells fell silent.

“Quotes were given but the costs were way beyond the means of the church.”

Those who have since donated included businessman John Lingard, Normanton’s Rotary Club, and resident Mark Tomlinson who raised over £2,000 with a sponsored walk.

After the Archdeacon and Diocesan Bell Advisor visited, they agreed to support the campaign, but only if the original bells were fully restored, which would double the cost of the project.

Thanks to the lottery funding, the work has now been completed, but fundraising continues.

Mr Slater said the bells are being rung manually on special occasions and that research is being carried out to delve into the history of the 15th-century bell.

The latest event will be this Sunday, October 15 at 6pm with the Patronal Festival.