The Millennium Ring

Remember the Millennium Comet?

 A ring of eight bells in a cast iron frame was designed and installed by Fred Pembleton of Chesterfield in Derbyshire. Four of the bells were already in the derelict bell chamber (seen in the first pictures) and had to be removed to Taylors of Loughborough to be re-tuned to ring with the four new bells cast in Taylors Bell Foundry (in the second group of pictures).

Halley's comet was photographed with just a few weeks to go to the Millennium deadline, project completion was a very close run thing!



While the bells were being cast, the tower had to be made ready. The YMCA New Deal “A” team led by Alan Rodham from South Shields, seen here in the spire, performed an invaluable job readying the ringing chamber and the bell chamber above.

Unloaded from a lorry in front of the Cross pub the new bells were trollied up to the church and lined up down the centre of the nave for an evening blessing service before the task of winching them up into the tower began the next day .

Previously a team of volunteers from the congregation and the Friends had made concrete in a batch mixing machine in the nave and placed it high in the mediaeval tower walls to cure off ready to bear the new steel structure carrying the heavy bell frame castings.

Access to the bell ringing chamber is up the magnificent High Victorian open stair but the bells have their own trap door to enable them to be hoisted up into the bell chamber behind the church clock face.


 This is Fred and Christine Pembleton, their two sons, and Fred’s long time workmate having completed the hanging of the bells on 11 December 1999.

The bell wheels are an incredibly tight fit, with a clearance of less than an inch beneath the C14 timbers to the spire.



Here the tenor bell, the largest, is in the 'up' position and ready for full-circle ringing. Beyond it to the right is the treble bell, the smallest, in the 'down' position and obscured by the frame. To the fore is the wheel of the number three bell. A tight fit indeed, and no spare space when all eight are swinging full circle!


Our thanks to the Oxford University Society of Change Ringers for this animation showing full circle ringing

In May 2005 Tracy Charlton, one of the original group of Millennium ringers pictured here, married Stuart Coates and rang the bells for her own wedding. We are hoping for Matthew, the elder of her two children to start ringing with us in a few years time.