Bells to fall silent as refurbishment starts

b12-991 St Andrew's Church, Biggleswade. ENGPNL00120120829150608

b12-991 St Andrew's Church, Biggleswade. ENGPNL00120120829150608

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This Sunday marks a poignant ceremony in Biggleswade - as the bells of St Andrew ring out one last time before being taken down for refurbishment.

After Sunday’s call to worship the eight bells will be removed on Monday.

It’s the first time they have been taken down for more than 100 years.

The ambitious project has received financial support from the Bedfordshire Association of Church Bell Ringers along with technical advice.

Andrew Mills and Paul Mason of Taylor’s Foundry will prepare for the installation of lifting beams.

And then under the supervision of Andrew Mills and Andrew Ogden the bells will be lowered through the south window of the bell chamber to the foot of the west tower.

For safety reasons access to this area on Shortmead Street will be restricted. Additional volunteer labour will be supplied by local ringers.

Then, the bells will be transported to the foundry in Loughborough.

There they will be refurbished before joining two new bells which have already been cast, to create a peal of 10 tuned bells when they are replaced at the church in mid-May.

Anthony Smith, Captain of Ringers at St Andrew’s, said, “The Biggleswade townsfolk at that time have left us with a wonderful heritage.

“We must show our gratitude with this enlarged ring of bells continuing to peal over the town.

“The ultimate aim is to establish our town’s parish church as “a centre of excellence” in the county for bell ringing.

“It already has a long standing reputation as a first class centre for this century’s old expression of faith, having won several notable competitive awards over recent decades.

“When Spring comes, bells will once more peal forth their notes, layered with so many voices.”

The parish church of Biggleswade has maintained its peal of bells for countless generations.

The last time that the then eight bells were removed was in 1911 when they were all recast, poignantly just a few years before the Great War.

There has been a church dedicated to St Andrew in the town since around 1230. The tower contaning the bells was rebuilt in 1720.