Sheffield Cathedral set to ring changes

Gigantic bells outside Sheffield Cathedral on their way to be recast

Gigantic bells outside Sheffield Cathedral on their way to be recast

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Sheffield Cathedral bellringers are ringing the changes with a fundraising event next week to help add to the city’s historic bells.

Vicky Romégoux from Sheffield Cathedral Bellringers, said the group is holding an event next Friday to help raise £20,000 for a new bell.

She said that the city was a leading centre for bellringing in the 19th century and added that more recently, many people will have been involved in ringing at 23 Sheffield district churches which have bells.

The pictures shown here include a group of bellringers at the cathedral who were chosen to broadcast on BBC radio on Christmas morning 1946.

Others include photographs of the fire in the ringing chamber in 1979, which destroyed many peal boards commemorating feats of ringers in the 18th and 19th centuries and nearly destroyed the newly-restored bells themselves.

An intruder got into the tower on the evening of Monday, July 17 and set fire to the carpet. His warning call to the fire brigade led to a cursory examination and it wasn’t until flames were seen coming out of the windows in the early morning that the alarm was raised.

The fire was put out just before it reached the clock room below the bells.

On the next Thursday, using ropes borrowed from ‘over the road’, the local band rang bells as a respite from clearing up.

The Parish Church of St Peter, which became the cathedral in 1913, obtained a ring of six bells in1689.

The ring of eight was augmented to 10 in 1798 and to 12 in 1868, with the biggest tenor bell weighing 40cwt.

By the end of the 1960s the bells were becoming increasingly difficult to ring and it was decided to have them re-hung on a steel frame.

When the work started in 1968, however, several bells were found to be cracked, so recasting was needed. The sheer size of the bells can be seen in the photograph on P1, which was taken when they were waiting to go to the foundry in London.

They were removed from the belfry on to the floor of the cathedral and lowered through two large trapdoors.

It was decided to purchase a new, lighter ring of 12, with the ringers themselves raising the money for a flat sixth. The new bells were opened in 1970.

Friday’s fundraising event, Ringing the Changes, takes place at the cathedral at 7.30pm and features the Last Whole Turn ceilidh band, lute player Stewart McCoy, The Beekeepers chamber folk group, The Gamebirds harmony group and harpist Heather Ashton.

There’s also the chance to learn lots more about the history of bellringing with demonstrations of handbells by the Cathedral Company of Change Ringers, plus folk dancing and historical readings.

Tickets cost £8 for adults and £6 for children or students. They are on sale at the cathedral shop or online at www.sheffieldcathedral.org