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Bells rise from Workington church ashes to ring again

A set of handbells damaged in a fire at a Workington church 18 years ago has finally been restored.

RESTORATION MAN: Gareth Evans with the handbells that were damaged in a fire at St Michael’s Church, Workington, in 1994, which he has now restored

The 160-year-old bells were kept at St Michael’s Church and were damaged when a blaze gutted the building in 1994.

The ash-encrusted bells, which were thought to be cracked, were put away in 1995 and forgotten about until bellringer Gareth Evans, 60, of Brigham, near Cockermouth, found them in 2011.

He was able to restore eight of the bells in time for the church’s harvest festival in 2011 and then started work on the rest of them last June.

They are now being used by the church’s seven young bellringers.

Mr Evans said: “It has taken a lot of hard work and effort but that’s paid off. It’s wonderful to hear them being rung again.

“It’s great that our young bellringers at church are able to use them. They used to be rung by Scouts so we’re keeping up the tradition that youngsters can use them.”

After Mr Evans cleaned the handbells, a computer analysis was carried out to see if they matched the original tuning, and parts were sent up from Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London and fitted.

Church warden Eric Martin, who originally found the bells buried under ash from the fire, said: “He has spent many hours on the bells and has done a wonderful job.”

Have your say

Well done Times & Star getting the story first. I heard this story making a guest appearance on Radio Cumbria this morning (Monday 29th).

Posted by K Minogue on 29 January 2013 at 11:39

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