What full-circle ringing bells look like

A while ago I was trying to find pictures or video of bells being rung with the cameras on the bells themselves to help explain what actually goes on.

I was looking for another picture in my archives and discovered a few I took in 2011 when we arranged a belfry maintenance course. The following pictures were taken at Rostherne tower in Cheshire, which are a rustic 6-bell installation, all wooden headstocks, plain bearings and about as traditional as you’re going to get.

As explained elsewhere, in the UK the bells are rung full-circle. The pictures below are all shown with the bells in the ‘down’ position with the mouth of the bell pointing towards the ground. when the bells are rung-up, imagine the bell at 180 degrees from the position in the picture, with the bell upturned and the wooden stay pointing down and resting on a slider on the frame to keep it in position. ¬†When in the up-position the bells are dangerous which is why all work is done on them when they’re in the safe down-position.

This is one of the six bells. You can see the wheel to the left which the rope travels around (and down to the ringer below), the wooden stay on the right poking up and the bell bolted to the wooden headstock.

A bell attached to a wooden headstock with traditional stay
A bell attached to a wooden headstock with traditional stay

Rostherne was used in the training for two reasons. Firstly as already mentioned it’s a very rustic installation compared to some of the modern arrangements in other towers, so it’s of interest from that end. Secondly, there’s plenty of room to move around the tower and walk on the frame, something you simply cannot do at Norbury!

A group we were training on belfry maintenance
A group we were training on belfry maintenance