The Kingskerswell project by John Rees

A report of a presentation to the Mid-Devon branch by John Rees, using Zoom

We are sure that by now you will be well aware that the six bells at Kingskerswell have been transformed into a fine ring of eight. The story of how that happened was the subject of a fascinating talk by John Rees. John had bravely taken on the job of project managing this very ambitious project. His Powerpoint presentation told the story of the long haul from the first plans and tower inspections to the dedication and the first Quarter peal and Peal – over five years, in all.

What a story of ups and downs it was. Nowadays there are many hoops to go through and the fact that the project also covered much work in the church itself made it even more complicated and John described submitting over 500 pages of project plans before anything could be done. Even then it was far from plain sailing so perhaps it was good that an ex- Navy officer was in charge! John described all the highs and lows. Highs included the faculty being passed and a very enjoyable trip to Bridport to view progress. The lows included finding a bell to be cracked in the crown staple. This was then welded at extra expense only to find on tuning that the inside of the bell was doing a good impression of "Aero" chocolate and was un-tuneable. Even then the drama was not over as the Dutch foundry agreed to cast a new one quickly but in their haste had omitted the important inscription. Yet another casting had to follow quickly. Another unexpected high for the ringers was finding, on reading the inscription on the new bell, that it had been donated by their much-loved former vicar, John Leonard, who had been a great supporter of bells.

The removal of the bells had gone reasonably well but when the foundation of the new frame was put in someone got their sums wrong and modifications to the frame design had to be made by Nicholsons. Eventually the bells returned, and much hard work was put in by a band of volunteers sumptuously fed by the Kingskerswell ringers.

From all this it was clear that the ringers led by Philip Stevens and project managed by John had kept faith through thick and thin to bring about a fine new ring of eight in a church to be very proud of. Phase 2 of the project which includes a church extension and improved heating is now underway. Very many congratulations to them all.

John presented all this story in masterly fashion and there have been many congratulations to him. Presenting on Zoom is not easy as all the microphones of the listeners / watchers are turned off so there is no feedback. Once the main presentation was over John was able to answer the questions and comments and we are sure felt much relief!! Thank you John.