The Bath & Wells Diocesan Association of Change Ringers

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Tower Advisory Service

The Association's Tower Advisory Service provides a free initial inspection and report service to all towers within the geographical are of the Diocese of Bath & Wells. The primary objective is to provide impartial advice on the state of the bell installation and tower. When grant aided work is complete, a final inspection will confirm that the work is of a satisfactory standard and grant monies will be released. It is a condition of receiving a grant from the Bell Fund that an Initial inspection is carried out before work is scheduled to begin.

Whilst the management of a bell tower is most frequently delegated to the Tower Captain and his or her band it is important that we recognise the Parochial Church Council (PCC) principal officers as the "owners" of everything within the church. Inevitably the request will often have originated from the Tower Captain and he or she will remain fully involved in the process. Inspection and grant requests should be made by a principal PCC officer to the Association General Secretary, who will then arrange a Tower Advisory Service inspection as appropriate and advise the PCC on their eligibility and the process to apply for a grant from the Bell Fund.

PCC officers and their Tower Captains are reminded that a Faculty from the Chancellor of the Diocese is needed for every repair, alteration or addition (including disposals and other transactions) to a Church of England church, its contents, the churchyard and the land belonging to it. The tower envelope and contents is a part of the church building and it is subject to the same rules and procedures of the Faculty Jurisdiction.

Each Branch of the Association is able to nominate a Bell Maintenance Contact (BMC). Tower Captains are able to seek local advice from the BMC on the day-to-day routine maintenance of bells, frames, fittings and ropes. If it is clear that the church's PCC Secretary should be requesting an Association Tower Advisory Service inspection, then the BMC so recommends. The Association does not give the BMC authority to perform inspections or to write reports on behalf of the Association or the Branch, and the BMC must therefore decline such requests.

The Church Buildings Council (CBC), previously known as the Council for the Care of Churches, is a permanent Commission of the General Synod of the Church of England. PCC officers and their Tower Captains need to be familiar with the CBC's Code of Practice for the Conservation and Repair of Bells and Bellframes 1993 (re-printed 2002) obtainable from the Church Buildings Council, Church House Publishing, Church House, Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3NZ. A 2007 downloadable version is now available on the website This Code of Practice carries the endorsement of the CBC's Bells Committee, the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers (CCCBR), English Heritage, and of the professional bell founders and bell hangers of the trade.

Practical help on Tower Maintenance and bell related matters can be found in the online CCCBR publications list. A good practical guide to bell maintenance with plenty of diagrams can be found in their publication "Schedule of Regular Maintenance". More detailed explanations can be found in the 400-page "Tower Handbook", a compendium of information and advice on every aspect of ringing, designed for browsing and easy reference in the tower. The "Towers and Bells Handbook" is a hardback reference book covering bells, towers, tower oscillation, bell frames, bell gear, sound control and maintenance. All these and many others are available by post through the CCCBR.

Other procedural and technical documents have been placed on the CCCBR website,, under the heading Stewardship & Management.

John Hallett