As a church we have both a spiritual responsbility to our community and a practical responsibility to look after the listed buildings we use.
Time stood still on Friday 18th March 2011 when it was noticed that the bells had struck 9 o’clock but the hands on the south facing clock of St Mary's tower were showing 6.30am!
Chris Wadge and Churchwarden Carole Wyatt went to the tower to investigate and saw the Minute Hand hanging free at the half hour position. By juggling the clock movement the minute hand fell (excalibur fashion!) into the ground below the tower! By Monday 21st March a quote had been received from the Cumbria Clock Co to manufacture and replace the rod for £690.00 plus VAT. The clock had been overhauled the year before, but as this didn't include the clock face it wasn't covered by the guarantee. If we could get the broken rod and minute hand to them it would save a visit and lessen the charge.
John Cullingford was approached for the use of his long ladder inside the tower to disconnect the hand motion work and remove the minute hand drive rod so that we could send it to Cumbria Clocks. John, with the technical expertise of Chris below the ladder with his drawings, helped remove the remains of minute arbor using a trusted wood mallet. Then the hour hand and its tube was removed; with brave Carole on the church battlements slowly feeding a rope eye down around the hour hand and Chris in the churchyard holding the other end of the rope whilst the hand was slowly pulled out of the center of the clock face and lowered to the ground.
Our local Blacksmith, Richard Jesse, was approached by Carole to see what he made of the rusty bits of the minute rod and he suggested that he could repair the old one to keep down the cost, but if we could get a rod of ½ inch Stainless Steel it wouldn’t happen again. A trip to the Metal Supermarket in Southampton by Chris secured us a 2 meter length of stainless steel rod suitable for the task. The blacksmith cut a thread on the end of the rod to take the Hand nut and then milled a square to match the hole in the hand and apart from the length, it was ready for use.
So we now had the hour hand pipe and the minute hand rod ready to be put back in the clock face and their respective hands ready to be secured back on. John Cullingford reinserted the hour pipe and minute rod and we were all ready to have the hands refitted. All we needed now was an abseiler! Enter Peter from the Choir and a member of the International Knot Tyers association who knew someone called Richard from Bristol who was prepared to don his harness and lower himself down to the clock face and reattach the hands. A Date was fixed and on Monday 11th April 2011 at about 10am, before a small band of followers, Richard did his thing and the clock was restarted. Many thanks to everyone who made it happen.
Work to open up the space at the back of the church and lay a new Purbeck stone floor is now complete. The new space was well used during Sixpenny Handley’s Spring Fayre on 29th March. The font can now be moved into its new position in front of the tower, planned for early June.
The toilet and storage cupboards in the base of the tower are finished and looking splendid. This would not have been possible without your financial support and the hard work of many people. Our thanks especially to Graham Dye, our builder and his workmen, and our architect John Turnball.
Thanks to a substantial grant, Phase 2 can now go ahead and will be completed in time for the Spring Fayre. This phase will see a new limestone floor laid across the back of the church to make a new social area and space for the restored font.
Phase 1 of The 50K Challenge building project began in early February 2010. This will see the inside of the tower modified with the installation of a toilet and improved storage facilities. A trench is being dug around the back of the church to link the toilet to the existing drainage at the Vicarage.
To ensure full disabled access to the new toilet, the floor of the tower is being lowered. A smart glass screen will close the tower off, whilst allowing light to flood in from the window at the back of the tower.
The font has already been moved out of the tower to under go restoration before being placed in front of the glass screen in the new welcome area at the back of the church.
Click here to see the latest photos of the building work.
Before we could install the toilet into the tower of the church we had to do something about the weights from the clock which drop down all the way to the floor!
The solution was to fit an auto-winder which meant that the weights would get wound back up by an electric motor after a set distance. Our thanks go to Chris Wadge and Steve from the Post Office for all their hard work towards making this project successful. The auto-winder was installed in September with the work on protecting the bells completed in October. They now strike the hour once more.
Fitting the auto-winder has also helped us reduce our health and safety risks by requiring much fewer trips up the tower - mostly to change the hour at the start and end of British Summer Time.
April 2008 saw us embark on a challenging programme of works that aimed to improve the way we use the church and its facilities. For us to fulfil our vision of reaching the wider village, and to support and encourage all in their spiritual lives, we started the 50K Challenge. This has given us both a focus to all the different fund raising events, as well as providing a constant reminder of our finacial goal.
As we begin 2009 we can report that we are now about half way and will begin some of the building work in the Spring. There is still a long way to go, so please keep those fund raising ideas coming...
This hand painted board, framed at the back of the church, shows what the village achieved in 1830 (click the image to to see the full board). In today's money it cost them over £45,000. This is our challenge - to raise £50,000 for important repairs to our listed buildings and to make improvements that will benefit God's work.
A leaflet explaining ours plans in full will distributed throughout the parish in April. If you've misplaced your copy a PDF version can be download here.