UK Registered Charity Number: 1154107

Conservation by Re-use

Helping churches acquire surplus and/or redundant bells to be hung for

English-style full-circle bell-ringing.

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The Keltek Trust was formally registered as a charity in early 1997. However one of the activities which led to the trust’s formation, namely the production and distribution of the Surplus & Required Bell Lists had been in operation for a number of years and was the mechanism which helped locate bells for a number of projects. The events leading to the trust’s formation are as follows:

I was first introduced to the second-hand bell market through the efforts of Father David Cawley, then vicar of Eastville, Bristol and Bells Adviser to the Bristol Diocese. I was co-ordinating the restoration and augmentation of the unringable peal of 4 bells at Claverton, Somerset on behalf of the Bath branch of the Bath & Wells DACR which had offered to fund the casting of a bell to mark the centenary of the Association in 1990. The bell-hangers quotations showed a negligible increase for the provision of a six-bell frame instead of a five-bell frame. Enquiries were made for a suitable second-hand bell and David offered to sell a redundant Jefferies & Price bell for £275. Although there were some doubts as to its tonal qualities, it was purchased by the church authorities and Nigel Taylor of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry showed his skill by tuning  the newly cast Centenary bell and the Jefferies & Price bell to match the existing Warner treble and three John Lott tenors (1637) which were not re-tuned.

The original intention for the 1990’s restoration at St Saviour’s, Larkhall, Bath was to re-hang the heavy ring lower in the tower. However bell-hangers reports indicated the ring was too heavy for the tower and it was decided to remodel the ring. A letter placed in the 28th June 1991 issue of The Ringing World offering four surplus bells for sale elicited three responses. Those from Ray Arscott, at the time the Bath & Wells DACR bell adviser and Ron Shepherd of Albury, NSW, Australia resulted in the sale of two bells at advantageous prices to both seller and buyers (Bicknoller & Griffith). The two remaining bells were sold for scrap but through the efforts of Bob Parker, the Taunton based bell-hanger, they too were eventually re-used as ringing bells at Langford Budville and St John’s, Glastonbury.

The sale of the Larkhall bells brought renewed correspondence with Father David Cawley and Rev. Peter Newing and more importantly a pooling of information. By 1993 the number of enquiries for bells justified the circulation of required and available bell details. Initially the geographical area covered was Somerset, Bristol, Gloucestershire and Australia. This was soon to change as enquiries were starting to come from other counties and in early 1994 the “lists” received a boost when Bob Smith (Eayre & Smith Ltd) and Alan Hughes (Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd) offered to supply details of bells held by their respective companies which were available for re-use. By December 1994 all the major UK bell-founders and bell-hangers were co-operating with the scheme. A conscious decision was taken not to seek publicity until the impact of second-hand bell trade could be assessed on the bell-founders. Even without publicity the number of enquires to buy or sell bells continued to rise:- 1991 to 1993 : 13, 1994: 49, 1995: 36, 1996: 56.

Our main operational difficulty was the total reliance on bell-founders and bell-hangers to provide bell tonal analysis information. What was needed was a cheap and simple method of analysing the sound of a bell without the need of “bothering” the trade. By mid 1995 this problem had been overcome; Recordings made on standard audio cassette tapes could be analysed by PC software with an accuracy of better than ±1%. A second development was the simulation of prospective augmentations by using PC Sound Blaster software to mix the sound of existing and proposed additional bells. This technology was used to good effect to simulate the sound of the ancient four bells at Immingham (average age nearly 500 years old) with the addition of two medieval bells from the pre-1995 Bishopstoke ring. Although by current standards the bells are not well in tune, the overall effect was of an interesting and not unpleasant sounding ancient ring of bells.