WARRINGTON Civic Society is hoping an ancient bell which has been removed from St Thomas’ Church at Stockton Heath, can be kept in the town.
The one ton 136-year-old tolling bell, valued at between £7,000-£10,000, has not seen active service for decades and was donated to the church by local industrialist John Crosfield in 1880 in memory of his wife – and the Civic Society would like it to remain in the town.
They have been approached by a local businessman who is expressed an interested in paying for it to stay in Warrington.
Meanwhile the removal of the bell by contractors John Taylor & Co from Loughborough – the same company who installed it, will provide a new lease of life for eight ringing bells which have been removed from a church at Bollington near Macclesfield, where St Thomas’s vicar Rev Michael Ridley was a former curate.
Rev Ridley said: “We have gone through the due process with the Diocese Advisory Committee for the bell to be removed and its removal has been incorporated into the costs of the work. It will either be found a new home or melted down. What happens to it now is beyond our control.
“The old tolling bell has not seen active service for decades and we will be giving a new lease of life to eight other bells.
“Looking at old church records people had to pay six pence if they wanted the bell to toll at a funeral.
“It was totally unsuitable to work alongside other bells.”
The Church is still fund-raising towards ongoing works on the church tower which has involved a £250,000 Heritage Lottery grant with a further £80,000 towards the cost of installing the new bells.
The church currently uses a recording of bells for services.
Meanwhile John Taylor and Co have returned the bell to their foundry where its condition and tone will be assessed.
Warrington Civic Society has been approached by a local businessman willing to contribute towards keeping this unique piece of heritage in the town.
Civic Society Chairman John Shipley said: “We are currently gathering information on the bell and exploring the possible options.”