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Bid to keep historic church bell in Warrington

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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.”

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PICTURES MARSHA ROBERTS

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Experienced journalist for more than 35 years. Managing Director of magazine publishing group with six in-house titles and on-line daily newspaper for Warrington. Experienced writer, photographer, PR consultant and media expert having written for local, regional and national newspapers. Specialties: PR, media, social networking, photographer, networking, advertising, sales, media crisis management. Patron Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace. Trustee Warrington Disability Partnership. Former Chairman of Warrington Town FC.

6 Comments

  1. Sorry I feel a long reply coming on….
    It’s lovely that the church is getting some new bells at long last and the church/members have worked tirelessly in their fundraising campaign, to which I have also donated. To me though it is WRONG that this old bell is now in the hands of a foundry miles away and outside Warrington considering it was donated to the Church by John Crosfield (b1833-d1901) who as everyone knows was an important man in the town and who was also associated with St Thomas’ Church. Even if it is not melted down and is stored at the foundry for use in the future somewhere else like the bells that the church is now getting have been that still seems wrong.
    John Crosfield gave the bell to St Thomas’ in loving memory of his first wife Eliza, who sadly died when she was only 37 and after bearing him 5 sons and 4 daughters. She died in 1882 by the way not 1880 as mentioned in the article.
    The bell has Latin inscriptions on it too naming the Crosfields etc. John Crosfield, despite coming from a Quaker background, is buried in St Thomas’s graveyard too in the same grave as his first wife Eliza (who the bell was for) along with two of their children who were lost in childhood and two of his sisters. I hope they are not annoyed and turning in their graves 🙁
    Can it not be given to the museum for display considering it’s inscriptions, heritage value and connections to the Warrington Crosfield family ?
    It’s a shame there was no mention of the bell being removed and it’s history before it was removed yesterday as had there been something released to the press about it before now then maybe it could have been saved and a use found for it somewhere else locally 🙁

  2. I agree with you Diz. It doesn’t seem right that after being gifted to the church in memory of a loved one that it should just be melted down as scrap. The fact that “whatever happens now is out of (the Diocese committee’s) hands” sounds as though it has already been sold on.
    I think it should stay in Warrington but I wonder if it would be safe at the museum as they have a record for selling off the collections they hold.
    It shouldn’t be too difficult to raise the funds to keep it as it will only be the scrap value of the metal.
    I can’t understand why relics from our history seem to hold so little value to the ‘powers that be’ It wasn’t that long ago the forge machinery was removed to a scrap yard.

  3. Update received tonight;
    The bell is now the property of John Taylor Foundry. It first needs cleaning of years of debris, this plus recycling, metal value is £8,882. The transport cost of bringing it back to Warrington would be £312. So the cost of saving it would be £9,194. If anyone wants to buy it back, they will have to raise funds quickly (within 3 weeks) as if not purchased it will be melted down and the metal used to make new bells. John Taylor Foundry would be willing to accept an initial 50% within the 3 weeks to retain the bell, and perhaps a little longer for the remaining 50%.
    So £4,600 needs to be raised fast!
    NB. As well as the £9,194 to purchase and bring the bell back, there will also be additional costs for mounting it for display – (wherever it may be proposed to go).
    £10k or so is not a great amount for a piece of ‘heritage art’ these days. Perhaps the biggest problem would be finding a suitable site. I think It would look lovely mounted in the forge shopping centre with a striker for kids to ping it as they go past but it would probably be stolen by scrap metal thieves within days! A suitable SECURE site would need to be found.

  4. Pingback: Crosfield Bell | Dan Warren

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