Bells well that ends well
Historic chimes from St James’ have a new home
Historians have won their battle to save eight bells from a former Kirk.
The Scottish Association of Change Ringers ( SACR) will rehome the chimes from St James’ Church in Paisley.
They were cast 135 years ago and experts warned they could be lost if another tower is not found to house them.
Fraser Carlin, head of planning and housing at Renfrewshire Council, gave the go-ahead to remove them from the Underwood Road building in a report to members.
He said: “St James’ Church is a fine Gothic revival church designed by Hippolyte Blanc in 1880.
“The church was dissolved in May two years ago and is currently vacant.
“The building came onto the open market last September, and the particulars of the sale note that various items, including the bells, may not be included.
“The SACR seeks to remove the bells so that they can be placed in safe storage until a new home can be found.
“The removal would entail the temporary disassembling of a decorative wooden ceiling and window with mullion.
“However, all elements would be reinstated once the bells have been removed.
“The church at St James’ has now been dissolved and it is highly unlikely that the building will be used as a church again in the future.
“The applicant has advised that there is an opportunity now to remove the bells and safeguard them for future use.
“I would consider this to be more desirable than the bells remaining unused and non- maintained at best, or, at worst, being discarded.”
The bells are in the key of E flat — with the heaviest weighing more than a tonne.
SACR is working with the Keltek Trust — which helps find new uses for church bells across the UK — to find another kirk near Paisley.
They insist the artefacts are a “fine example” of changeringing bells and were cast at the John Taylor Bell Foundry of Loughborough in 1882.
Workmen will lower the chimes through a series of trapdoors.
Mr Carlin added: “A key material consideration in assessment of this application is the consultation response from Historic Environment Scotland.
“While it has not objected to the application, it has outlined a preference for the bells to remain in situ until a future use for the building is established.
“The contribution that church bells make to the character and understanding of church buildings mainly derives for their function, which is to ring when services are being held and also to identify the time.
“At St James’, the bells are not visible from public vantage points within and outwith the building.”
The SACR insists the historic bells could be lost or damaged if they are not removed and could be boarded up or broken down by developers in the future.
The chimes have been removed from the church once – to retune them in 1909.
Eight bells will toll