Fixed bells' fate unclear

Last updated 08:28 06/01/2014
Christ Church Cathedral Bells
Supplied

ENDURING RELICS: The 13 bells from the quake-damaged Christ Church Cathedral are being repaired at the same place they were originally cast.

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Christ Church Cathedral's damaged bells will soon make their way home after being repaired in Britain.

The 13 bells have sat at John Taylor & Co The Bellfoundry in the English Midlands town of Loughborough since October 2012.

After hanging in the cathedral tower for nearly 33 years, the 1970s-made bells fell in the February 22, 2011 earthquake and were buried in the debris of the destroyed tower.

They were retrieved six months later. Then, after being stored at Ferrymead Historic Park, they were loaded into containers in July 2012 and sent 18,600 kilometres across the world for essential maintenance.

Foundry director Paul Mason told the Leicester Mercury that the set - ranging in weight from 250kg to one tonne - would be ready to be shipped back to Christchurch by March.

"We are in the process of replacing the head stocks, wheels, clappers - basically anything that goes with the ringing bell," he said. "We've had to recast one completely, due to the damage, and we've melted down the original bell metal, which we'll use to create a new one."

The cost of repair is about $120,000 and the bells themselves are valued at about $600,000.

New ringing fittings would be provided for all the bells.

General manager Richard Grimmett said that when the bells were returned to his works he was shocked at the damage.

However, closer inspection revealed 12 of the 13 bells were in better condition than feared and that they really only required new fittings.

"The remaining bell is being recast, and it is poignant and moving that these fine musical instruments, which have been subjected to such trauma, will be triumphant in continuing to ring over Christchurch in the near future," he said.

However, it was unclear what would be done with them as the fate of the cathedral itself, and whether it would be demolished and rebuilt or restored, was subject to various legal wranglings.

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- The Press

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