The Bells of St Georges, Douglas, Isle of Man
Prior to December 1999, there had only ever been one bell in St. George's Tower apart from a set of tubular bells that had lain rusty and disused for many years. The bell concerned of approximately six hundred weight was a modern Taylors Bell cast in 1956, which itself had replaced an earlier bell. The 1956 bell, was hung in a wooden frame, and was equipped with a wheel and had at one time had a slider and stay. By the nineties it had been reduced to being struck by an electric chiming hammer.
In 1998 following the success of the project to recast and rehang the bells at Peel the then Vicar and Archdeacon of Man the Ven. Brian Partington instigated a project for the installation of a completely new ring of bells in St. George's. In fact this was not the first time this had been raised, there had been several quotes obtained over the years but this time the project was progressed. Two quotations were obtained one from Taylors and the other from Whitechapel. The quotation from Taylors was accepted by the PCC on the basis that the cost should not fall on general church funds but should be raised separately, from which was born the St. George's Church Millennium Fund Raising Project. Ultimately this raised over £100,000.
When it was found that St. George's Tower, owing to it's broadness, thick walls, squat, and well buttressed design was ideal for the installation of bells the original eight bell scheme was expanded to ten bells, in a twelve bell frame, to allow ten and ultimately twelve bell ringing on the Isle of Man. The original 1956 bell was to be retained as the six in the new ring. The ring was designed from its inception to be augmented to twelve.
In April 1999 the original stay and slider were found in the tower and refitted to the 1956 bell and although it had probably never been rung full circle since the day the bell hanger installed it in 1956 it was rung up and used to train a new band from scratch in time for the installation of the new ring later in the year. Practices subsequently took place at Peel whilst the work was being carried out on the tower.
In December 1999 the ten bells were installed and rung for the first time.
In 2001 the church received a substantial legacy and the PCC decided to complete the ring of twelve by the installation of two trebles. At the same time the ringers, who could always differentiate the original tone of the 1956 bell from the rest of the bells, sought to have the sixth of the original ten changed and two of our ringers paid to have the 1956 bell part exchanged for a new bell. The result was that by the Summer of 2001 there was a brand new ring of twelve all the bells of which had been cast within eighteen months of each other and designed as a complete ring of twelve from its inception.
There were two ringers of some experience who were available when the bells were installed in 1999 and we managed to find one or two ringers who had previously rung rounds and call changes and who returned to ringing after a long absence. The rest of the ringers until recently had been trained from scratch.