Bells fall silent over Easter at town’s minster

The bells will stop ringing at Dewsbury Minster until repairs are carried out.
The bells will stop ringing at Dewsbury Minster until repairs are carried out.

With ‘cracking’ puns aplenty this week, a church is being forced to use the word for a less celebratory reason this Easter.

The main bell at Dewsbury Minster, which has rung proudly over the town for more than 140 years, was recently found to contain several cracks during an inspection and is in need of major repair.

Derek and Ronalda Johnstone. Derek is tower captain at Dewsbury Minster.

Derek and Ronalda Johnstone. Derek is tower captain at Dewsbury Minster.

But until £5,000 can be raised to cover the cost of fixing the town’s chiming treasure, it will remain silent.

The Dewsbury Easter Bell Restoration appeal is set to be launched on Easter Sunday by calling on the community to dig deep.

Tower captain for the minster, Derek Johnstone, said it was only when he was recently up in the bell tower was the damage noticed.

He said: “When I saw the cracks my eyes nearly popped out of my head. I stopped ringing it straight away and arranged for a professional to look at it.

“He said he could tell by the sound that it had diminished.”

The bell, made by the Big Ben creator John Warner & Sons, was first hung in Dewsbury Minster in 1875, but then re-hung in 1964, when it was suspected the initial damage may have been caused.

It now needs welded repair work carrying out before it corrodes beyond repair.

“Over the years the gradual movement has made it worse, added Mr Johnstone.

“We’ve been told it could break off at any point.

“The repair work cannot take place in the tower, it has to be taken to Newmarket where a specialist has the kiln and skills to do a good repair.

“We’ve just had our AGM and we are only just managing to break even, and that’s before we pay half the diocese fees we owe from last year, which is £40,000.

“To find another £5,000 for this could be difficult.

“We can appeal for some grant money but we’re going to have to get stuck and arrange fundraising.”