Stapleford council vote to support heritage bell restoration

The 976kg bell in Stapleford Chapel, cast in 1885, has been silent for more than 30years.
The 976kg bell in Stapleford Chapel, cast in 1885, has been silent for more than 30years.

Stapleford Town Council has voted to support the restoration of an historic bell in the town’s cemetery which has been silent since the 1970s.

At a meeting, members unanimously agreed to lend their support to Broxtowe Borough Council’s ongoing works at Stapleford Chapel.

Given to the town by lace manufacturer Joseph Fearfield in 1880, the Grade II-Listed building fell out of use more than 30 years ago, and owing to disrepair and vandalism has recently been placed on Derbyshire County Council’s at-risk register.

Councillor Richard MacRae, a member of both the town and borough councils, said: “Broxtowe have spent a small fortune on the building in the last few years, and the town council has agreed to help finance work on the bell.

“We already have some money for the project, and will be looking into other sources. The estimates say we will need around £8,000.”

The bell was cast by Beeston firm John Taylor & Co in 1885, and the company has been advising on options for restoration.

It is 120 centimetres in diameter, weighs 976 kilograms, and was originally silenced due to structural concerns with the spire which have now been remedied.

The mechanism was designed to automatically ring 12 times at midday, but no decision has been made whether that should be reactivated and it could be replaced by a programmable electronic timer.

Coun MacRae said: “We will work with Broxtowe to find a solution.

“It may not ring every hour, it might just be used for special occasions.”

The ambition to hear the bell ring again is just one part of a wider plan to bring the chapel back into public use.

Councillors hope to see the site become a community facility, used for meetings and election polls, as well as services of remembrance, funerals and perhaps even weddings.

Coun MacRae said: “The cemetery is still in use for burials, so it would be nice to open the chapel up.

“People go there to remember their loved ones, and I’d like there to be somewhere they could sit out of the cold if they wanted a few minutes to think.”

He added: “My feeling is that the cemetery was donated to the people of Stapleford, and we should take care of it. This is part of our history and we are responsible for it.”

A report from Broxtowe Borough Council noted: “Once the site is in use it would secure maintenance funding and have a solid future.”