Beds, Herts & Bucks

Ashwell village church bells row resolved by 'quieter chimes'

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionSt Mary's Church bells in Ashwell are now quieter due to a volume reducing device

A row over whether a village's church bells could chime overnight has been resolved by a volume reducing device.

Ashwell, in Hertfordshire, had been divided by residents who said St Mary's quarter-hour chimes kept them awake at night, and others who liked them.

But now its bells are ringing round the clock again thanks to the gadget, and peace has been restored in the village.

The parish council said all parties were "happy that it's doing what it said it would".

Chairman Mark White said he was "so glad it was all over with".

The St Mary's bells have been ringing for more than 100 years, but were silenced while repairs were carried out three years ago.

Alternative solution

Following the repairs in June 2012, complaints led to an investigation by North Herts District Council (NHDC), which decided the chimes were "prejudicial to health".

Some residents believed the complainants moved to the village when the bells were silent.

In December 2013, Ashwell Parish Council took the decision to stop them chiming every 15 minutes between 23:00 and 07:00 GMT to avoid being issued with a noise abatement notice, although they could still ring on the hour.

Image caption The row caused tension in the village of Ashwell

Campaign group Save the Chimes claimed it was not what most of the village wanted and it was given time to develop and raise funds for an alternative solution.

Wayne Francis, of Clockwise Restorations, designed the Chime Volume Reduction Mechanism (CVRM) which, after a six-month trial, both the complainants and the council were happy with.

"The device applies a counter balance to the levers of the clock so that the hammers don't hit the bells so hard," he said.

Image caption A counter balance means the hammers don't hit the bells so hard
Image caption Five adjustors allow the amount of sound "dampening" to be changed

Mr White said: "All parties wanted it solved and everyone is happy at this moment in time.

"Hopefully it will help other people in other villages with the same problem."

NHDC said it was a "fitting compromise" and the authority had been "happy to support" the community while they "arrived at a local solution".

Councillor Bernard Lovewell said: "We are delighted that a solution has emerged and there was no need to exercise our statutory powers in this instance."

None of the complainants could be reached for comment.

Image caption The church bells now chime round the clock

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites