Bells will be ringing out for Christmas...

New bells for Christ Church, Sowerby Bridge
New bells for Christ Church, Sowerby Bridge

the bells will ring out at a Sowerby Bridge church after more than 30 years of silence - just in time for Christmas.

Back in 1866, Victorian industrialists in the town installed the latest bell ringing technology - steel bells - in the tower of Christ Church, Wharf Street.

Over the years, the bells fell into disrepair and were removed in 1983 for safety reasons after dry rot was uncovered.

The cost of repairing them was astronomical and so they were sold and stored at architectural salvage company Andy Thornton, Greetland, for a number of years. Their home today is Beamish Museum in County Durham.

But this month, a new electronic bell sound system is being installed.

It will bring more than three decades of silence to an end - and could also form a vital part of the town’s flood response plan.

Helen Pedley, chair of the Parochial Church Council, said: “The idea to “Restore the voice of Christ Church” was initially proposed in November last year, when we first thought about returning to the custom of ringing bells to inform everyone that services were being held.

“Like the Victorians we have looked for today’s modern technology replacement. This is a digital bell sound system, which reproduces the sound of traditional church bells with a number of differently programmed peals, with the subtle harmonic resonance of the original bells.

“Not only will the church use them for services, weddings and funerals but after the Boxing Day floods a bespoke “alarm” sound has been commissioned and it is planned to use this as a warning as part of the flood response plans for Sowerby Bridge.”

The project has been a year in the making and was made possible thanks to a £5,000 grant from the Community Foundation for Calderdale.

The church is now working to incorporate the use of the system as an alarm into flood response planning by the Environment Agency, Sowerby Bridge flood wardens and Calderdale Council.

Awareness events and opportunities to hear the alarm being tested are in the pipeline once plans have been released.