Church celebrates completion of major restoration project

PUBLISHED: 16:00 10 April 2019

Bell ringers St Augustines Church in Locking, unveiling its church bells restoration project.	Picture: Jeremy Long

Bell ringers St Augustines Church in Locking, unveiling its church bells restoration project. Picture: Jeremy Long

(C)2016 Jeremy Long / JCLPhotography, all rights reserved

Members of St Augustines Church in Locking rejoiced on Saturday to mark the end of a vast overhaul project to repair the place of worship.

The Archdeacon of Bath with Rector of Locking and Hutton Anne Wilkins and councillor Mike Cooper.	Picture: Jeremy LongThe Archdeacon of Bath with Rector of Locking and Hutton Anne Wilkins and councillor Mike Cooper. Picture: Jeremy Long

A day of celebrations was held to commemorate the villagers’ efforts, who raised £160,000 to complete the scheme – with the help of a £40,000 grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The Archdeacon of Bath, Adrian Youings, led a service on the day and people could explore the church tower, learn about bell ringing and view historical displays at the event.

Deputy churchwarden Simon Beecham said: “The get-together celebrated the restoration of the church tower and the bells inside it.

“Quite a few families attended and up to 40 people visited the chamber to see it unveiled after 18 months of restoration work.

“People relished the opportunity to take part in open church bell ringing, and up to 20 ringers in Locking, Worle, Weston and as far as Plymouth chimed along with us on the day.”

Since April 2017 the church has put on concerts, garden events and coffee mornings to raise the amount needed to carry out the works.

This came after a survey concluded the building’s damp and rotting bell beams made the area dangerous to enter.

South West restoration company Ellis and Nicholson Engineering were enlisted to carry out the repairs and a separate contractor fixed 12 of the church’s hand bells – which are thought to be around 120 years old.

The congregation members have also been encouraging primary school children to get involved in the scheme by teaching them about the church’s history.

The building is home to some of the oldest bells in the country, with one dating from 1380 and others from 1720 and the 1800s.

Churchwarden Mary French said: “A great effort was made by all to raise funds for and to complete this incredible achievement.

“The project required intensive and complex management, credit goes to Simon Begent whose expertise, time and technicality made this possible.

“Our much-loved bells are ringing out once more.”

The National Lottery grants vary from £3,000 to £5million and since 1994 the company has distributed £7.9billon to more than 43,000 heritage projects.

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