Anniversary bell ringing at church

Bells at Christ Church in North Shields set ready to ring.
Bells at Christ Church in North Shields set ready to ring.

The newly-installed Team Rector of North Shields parish, Rev Canon Glyn Evans, has a busy year ahead of him at Christ Church.

In July, the congregation will celebrate the 350th anniversary of the consecration of the church, located on Preston Road.

Christ Church

Christ Church

But first up is the 230th anniversary of the arrival and ringing of the first six bells this evening.

The church bell ringers will mark the anniversary from 7pm by ringing the original bells followed by a loyal toast and the ringing of a method called Grandsire Minor.

During the tumultuous period between the American and French Revolutions, the south-west corner of Christ Church was extended and furnished.

The pews were, as was customary, auctioned off to the highest bidder – producing a profit of £600.

The building was much smaller than today, but the churchwardens felt the need to have a large imposing steeple with bells.

A petition was sent to the Bishop of Durham from a group of parishioners and townsfolk raising objections, but this was rejected and a Faculty granted for the steeple and bells.

A wealthy ship owner and churchwarden, James Storey Esq, gave the bells.

In 1787, the first six bells cast were lost at sea on their journey north in a sailing ship from the foundry of W & T Mears in London.

The second set arrived safely on a ship called The Happy Return, owned by Mr Davis Hewson of Whitburn.

Placed in the newly-completed steeple, the bells first rang out on January 18, 1788, to celebrate the official birthday of Queen Charlotte, consort of George III. The heaviest of the original six bells cracked and had to be recast in 1807.

Bells were donated in 1873 and 1878 to give a total fine ring of 10 bells hung for change ringing – the first in Northumberland and Durham.

The tradition of ringing the changes continues at Christ Church, with the enthusiastic team always looking for new recruits.

For more information, call Ringing Master Karen Dickinson on 07585 808018.