In 1785, following an auction of pews in the newly completed southwest
extension to the church, the churchwardens found themselves with a surplus
of £600. They decided that they wanted to spend this money on the erection
of a steeple 25 feet square and 82 feet high to hold six bells
In a petition read out in church on the 23rd April 1786 it stated
that the church had one bell "a very bad one" being an Old
Ship Bell and that the Parish was "wide and extensive" and
that much the greater part of the Parish are at such a distance that
the present bell cannot be heard".
The petition ended by
stating that a steeple would be "highly ornamental" and that
it would cost £500 to erect the steeple and £283 for the six bells.
The extra £183 would be raised, they reasoned, through the auctioning
of the pews which would be placed in the gallery on the first floor
of the new steeple
On hearing the petition a number of influential
parishioners presented a list of objections stating that, amongst other
things, part of the £600 profit had been promised to the Vicar as an
increase to his stipend, that the proposed tower had been designed by
unskilled people, that one large bell in an arch or cupola would be
equally well heard throughout the parish and that the money would be
better spent on the education of poor children in the town and neighbourhood.
The objections were rejected and a Faculty was granted.
advantage was taken during restoration work on the tower to have adjustable
sound control fitted to the new louvered openings on all four sides
of the bell chamber. The large openings were closed up with concrete
blocks leaving spaces for wooden hoppers with lids which could be closed
during practices and peal attempts. The results were very successful
enabling practice times to be increased and more visiting bands accommodated
during the day.