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Installation of Sound Control

When the tower was built, there were large openings to let the sound out. The sound close to the church must have been extremely loud, so at some point the openings were bricked up almost to the top, to restrict the level of sound. We don't know when this was done, perhaps some time early in the 20th century. Even so, by the 1970s, there were complaints from people living near the church. The band expanded and developed rapidly in the late '70s and early '80s, and we needed more ringing time to practice, not less.

The solution was to fit shutters that could be opened when ringing for services and other public occasions, and closed for practices and recreational ringing. That successfully stopped the complaints, while also allowing practices on more evenings, and practices that ended later, which better fitted the routine of ringers who commuted.

Sound control in 1982 was extremely rare, and there was little in the way of precedent or advice for suitable designs, so everything was designed from scratch. The shutters are double glazed, to reduce the sound but let in day light, with the outer layer using wired glass for safety, in hardwood frames.   They are opened and closed with cords that go down to the ringing room. The old brickwork that had partly blocked the openings was removed and replaced with 6" lightweight building block in which the shutters are mounted.

We obtained quotations for the whole job, but it was too costly, so the ringers did the work themselves, buying in the materials, and subcontracting construction of the shutters and frames. It was a long hard day's work for the whole band.

After installation, sound measurements at various places around the church confirmed that the sound reduction was close to the target figure of 20dB when the shutters were closed, and not a lot different from before with them open, except to the East, where the opening had not been quite so completely bricked up before.


Click each to enlarge and move between pictures using the arrows.

What we inherited
Old brickwork removed
Mixing mortar
Carry up the tower
Cutting blocks
Lifting blocks into place
Laying blocks
Wielding a trowel
Fitting a shutter
The job complete
Lunch break for some of the workers

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