Ringing of the bells will mark the start of a project to restore them to former glory

Historical Chapels Trust conference on church regeneration was held at the grade 1 listed, Unitarian Church, Todmorden. Interior of church.
Historical Chapels Trust conference on church regeneration was held at the grade 1 listed, Unitarian Church, Todmorden. Interior of church.

The bells at a Todmorden church will be rung one more time on Saturday evening before being dismantled and removed for a major overhaul.

Todmorden Unitarian Church’s bells have fallen silent over the past couple of years.

But thanks to a legacy in the will of Todmorden bell-ringer Geoffrey Cheetham, the bells will be heard again next Spring.

Roland Jeffery, director of the Historic Chapels Trust, said: “Todmorden is only one of two unitarian churches in the country that has bells.

“Thanks to a generous legacy from Geoffrey Cheetham, who left us £46,985 in his will, we are able to ensure the bells are rung again.

“We look forward to hearing the wonderful sound of English change-ringing at weddings and functions next year.”

The work is being carried out by John Taylor and Co, of Loughborough – one of only two traditional bell foundries in the UK.

The deteriorating condition of the bells and their supporting frame meant they had become difficult to ring properly.

If not restored they could also become unsafe and rusting iron parts could cause the bronze bells to crack in two.

Mr Jeffery said: “While the bells are away being restored at the foundry, we aim to raise £10,000 for works in the tower itself.

“We need to make it safe for bell-ringers and maintenance staff to access the bell chamber and maintain the peal in good working order.”

Todmorden Unitarian Church was built between 1865-69 by Samuel, Joshua and John Fielden, the three sons of “Honest” John Fielden MP.

The church ceased to be used for regular worship in the 1990s.

The Historic Chapels Trust has since completed a £1 million repair programme, including the repair of the church roofs and stained glass, the rehabilitation of the listed lodge, and the refurbishment of the interior of the tower.

The historic landscape has been restored and modern facilities have been installed.

The church now hosts a wide range of secular events, including weddings and funerals.