THEY’RE finally here – and the bells of Sunderland Minster should soon be ringing out across the city.
Work started last month to repair the tower at the High Street West church, after its eight bells were taken down in 2009.
A drive to raise £150,000 was launched to buy the bells, and replace the Minster’s broken clock.
The new bells have now been delivered and efforts will soon be under way to have them put into position.
The race is now on to get the bells in place in the Minster’s tower and chiming away across Sunderland in time for the Diamond Jubilee celebration weekend, in June.
The Reverend Martin Anderson, of Sunderland Minster, said: “It’s a really exciting bit of progress to know now, after three years of waiting, that the bells that have been reconditioned and two new bells that have been cast are back in Sunderland ready for ringing in celebration of the Queen’s Jubilee.
“The workers are now on site to install the new frame and the 10 bells.”
Rev Anderson said it would be “beautiful” to hear the bells ringing out in time for this summer’s jubilee celebrations.
“We’ve got a lot of big things happening in Sunderland this summer, like when the Olympic torch comes to the city, and we want to make sure that the Minster is ringing out for that time.”
Formed in 2000, Friends of the Minster was set up to raise funds to pay for capital projects such as the installation of new bells. The group wanted the Minster to increase its bells from eight to 10.
The Minster then discovered that the bells’ rickety old frame had started to move, meaning that two of the chimes were out of action.
The tower in which the bells will be placed dates from Saxon times.
After years of work and problem solving related to the job, a new team was recruited with architects Beaumont Brown, Pembletons Bell Engineers and Minster deputy administrator Chris Mitchell, who has a background in engineering, to complete the improvements.
Mr Mitchell said: “I would say it should be done by early June.”
Services at the Minster will continue as normal during the work.