In mid 2001 Mr Ron Shepherd approached the Camden Parish with a proposal to install a peal of six bells in the bell tower at St James to compliment the existing fine bell tower in its prominent location. As a member of A.N.Z.A.B. (Australian New Zealand Association of Bell Ringers) Ron had been involved with the installation of bells at St Peters Armidale, All Saints Singleton, St Mathews Albury, St Andrews Lismore and others.
St Johns Camden, parish council agreed to proceed provided that no church funds would be required.
A St James Bell Project committee led by Trevor Eirth was formed in late 2001to manage the project.
Five bells (l, 2, 4, 5 and 6) were acquired by Ron, two were located at his residence and three were located at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in the UK. As no further second hand bells were available a new no 3 bell was purchased.
Steps involved in the project included:
Checking of the tower structural adequacy.
Obtaining working drawings for the support steelwork and floor.
Removal of the existing single bell - now stored in the belltower.
Due to limited space and the need to retain the heritage air vents without alteration it was necessary to construct and temporarily install timber model bells to test the viability of the plans.
After receipt of the drawings fabrication of the steelwork, installation was undertaken using congregation labour.
Fabrication and fitting of four adjustable sound control dampers with congregation labour.
Relocation of the two bells from Ron's residence and the three from Whitechapel to Camden Museum where they proved to be a popular attraction. The bells remained on display for some time prior to being transported to Menangle.
Arrange the supply of clappers ex UK, and ropes, pulleys and bearings from Australia.
The purchase and installation of the peal of six bells was made possible by the support of the bellringing fraternity, many hours of voluntary labour and significant support from the local community. A plaque was placed in the entry to the church acknowledging contributions.
The newly formed parish of Menangle dedicated the bells at a special service at 10am on Sunday, 24th July 2005. Former Archbishop of Sydney, Harry Goodhew gave the address and dedicated the peal of bells.
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