Church bell back ringing the hours 80 years after WW2 bombing – and neighbours submit noise complaints

St Paul's West Hackney.

St Paul's West Hackney. - Credit: Archant

The sound of a Stoke Newington church bell ringing the hours for the first time in 80 years has been met with noise complaints from two neighbours.

St Paul's West Hackney was built in 1960 on the site of the old West Hackney Church, which was bombed out in the Second World War.

To mark the church's 60th birthday, and the 80th anniversary of the bombing, Rev Niall Weir wanted to make the church bell ring not only for worship, but on the hour and half-hour as it had done at the old building.

The idea was apparently "universally popular" and parish clerk Michael Broadway, who also maintains the organ at St Paul's Cathedral, paid the £6,500 for the digital ringing mechanism himself.

But months after its return, it seems the joy hasn't been shared by everyone. Two neighbours have lodged statutory nuisance complaints with Hackney Council and could bring an end to the ringing once more.

Rev Weir, who wrote to 80 people about the ringing, has now responded to the pair offering to meet and discuss the issue.

He said: "I'm sad we are clearly causing the complainants some distress, which would never be our intention. I'm sad the complainants appear not to have accepted my offer of a personal conversation with them on the matter and that if their complaint is upheld, an abatement notice could be served on St Paul's Church and the bell could be silenced once again.

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"We're simply not in the business of creating a statutory nuisance and if we are judged to be, we will respond accordingly."

Rev Weir said the hours the bells ring could be cut back as a compromise, but highlighted the existing hours were chosen due to a dispute elsewhere in the UK, in which a council banned a church from ringing its bell to mark all 24 hours of the day, but said 7am to 10am was reasonable.

He also revealed a council environmental health officer told him they were "mystified" as to why a bell was necessary at all.

"In their opinion, it's now 2020 and we all have watches and phones to tell us the time and so we don't need public clocks and bells any more," said Rev Weir. "I did wonder how he views Big Ben and the clock of St Paul's Cathedral!"

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