Leeds nostalgia: war time ban on tolling bells lifted

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A ban on ringing church bells other than to warn of imminent invasion by the enemy was lifted on this day in 1943.

The BBC was set to broadcast the ringing of the bells at York Minster on Sunday April 25 - they had not been heard since celebration peals for the Middle East victory the previous autumn. A report said the minster’s bells had been oiled and greased and new ropes installed in readiness.

Bellringers had been practising hard with handbells, while many were looking forward to hearing the heavy notes of Great Peter, one of the world’s heaviest bells.

The bell was cast at Taylor’s Bellfoundry in Loughborough on April 22, 1927. It arrived in York on Tuesday September 20. The formal dedication service was held on October 22.

There were also plans to have a full peal at Leeds Parish Church on the Sunday and others at St Michael’s and St Chad’s, Headingley.

The article said: “This will be only the third time in 36 months church bells will be called on to fulfil their ancient function - calling people to worship. The first occasion was the Allied success at El Alamein, the second was on the preceding Christmas Day but since June 1940, they had been reserved for warning of invasion.”

The article went on: “May the removal of the ban be regarded as an indication that Britain’s defences can no longer be taken by surprise by the enemy, no alternative signal having been suggested.”

There were also reports that Japan was preparing to attack the American mainland by air.

It said the distance between the two countries was no longer an issue.

It added the Allies destroyed a 6,000 ton Japanese cargo vessel in a raid on Wewak on the north east coast of New Guinea the previous week.