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Bristol Rural Branch
Iron Acton (St James the Less)

St James the Less, Iron Acton - click for a larger version

Name or Dedication: St James the Less

Location: Iron Acton, Gloucestershire

Grid Reference: ST680834

Ellacombe records two bells here in 1881, the larger of these being the present tenor, and the smaller being a bell cast by Abel Rudhall in 1758 and measuring 26 inches in diameter. Little is known of this smaller bell, and it may have been melted down when the ring was augmented to six with the addition of five new trebles in 1884.

The present bells are hung by their canons on oak headstocks in the original 1884 oak frame, all of them on plain bearings except for the fourth which was rehung on roller bearings in around 1980. All the bells swing north-south in the tower. The weight of the tenor has long been believed to be 13-0-23, but this was in fact the weight of the fifth before it was tuned. The tenor has never left the tower since it was installed in 1844, and has therefore never been accurately weighed.

An Ellacombe Chiming Apparatus is in the Ringing Room with the treble rope extended into the ground floor Choir Vestry, and in the chamber above is a hand-wound weight-driven birdcage clock that strikes the hours on the tenor. The setting dial is dated 1864, which was probably when the movement was rebuilt. The clock weights drop from the ceiling of the belfry to the floor of the clock chamber and need to be wound every week. Its dial is on the north wall of the tower.

Bells hung for full-circle ringing

The bells of St James the Less, Iron Acton
BellWeightDiameterNoteFounder Date
15-2-04 29½ inD John Taylor & Co. 1884
27-0-04 32¼ inC John Taylor & Co. 1884
38-1-21 35¼ inBb John Taylor & Co. 1884
410-0-07 36¾ inA John Taylor & Co. 1884
512-3-23 41½ inG John Taylor & Co. 1884
615½ cwt 44¾ inF Jefferies & Price 1844

Source: Tenor weight from Andrew Bull, calculated from the bell's diameter. Other weights from Taylors' job book, extracted by Christopher J. Pickford. Inspected personally and diameters measured 9th April 2006. All other current bell data from Nick Bowden. Details of the original bells from "The Church Bells of Gloucestershire" (Revd Henry Thomas Ellacombe, 1881). Further information from Andrew Bull and Gary Crisp.

Where the exact weight of a bell is known, it is given in the traditional way using the British imperial units of Hundredweight, Quarters and Pounds (cwt-qtr-lb) in which there are 28 pounds in a quarter, four quarters in a hundredweight, and 20 hundredweight in a ton (one hundredweight is equal to approximately 50.8 kilograms). However, if only an approximate or calculated weight is known, it is given to the nearest quarter of a hundredweight.

A bell's diameter is measured across its mouth (open end) at the widest point and is given in inches (to the nearest quarter of an inch), one inch being equal to approximately 2.54 centimetres.