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After 200 years church bell is silenced…by a single complaint


  • Clock bell on Beith Parish Church after objection by resident who’d recently moved to the town 

It has chimed every hour, day and night, for 200 years.

But the clock bell on Beith Parish Church, Ayrshire, has now been silenced for eight hours each night – after a single noise complaint.

The resident, who had recently moved to the town, contacted session clerk Gordon Isbister urging the church to silence the bell as he and his wife were unable to sleep because of the hourly chimes.

Some church elders suggested the couple should ‘put earplugs in’ to muffle the noise, but others felt it was not an unreasonable request.

Mr Isbister said the man also complained to environmental health officials at North Ayrshire Council and, as a result, the church agreed to stop the bell ringing between 11pm and 7am to prevent ‘a noise nuisance’.

He added: ‘It hasn’t affected me being able to get to sleep at night. But I think it is a good thing switching them [the chimes] off, even if it is just one person, if it helps him get a peaceful night’s sleep. What’s the purpose of them ringing through the night? It’s pointless really.’

Beith High Church in Ayrshire has been forced to silence its hourly chime by the local council

Beith High Church in Ayrshire has been forced to silence its hourly chime by the local council

Gordon Isbister, church elder, was contacted by a resident, who had recently moved to the town, urging the church to silence the bell as he and his wife were unable to sleep

Gordon Isbister, church elder, was contacted by a resident, who had recently moved to the town, urging the church to silence the bell as he and his wife were unable to sleep

But locals feel the move has spoiled a ‘cherished tradition’ and they want the decision to be reversed.

Bryan McWilliams, 60, who has lived just yards from the clock bell tower for 23 years, started an online petition yesterday. By last night it had more than 500 signatures.

He said the clock bell chiming was ‘part of the character and charm that makes our town unique’, adding: ‘We believe that one person’s discomfort should not outweigh a tradition loved by many and ingrained in our community for generations.’

North Ayrshire Council confirmed the church had contacted it for advice but stressed ‘no formal action’ was taken by officials.

A spokesman for the Church of Scotland said: ‘We are aware of the situation at Beith Parish Church but this is not a common problem across our parishes.’



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