Langley Fitzurse School’s bell tolls to mark rebuild

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Head Becky Harris with contractors Conal Whittard and Terry Slade Head Becky Harris with contractors Conal Whittard and Terry Slade

Langley Fitzurse School’s bell has rung for the first time in four years, after Kington Langley villagers raised thousands of pounds for its restoration.

This time last year, people thought time may have to be called on the 130-year-old bell that many remember signalling the start of their school days. After its rope snapped, there was a risk of demolition.

Now, thanks to donations by residents and events run by the school’s PTA, about £5,000 has been raised to pay for repair work instead.

The old tower was removed and rebuilt in two weeks, by Wilkins Builders, of Calne.

Headteacher Becky Harris said: “We’re amazed at how quickly it has happened. “We’ve managed to retain the heritage of the school and the village. It was put up in 1880. It should stay now for a considerable period of time.”

The biggest chunk of fundraising came from an auction of promises, run in conjunction with the Chipp-enham Auction Rooms at the village hall last November.

One donation came from Bermuda, offered by 86-year-old James Winch, who had started school there in 1931.

He sent a cheque after reading about the appeal in the Gazette & Herald, but was not around to see the school reach its fundraising goal.

Mrs Harris said: “Mr Winch lived in a house by the common and heard the bell ring when it was time for school.

“He sent us a cheque, but we can’t say how much for, when he saw it in the Gazette that he still read online.

“Sadly, he passed away about a week before Christmas. His family are thrilled to see it restored and say he would have been really, really happy we were able to save it.”

The bell tower was part-funded by Wiltshire Council, which contributed the equivalent cost of re-roofing should the bell had been removed.

The school will officially welcome of the new tower before the end of the school year, with pupils dressing in Victorian clothes.

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