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Inverness Cathedral rings the changes in bid to help bell-ringers breathe more easily

By Val Sweeney

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Inverness Cathedral.
Inverness Cathedral.

One of the Highland capital's most important listed buildings is looking to ring the changes in response to Covid-19.

Inverness Cathedral aims to help its bell-ringers breathe more easily.

It wants to replace the windows in the ringing room of the bell tower.

The application, to Highland Council, is to remove non-original glazing and replace it with new opening windows to provide ventilation.

The A-listed cathedral, in Ardross Street, was completed in 1869.

The proposal concerns the replacement of windows to two elevations of the ringing room in the third stage of the north tower.

A statement submitted with the application states: "The task of ringing the bells can require up to 12 adults to carry out strenuous activity in a confined space for an extended period.

"The room is currently unventilated.

"The proposed replacement windows will introduce ventilation which will be a requirement of new Covid-19 restrictions."

The ringing room has three sets of windows, facing west, north and east, each with a Gothic arch and sculpted detail.

Only one of the openings – the north-facing window – retains its original glazing, the others previously replaced.

The statement continues: "The existing glazing has a negative impact on the heritage of the building.

"The glazing is inconsistent with the design intent of the building, and has been carried out in materials that lack the complexity and character of the original leaded lights.

"No original fabric is being lost, and the replacement of the non-original elements will have a positive architectural outcome."

It is also proposed to paint the frames dark grey to minimise the visual impact.

The statement adds: "An important consideration is the cultural significance of the bell tower.

"The act of ringing the bells both in terms of the sound of the bells in the town and, also, the maintaining and passing on the skill of bell ringing is an important cultural activity.

"The ventilation of the ringing room will allow this function to continue and should be supported."

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