Historic bells to be muffled '“ after just one complaint

THE bells have chimed every hour for more than a century.

Wednesday, 27th September 2017, 7:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 4th October 2017, 9:35 am
The West Church in Dalkeith has had its bell silenced

But now – thanks to a single complaint by a disgruntled resident – the West Church bells in Dalkeith could be muffled for the first time.

Now neighbours have rallied round to try to save the historic bells – which they believe are an important part of the community.

The West Church Bells have been chiming since the late 1890s. They are housed in a former church now used as a business premises.

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A letter from Midlothian Environmental Health has warned the occupier of the church, Charles Taylor, he must seek out steps to quieten the bells after a complaint was received from a local.

The letter states: “I am of the opinion that the noise from the bells during the night time hours is a significant increase in level above the pre-existing background noise levels when measured in the complainant’s bedroom and is subjectively intrusive. I understand that due to the age and type of the mechanism you are unable to prevent the clock from chiming between the hours of 11pm and 7am.

“Therefore, I would grateful if you could investigate reasonable steps to reduce the level of noise e.g install dense acoustic boarding to the slatted openings inside the tower in the direction of the complainants house i.e. the South elevation. If this is feasible, I could then reassess the noise level to determine the whether the reduction achieved resolves the problem.”

However, not all of the local residents agree that the bells need to be silenced.

Ruth and Alastair Sutherland voiced their support for the historic bells, which they believe to be important to the community. They said: “We enjoy the sound greatly and consider it to be part of Dalkeith’s heritage. We feel it unfair that you should request that the bell be quietened because of the complaint of one newcomer to the area.

“We have lived in the Manse, right next door to West Church, since 2002 and it did take us a couple of weeks to get used to the bell, but now we miss it if it ever stops.”

The couple suggested that it is up to the complainant to find a way to reduce the noise of the bells from inside his own home. They said: “If the complainant can not get used to the chimes, then we suggest that you ask him/her to take steps to muffle the sound within their own property. Mr Taylor has maintained the bell for over 20 years at his own expense for the benefit of the surrounding neighbours and the town of Dalkeith. The bell has been chiming since the 19th century and we really would like the tradition to be continued.”

A council spokesman said: “We can confirm we are investigating a noise complaint regarding bells chiming at a former church on Old Edinburgh Road, Dalkeith, Midlothian, which is now used as business premises.”

Mr Taylor did not wish to comment.