Historic bells to be muffled – after just one complaint

The West Church in Dalkeith has had its bell silenced
The West Church in Dalkeith has had its bell silenced
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THE bells have chimed every hour for more than a century.

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.

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.”

However, not all of the local residents agree that the bells need to be silenced.
Ruth and Alastair Sutherland, who have lived in the area for 15 years, 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. 

“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. 
Another local resident, Mags Pryde, said: “I don’t know the person who has complained but we are all astonished that the complaint of just one person can end centuries of tradition. 
“Charles Taylor has maintained this clock tower himself and we have been very fortunate to have seen inside it and looked at the mechanism of the chimes and helped wind the clock up. 
“It is a magnificent piece of engineering and it would be such a shame to muffle the chimes.” 
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.