Villagers angry after pub boss’s complaints silence clock

Residents of a sleepy Lake District village are at loggerheads after a clock which has chimed since 1890 is set to go silent.

The clock at St Andrew’s Parish Church in Coniston will be between the hours of 11pm and 7am due to complaints from the owners of a pub opposite, who complained it kept them and their guests awake with its ‘Big Ben’ bongs.

Yet campaigners who want the tradition of the bell bongs to be continued have taken to Facebook to call for a boycott of the Yewdale Inn, causing divide among locals and those who have moved into the village. 

Jeff and Susie Hart, who took over the pub  in 2013 after moving from Lancaster, claim the hourly ringing of the bells keeps them awake.

Jeff and Susie Hart, who took over the Yewdale pub in 2013 after moving from Lancaster, claim the hourly ringing of the bells from the church just behind the trees keeps them awake

Ms Hart said: ‘The only thing between us and the church clock bell tower is a fairly narrow road.

‘Our bedroom and three other guest bedrooms have windows directly adjacent to the clock tower and sometimes it seems like Big Ben is chiming next door in the middle of the night when we are trying to sleep after a long day working.

‘Even with the window closed the noise is disruptive to sleep.’

She added that due to the chimes, her business had received a number of negative reviews on TripAdvisor from customers.

One review read: ‘The hotel is next to a church which rings the bells every hour even during night so this & it being very hot disturbed our sleep.’ 

Mrs Hart said she and her husband had been in talks with the church about the bells since 2013 and were willing to cover some of the costs, yet the quote was more than they anticipated.

The couple then got in contact with South Lakeland District Council’s Environmental Health department and the parish council. 

After the council monitored the bells, it was ruled they will fall silent overnight – with cost of fitting the silencer falling on the parish. 

Many people in the village expressed their dismay, with local Penny Walker claiming it had not been a problem for ‘hundreds of years’.

‘They (the chimes) are part of Coniston’s heritage and part of village life,’ she wrote on a Facebook Page.

The chimes at St Andrew's Church have been going since 1890

The chimes at St Andrew’s Church have been going since 1890

Melanie Louise Atkinson’s posted: ‘I lived in Coniston for 25 years, and many of my ancestors lived there too, the clock striking never bothered any of us. Were the new owners of the Yewdale not aware of the clock before they moved in?’ 

Neil Sheppard added. ‘This is what really annoys me about some “offcomers” to the lakes. They have no respect for the locals and a sense of entitlement that their view should prevail.’

Local councillor Anne Hall said there was a feeling of ‘sadness’ following the ruling, adding: ‘Personally I live within 50 yards of the church and look right at it and sleep with my window open. 

‘It’s like the river running past, you don’t hear these things when you’re there all the time.’

A spokesman for the council said: ‘In the end we are duty bound to comply with the council’s decision. We hope that installing a mechanism that works during the night is a reasonable compromise.’