A SHORT, sharp ring from St Paul's Anglican Church in Maryborough yesterday signalled the return of its historic bells after a painstaking process to lift each one back into the belltower.

For the first time in more than a century, the people of Maryborough were able to view the nine historic bells as a crane lifted them back into place.

St Paul's Anglican Church's Father Jim McPherson said the bells had never been out of the tower since they were first installed until April this year, when they were removed to be sent to Whitechapel Foundry in London for restoration.

The bell set spent six months at the foundry where they were first forged.

A crowd gathered to watch their return yesterday.

"People have lived long lives and died without seeing it happen," Father McPherson said.

"The bells have earned their place in Maryborough's heritage."

Whitechapel Foundry bell hanger Neil Thomas will spend the next two weeks in Maryborough to fine-tune the bells after overseeing their installation yesterday.

The St Paul's bell restoration is the only international job for the foundry this year.

He said there were only three or four similar sets of eight tenor bells and one semi-tone in the world.

Mr Thomas described the 125-year-old bells as middle-aged compared to a bell made in 1450 that sat beside the Maryborough set while at Whitechapel.

The restored bells will play the first official musical peal on December 14, when the archbishop of the Anglican Church is set to visit Maryborough.



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