Village church bells to ring flood warning

Villagers in Devon are set to benefit from having the UK’s first church bell flood warning service.

The 18th century bells at St Paul’s Church in Starcross have been restored thanks to a £10,000 grant from the Environment Agency (EA), and additional money raised by the community could mean they now ring out an SOS peal in the event of a flood.

The contingency method, suggested by the Flood Action Group and local wardens, will only be used if the EA’s traditional electronic method of warning, and all other forms of communication, have failed.

Churchwarden Tim Miles said: “We are very excited to welcome the bells back to the church and will sleep soundly knowing they are ready if needed to warn villagers of flooding.”

Church bells have a long tradition of warning of hazards and were set to be used in the event of a German invasion during the Second World War.

Jane Fletcher-Peters, flood resilience officer at the EA, said: “Starcross is very much a boating community so it made sense that if the church bells were sounded to warn of flood, ringers would adopt an SOS peal familiar to residents.”

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