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Restoration bid to let Blitz warning bell ring out again

IT was rung to warn people living by the Clyde of an impending attack during the Blitz, but was little used after the Second World War ended.

HERITAGE: Father Jamie MacLeod, who hit the headlines over the Van Dyck masterpiece, wants to restore the Emmanuel bell which rang out in Clydebank during the war.
HERITAGE: Father Jamie MacLeod, who hit the headlines over the Van Dyck masterpiece, wants to restore the Emmanuel bell which rang out in Clydebank during the war.

And now a priest, who discovered a forgotten painting by a 17th century master, is hoping to restore another abandoned treasure by giving new life to the former Clydebank Memorial Church's Emmanuel bell.

Father Jamie MacLeod has launched a £150,000 appeal to restore the bell along with more than 20 others at his church and retreat house, Whaley Hall in Derbyshire.

The priest hit the headlines last week when it was revealed that a painting he bought for £400 was a long-lost Anthony Van Dyck masterpiece worth £400,000.

He said: "I had originally intended to sell the painting but now I'd like to see it stay in the UK because it is one of a kind and part of our history. So I'm hoping that people will see the story, which went right around the world, and want to find out more about Whaley Hall and the bell project.

"If we can get enough people and businesses on board it could mean that the bells would ring out again."

The Emmanuel bell was the only bell used in Clydebank to warn people of incoming aircraft during the Second World War.

Father Jamie bought it on eBay two years ago and hopes to have it restored in time for the events to mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War later this year.

He said: "This bell served a significant purpose during wartime so it would be fitting to have it working again to mark the start of the earlier conflict now we are at peace.

"It would also be used next year to ring out again to mark the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War."

The priest is an expert in bringing forgotten artefacts back to life, following his experience with the Van Dyck painting.

The picture, by the 17th-century Flemish artist, depicts a bearded Brussels magistrate wearing a ruff and was a study for a larger 1634 work showing seven magistrates, which has since been destroyed.

Philip Mould, an art expert working for the BBC's Antiques Roadshow, had suspected that the painting might be an original Van Dyck and had urged the cleric to have it stripped back to its original paintwork and authenticated.

Christopher Brown, director of the Ashmolean Mus-eum in Oxford, was then able to verify that the painting was genuine, the programme said.

The BBC Show's presenter Fiona Bruce said: "It's everyone's dream to spot a hidden masterpiece."

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