Obituary: Diss’ Tony Baines and his church bell legacy
Diss man Tony Baines, whose funeral service was held in St Mary’s Church on February 11, leaves behind a legacy that will continue to ring out from 190 church towers across the region.
A highly skilled craftsman and bellringer, Mr Baines, 73, who died on January 22 after battling cancer, hung 500 bells across East Anglia and was a Diocesan Bells Advisor.
His trademark of a bell-shaped rope spider was presented to each church when a job was completed.
His skilled metalwork is also visible in the gates commemorating the 700th anniversary of St Mary’s, as well as in the weathervane in the shape of a Suffolk Punch horse which stands atop Dickleburgh tower.
Mr Baines was born in Bootle, Liverpool, and worked in his family’s dairy business before moving into farming where he met his future wife, Betty, during a year’s practical on a Sussex farm.
He joined his family when they moved to The Mill House at Bressingham, and he became a member of Young Farmers, played rugby for Diss Rugby Club and was chairman of the Young Conservatives.
Following his marriage, he moved back to Sussex to farm and the couple had two sons, Mark and Kevin. They also began their lifelong love of bellringing.
In 1970, the family moved back to Norfolk and bought the derelict Algars Farm which they spent many years refurbishing.
Mr Baines worked in engineering at Arthur Howell’s at Palgrave, then moved to Bressingham Engineers.
He later became self-employed to use his creative skills in wrought iron and began his career repairing and rehanging church bells.
Projects ranged from hanging a single bell at Roydon to six bells at Blo’ Norton.
Many more local towers followed including Bressingham where the old bells were removed, two new trebles were cast and Mr Baines made and donated the steel frame as a lasting memorial to his family.
In later years he was helped by his son, Kevin, and the pair even made bell frames for the renowned Whitechapel Bell Foundry and were proud to discover that some of their frames had been sent to America.
A picture framing company he purchased with his wife is also now run by his other son, Mark.
The couple enjoyed bellringing holidays with the Norfolk and Suffolk Border Ringers and formed the Mere Ringers with friends, continuing to tour right up until Spring 2012.
Mr Baines also enjoyed all forms of sport, the great outdoors and wildlife.
and loved walking with his border collie dogs in Yorkshire.
He is survived by his widow, two sons and seven grandchildren.
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Weather for Diss
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 7 C to 15 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 8 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: North east