THE MAYOR of Weymouth and Portland was the first of 13 people to ring the original 1633 bell which has been rehung at Weymouth’s Old Town Hall.

The bell has been rehung in the historic hall after being cleaned and refurbished, and will now be rung regularly for the first time in more than 40 years.

The ceremony began with Mayor Kate Wheller first ringing the bell once for one thousand years, followed by six more rings by Guardians and Directors of the hall for 600 years, a further three rings for 30 years and three rings for three years, as to spell out 1633 for the year the bell was first cast.

Cllr Wheller said: “It’s absolutely brilliant and it’s a real tribute to all of the hard work of so many people and it is great to see the Old Town Hall so well used and well loved again.

“I went to Brownies and Guides here and then this hall was used for so much, there were jumble sales, bridge games and country dancing.

“It was so sad to see it go into disrepair and it is brilliant to watch it coming back to life again.”

The Old Town Hall is being used for heritage and the arts with a 30-year lease from Weymouth and Portland Borough Council for restoration.

The Guardians and Directors of the hall have spent around £5,000 refurbishing the bell and the town hall itself. Town Hall Director and Guardian Grahame Knott decided to take on the re-hanging of the bell and paid most of the £5,000 to cover the costs. The remainder came from Old Town Hall funds.

Town Hall director Selwyn Williams, who organised the event, said: “We’ve wanted to put the bell back in the hall for a long time, it’s a community thing and is all to do with Weymouth’s history.”

Many re-enactors attended the event dressed in period costume.

Following the ceremonial ringing, the folk rock band The Dolmen performed a song telling the story of historic events as seen through the eyes of the bell.