Local firm is given ringing endorsement
AN Edenbridge business has been given a crucial job by the organisers of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
JCC Engineering has been handed a key role in the spectacular river pageant along the Thames, in which more than 1,000 boats will sail to the sound of jubilant bell-ringing.
The Fircroft Way firm is building the 12-tonne metal frame that will secure the bells to the lead barge.
The boat will also carry eight of the country's best bell-ringers as the chimes ring out along the Thames in the biggest gathering on the river for more than 350 years.
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Director Kim Taylor said: "This is a very prestigious job and we were very excited to be asked. We've tried to keep it quiet for quite a while.
"It doesn't look like much now, but when it's put together it will be high enough to come just under the rafters in this building."
A team of three people has been working for about four weeks on the metal frame, which co-director Justin Clarkson described as "like a large Meccano set".
He added: "It's like a pyramid with the top cut off.
"The bells are half a tonne to three-quarters of a tonne, so it has to be a very heavy-duty structure."
Mr Taylor said the barge would easily hold the massive bells and their frame.
He added: "In Victorian times the barges used to carry tonnes of minerals – metals, ore – so they're constructed for this type of thing."
The frame will stand at 5.3 metres high and will be assembled in the company's workshop later this month for the bells, which are being built at Whitechapel Bell Foundry, to be fixed to it and tested.
It will then be taken apart again and transported to the docks in London, where the frame will be lifted up onto the barge ready for the Jubilee flotilla.
The recession has been unkind to the manufacturing sector and Mr Taylor said JCC Engineering, founded in 1985, was one of the few remaining workshops in the South East.
Despite the testing times, however, they have managed to flourish, currently working on contracts for a hospice in Eastbourne, a medical centre in Brighton and an assortment of refurbishment projects for people in London and the South East, some famous names among them, although the two have been sworn to secrecy.
Mr Taylor said: "I think we got this job because of our reputation. When we do a good job, word spreads and we get known for doing a good job."