Pompey Chimes back where they belong!

Swaying precariously in the wind, a four-ton bell is carefully lifted up as the return of the Pompey Chimes draws nearer.

One by one, all five of the bells were put back into the Portsmouth Guildhall clocktower after three months of restoration.

In a complex operation, a huge crane had to be shipped in to Guildhall Square yesterday to hoist the bells up 130ft.

The sheeting rain drove away all but a few dedicated onlookers huddled under umbrellas.

The first three bells – including the biggest, Victoria – were safely at the top when the winds picked up.

Project managers at construction firm Mansell deemed it too dangerous for the last two to be lifted with the crane.

Instead they were taken to the top in a service lift.

But despite the setback of the bad weather it didn't hit the enthusiasm of the team responsible for the restoration of the chimes.

Project manager Dave Chapell said: 'It was a key day, getting the bells back in.

'That's the hard part over. From here on in it should be plain sailing.'

It will still be another two months or more until Portsmouth City Council holds a ceremony and rings the bells for the first time. The temporary frame inside the clocktower will be replaced with a permanent steel one.

Then a staircase will be built inside the clocktower so the bells can be easily accessed for maintenance and repairs in the future.

The Pompey Chimes, which sound out the Play Up Pompey tune, should be ringing again by the spring – for the first time since they were silenced for urgent repairs in 2003.

It comes after a campaign led by The News to get them restored.

Deputy Tory leader Alistair Thompson said: 'It is absolutely fantastic for Portsmouth to have the chimes going back in the tower.'