Re-establishing ringing

Sunday’s topics in the Recovery Convention were how to re-establish ringing in your village band by Debbie Phipps.  The second was on getting your bells and tower in order ready for return by Alison Hodge.  Both were very well attended sessions, with over 100 people connected to the first session and over 80 for the second.

My take aways from the first session were around ideas for engaging with community and retaining ringers.  Where I ring was not really known as a teaching tower and with only five members of our own band, most of the work in recruiting and teaching falls to me and C. I had mentioned at a previous tower AGM I felt if we didn’t do something about recruitment and teaching, #bellringing at our tower would stop when we stopped.  We relied on people coming from nearby towers to help us ring on Sunday mornings, and lots of visitors to support our practice night.

When we return to the tower its going to be difficult to ring all our bells to start with.  We have 12 bells and the heaviest weights over 34 cwt.  Ringers would have lost some physical strength, and as an ageing group, some may not be able to ring the bells they could a year ago. That’s before we start to ring methods and trying to remember things we could ring without thinking about it previously.

The second session was about getting bells and towers in order ready to ring again.  It covered making sure you have preliminaries in order; discussed things with the incumbent, conducted risk assessments, health and safety, and made sure other policies were up to date.  

Before starting maintenance, it was noted to make sure people are competent to undertake the checks and maybe include a church warden or someone to help out. It was important to make sure you are appropriately kitted out with PPE, the lights work, and you had a headlamp, pen and paper, camera and working mobile phone in case of incidents.

It was important to keep good records of what had been checked, what other observations were made and what actions were undertaken or need to be undertaken.  It was a good idea to inform the church afterwards. It was advised that an external visual inspection be made as well as checking steps, ladders, trap doors and floors, look for signs of damage, unauthorised access, damp or water leaks.  A systematic inspection of each bell from top to bottom would give a good view of bolts, clappers, headstocks, wheels, sliders, stays, bearings, ropes, pulleys.  The speaker also mentioned tidying up the overall environment like removing out of date notices and sweets or biscuits and prepare to welcome ringers back.

I was not overly interested in the maintenance side of #bellringing, but this was a good high-level overview of some simple activities that we should do.

It was good to hear some new ideas or concepts, and things that make sense.


One thought on “Re-establishing ringing

  1. Yes, also discussed at our meeting recently. A lot of it seems common sense but extremely necessary. We’ve been invited to return next week and although we’re excited, we are nervous that we’ll have forgotten how, and may suffer with aching arms and sore hands 😄


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