One of the great thing about ringing as a hobby is being able to go and ring at new towers. An outing is good way to gain experience whilst enjoying a day out in the country – or perhaps visiting an historic city.
When I learnt to ring in the 70s, this involved getting hold of a copy of Dove’s Guide and an Ordnance Survey map of the area you wanted to visit in order to plan a route. Then you got the address of the local Association secretary from the Ringers’ Diary and wrote off for a copy of the local report to get the names of the tower contacts (not forgetting to include a donation towards the cost of the report). The alternative was going to the local library and looking up the names of the vicars in Crockford’s Directory. Armed with this information, you sat down to hand write letters to everyone requesting the use of their bells, and popped the letters in the post with a stamped addressed envelope.
Nowadays, Dove’s Guide and the tower contact details are all accessible on line. You can use Google Maps to plan your route and request the use of bells using email. How much quicker, simpler and cheaper!
Looking at the events coming up in the calendar, I thought it would be useful to give some of students at the BSoBR some information about the towers that will be visited in the ALE and the Guild Summer Event. Dove’s Guide provides the weights of all the bells in each and I have summarised these in a spreadsheet that compares the weights of bells in the towers to be visited with the bells that students are familiar with through the school. I have also included some other local towers I know some students ring at. Information for any other tower can be found at http://dove.cccbr.org.uk/home.php
Of course, things are actually not as predictable as that. Bells of the same weight but in different towers may go entirely differently. The draft may be different, the tenor weight and the number of bells will affect the speed that the bells are rung at, and the bells will most likely have different odd-struckness. However, if you don’t know where to grab hold, this information is a useful starting point.
With summer holidays coming up, ringers are likely to want to try some new bells whilst they are away. Using Dove’s Guide and local association information is a good way to identify a practice night you can join in with. It is worth ringing the tower contact before you go away to make sure that the practice will be taking place. Try and turn up at the beginning of the practice and be clear about what you can and can’t ring. It is worth taking a step backwards on unfamiliar bells. So if you are learning to plain hunt, then stick with rounds and call changes in the first instance. They may ask you what you are learning, in which case you can tell them. Be aware that call changes may be called differently in other parts of the country. We practise this sometimes at Handsworth so that Level 2 students are aware of this. Don’t forget before you leave the tower to sign the visitors’ book and slip some change in the tower fund box.