Real ALE

Clares CatYesterday’s St Martin’s Guild ALE (Adult Learners’ Event) was enjoyed by a number of the BSoBR Students.

After School in the morning, several of the students, tutors and helpers hot-footed it over to Sheldon to join other Guild members for the first of four towers, that had been arranged by Simon, for what has become one of the most popular events on the Guild’s calendar. Around 18 Adult Learners benefitted from the help and support of some of the more experienced ringers in the Guild at a variety of towers South East of Birmingham.

Well struck Rounds and Call Changes, Plain Hunt, and Grandsire Triples at Sheldon (8), were followed by some 12 bell ringing at Solihull (12). Participants got the chance to experience rounds (and call changes for some) with yet more experienced ringers drafted in for the higher numbers. Numbers topped 30 at this point in the afternoon. Out into the countryside and the challenge at Packwood (8) was the weight of the bells – 6cwt and the need to “handle with care”. The last tower of the day brought a different challenge. Rowington (6), rung from the chancel crossing, and a very long draught.

Thanks to Simon for his excellent organisation (as usual). Put 14th November in your diaries for the next one.

IMG_1997IMG_2002IMG_2001 IMG_2003  IMG_2004IMG_2007

Ringing at new towers

_DSC0094Janet Horton writes:

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

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.

Competition news…..

Clares CatCongratulations to the BSoBR striking contest team. 3rd place (out of 5) in the St Martin’s Guild 6-bell Striking Contest, judged by Phil Gay. A nerve-wracking experience for some I think, but well done to Tim, Jenny and Christine for being brave enough to take part. We’ll aim for more teams next year…..

VE Day Commemoration

Clares CatThe national commemoration of the 70th anniversary of VE Day is taking preference over sessions of the School this week. As many of you will be aware, the Government has requested that bells in all churches be rung (if possible) at 11.00 on Saturday 9th May. So that this can happen, we recognise that many of you will be needed by your own towers. The School sessions at Handsworth, Harborne and Edgbaston will not be taking place, but there is VE Day commemorative ringing at all 4 School towers – some of you are helping us achieve this at Handsworth, where there are hardly any local ringers.

I hope that most if not all of you manage to ring somewhere next Saturday morning – for some of you, this could be your first taste of helping the nation to commemorate an historic event.

 THERE WILL BE a bell handling only session at St Paul’s for the Level 1 students

Website updates

Clares CatSome of the sections of the website have now been updated – “About the School” has some additional pages, giving the prospective new ringer a bit more of an idea what to expect should they sign up.

From this week onwards, the weekly allocation will also be published in the “helpers” section of the School website. Bookmark it is password protected so if you are a tutor or helper you will need to contact me for the password, if you don’t already have it.

Have a look around and see what you think.

Student testimonials

IMG_0986As a pupil who only started ringing this year, I have been lucky enough to join a bell ringing teaching school , that I find is not only first class in its theory but excellent in its hands on practical bell ringing techniques. The ease of knowledge that is passed on individually while actually pulling the ropes, is a triumph of advancement. so much information is absorbed in the short 2 hour lesson you leave with your head spinning, its great.
All the trainers are helpful, sincere and full of enthusiasm, I couldn’t have wanted to learn Campanology at a better time, these courses will help me to become a competent ringer in far, far lest time that probably most of the current ringers and I thank the school for all their help, efforts and the time that all trainers and helpers alike give up  to help us the pupils learn this wonderful ‘hobby’. Who knows one day I will be able to repay the debt by being a tower helper myself
Many thanks to all involved

SONY DSC “I really appreciate the time and help I am getting, please can I sign up for another 4 weeks?                    Lesley

IMG_1032“Congratulations! The School is certainly making a big difference. I would have given up long ago.
Thank you to all the helpers and to my fellow student for their help and support.


“I am really enjoying the bell ringing school and appreciate the effort and support of all teachers and helpers. Long may it continue.”                                                                                                                                      Annette

New Website!

Clares CatGreat news! The School now has its own website which will hold all the news, so that non facebook users and the public can see what we are up to.

Tutors and helpers – there is now a direct link to Doodle from the “helpers” page, which will make it easy for you to update your availability at any time. The page is password protected and you will receive an email with the password so you can access it.