Category Archives: Events

Stepney Band Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Stepney band May 2017

Most of the current Stepney band on the day. Missing are Alan, Daniel and Rebecca

Not long after moving to the area, a chance discussion between Elizabeth LeMoine (herself a novice ringer of less than two years) and churchwarden Vera Hullyer prompted an invitation to start a local band. The current Stepney band held its first practice in May 2007.

Party in Parish Room

The Party in the Parish Room

On 13 May 2017 the band held a 10th anniversary party, attended by current and past members, supporters, members of the clergy and congregation – including Vera, whose husband Charlie worked for the foundry – Vera  brought a wonderful bundle of related newspaper clippings. Representing the previous band, we were delighted to welcome Liz, Peter, Matthew and Heather Rayner who have been great supporters of the current band,  especially appreciated in the early days when there was a lot of teaching to be done.

Vera, Benji and Margaret

Vera, Benji and Margaret

Foundry press clippings

Chapman, Peter, Jenny and Andrew examining Vera’s album of Foundry press clippings and literature

Jonathan, Chris, Elizabeth, Kevin, Joe

Tower Captains past and current: Jonathan, Chris, Elizabeth, Kevin, Joe

A quarter peal was rung that included all of the Tower Captains of the current band. There was too much food, the ice cream van playing ‘Oranges and Lemons’ stopped by, there was open ringing, speeches and lots of photos. Perhaps the latter speak best about the afternoon’s celebration.

Oranges and Lemons lunch

The spread, with ‘Oranges and Lemons’ flowers

Joe and Gareth

Joe, current tower captain, and Gareth

Birthday cake

Anna’s amazing Oranges-and-Lemons-themed Lemon Drizzle birthday cake

Julian showing the bells to Heather

Julian gave tower tours to interested passers by. Heather is now learning to ring with us!

Chapman and Matthew

Chapman and Matthew on 9 and 10

With great thanks to everyone who came and to all the Docklands, Middlesex and local ringers who have supported and continue to support the current Stepney band through its first 10 years – and here’s to the next 10!

Photos by Heather Rayner and Éva Rédei.

Heather Rayner

One photographer captures the other

Level 5 achievers Masterclass with 12 Bell Winners


Andrew Booth is the first person in Docklands to reach Learning the Ropes Level 5. On September 17 he was invited, along with all the others who have achieved level 5 so far, to an expenses paid ‘Masterclass’ with the St Martin’s Guild, regular winners of the National 12 Bell Trophy, in Birmingham, home of the Birmingham School of Bell Ringing.

The day started with an introductory session, led by Stephanie Warboys, focussing on striking. Everyone listened to six video clips of ringing and then discussed the faults. Stephanie explained that the Birmingham ringers place great importance on discussing striking; even the most experienced ringers are never satisfied with their striking yet it is the elephant in the room that so many ringers seem unwilling to face. She also explained that no-one should take it personally later in the day if it was pointed out that someone’s backstrokes or handstrokes were quick or slow. In Birmingham feedback like this is the norm. Ringing is a team exercise and it is important for everyone to work together to optimise the performance.

The session also covered the theory of Stedman and how this doubles principle extends very easily to 7, 9 and 11 bells. Despite its simplicity, it is ‘hyper-musical’ and even the most advanced ringers really enjoy ringing it, so it provides an excellent progression path to ringing on higher numbers. As Stephanie explained repeatedly through the day, if you can ring Stedman Doubles, you can ring Stedman Triples, and if you can ring Stedman Triples you can ring Stedman Caters, and if you can ring Stedman Caters you can ring Stedman Cinques, and you will be made very welcome at any of the established centres of 12 bell ringing up and down the country.

We then headed across to St Philip’s Cathedral for the first of our practical sessions. We started on the middle six of this excellent ring of bells. Some of the participants, including Andrew, ringing Stedman Doubles for the first time, with others practicing Cambridge Surprise Minor. We then finished with the participants ringing two at a time in some rounds and call changes on this crystal clear sounding ring of twelve, with Stephanie emphasising the need to get those backstrokes up and everyone, including some of the best 12 bell ringers in the Country, concentrating on the striking.

After just over an hour and half’s intensive practice we then walked the short distance to St Paul’s in the Jewellery quarter, home of the Birmingham School of Bell Ringing. By some strange coincidence St Paul’s in Birmingham is at the top of Ludgate Hill – or is it just a coincidence? The participants then had a further three hours of intense practice with the multi-award winning Birmingham band. Lunch was served in shifts in the teaching room below the ringing chamber, so that ringing could continue without a break, and everyone was able to see the Birmingham ringers ART Module 1 and Module 2 certificates proudly displayed in the wall.

During the afternoon, Andrew moved on to ringing his first few courses of Stedman Triples, whilst others progressed on to ringing Stedman Caters for the first time. Those practicing Cambridge also rang Primrose Surprise for the first time. They did this by concentrating on hunting across the lead end and being aware of how the method was related to Cambridge, rather than learning a whole new blue line. As Stephanie explained, the helpers faces lit up as this was the key to ringing many other methods simply and easily.

The day ended with an hour and a quarter’s ringing at St Martin’s in the Bull Ring. Two at a time the participants rang rounds and call changes on 16 bells, with the crack Birmingham band. Again, striking was emphasised, especially the need to get those backstrokes up and hold them there. We then rang plain hunting on 11, Stedman Caters and Stedman Cinques, with one of the participants ringing a very well struck course of Stedman Cinques for the very first time. The ringing room at St Martin’s is very historic and atmospheric and Stephanie pointed to the peal boards for the very first peals on fourteen and sixteen bells, and which several of those helping today had actually rung in.

Learning the Ropes is about mastering the basic skills of bell-handling and striking, right from the outset, and to reach Level 5 the requirements include being able to do this sufficiently well to have rung quarter peals in two different doubles methods and one minor method inside. The day showed that once these basic skills have been mastered, with good support it is possible to make very rapid progress indeed, all the way to ringing methods on 10 and 12 bells.

At the conclusion Stephanie and the Birmingham ringers were thanked for their hard work, both in organising the event and in ringing throughout the day, to inspire others and help put so much back into ringing.

Participants were presented with certificates and then had their photograph taken with members of the Birmingham band with the National 12 Bell Trophy in front, and left with a goody bag containing a commemorative mug for the day.

Next year it is planned to repeat the Masterclass with those who reach Level 5 this year, so you have just over three months to do this!

Roger Booth

25 Years ago


Twenty five years ago the tower of St James’ Bermondsey was in scaffolding. The heavy old ring of 10 bells dating from 1823 had been removed, as they had become derelict and a new ring of 6 bells had just been cast in the Whitechapel Bellfoundry. They were rung for the first time in February 1991. Two more were added to complete the current ring of 8 bells in November 1991.

Over the years we have taught many people to ring on these bells and we plan to hold a reunion of the ringers in November 2016 to mark the 25th anniversary. Over 40 people attended the 20th anniversary reunion 5 years ago.

The old ring of 10 bells were restored and two more were added to make a ring of 12 bells, which were installed in St James’s Cathedral, Toronto, Canada. Three of our ringers travelled to Canada to attend the dedication weekend, including ringing for a special service attended by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh on 27th June 1997.

The new bells
The old bells leave
The 20th Anniversary

Summer Funday and Tower Tours

On Sunday 6th September, between 2pm and 4pm there will be a rare opportunity to enjoy a behind the scenes guided tour of the tower at St Anne’s Church in Limehouse. Designed by Wren’s assistant Nicholas Hawksmoor and built 1714-1727, St Anne’s was one of twelve churches built to serve the new suburbs after the great fire of London, funded by a tax on coal coming up the River Thames. The church did not open till 1730 because a change in government repealed the tax before the work was complete.

This historic church was almost completely gutted by fire in 1850. It was restored between 1851 and 1854 by Philip Hardwick.

With support from the London Docklands Development Corporation, the roof and tower were again restored between 1983 and 1997, and completed when a ring of eight bells was finally added, these bells having previously hung in the tower of St Peter’s Church, Walworth in South London. Two more bells were cast at the Whitechapel Bellfoundry in 2004 to complete the present ring of ten bells.

Those coming on Sunday on Sunday afternoon will be able to climb to the top and see the restored Victorian clock mechanism and admire the view across the local area. The Docklands Ringers will also be on hand to demonstrate the bells being rung, you will be able to have a go. You will also be able to view inside the main roofspace and see how the Victorian timbers have been ingeniously strengthened with a delicate space age tubular steel framework, threaded between the old timbers.

If you can’t make 6th September, the Docklands Ringers will be holding a ‘taster evening’ on Wednesday 9th September between 7.30 and 9.00pm when you can also come up and see the tower and find out more about the bells.

Summer funday

Half muffled quarter at Bermondsey for local undertaker


The funeral procession through Bermondsey

The Senior Undertaker during the repatriation ceremony of ten British Servicemen killed when the C130 Hercules they were travelling in crashed in Iraq.

Barry Albin-Dyer: The Senior Undertaker during the repatriation ceremony of ten British Servicemen killed when the C130 Hercules they were travelling in crashed in Iraq.

Today we rang a half muffled quarter peal of Plain Bob Triples as the cortege of Barry Albin-Dyer passed the church.

The following is taken from Barry’s obituary in the Daily Telegraph:

Barry Albin-Dyer, who has died of cancer aged 64, was for 30 years the chairman of F A Albin & Sons, a venerable firm of funeral directors in Bermondsey, south London, which was tasked by the MoD with organising the repatriation and funerals of members of the Armed Forces who had died in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Clad in immaculate top hat and undertaker’s frock-coat and brandishing a cane, Albin-Dyer was a familiar sight at Bermondsey funerals, as well as at Wootton Bassett (and later Brize Norton), leading the cortege in the tradition known as “paging”.

It was Albin-Dyer who walked ahead of the flower-draped vintage Rolls-Royce containing the coffin of Jade Goody, the reality television star, in 2009. When the procession arrived at the market in Bermondsey where Jade Goody’s grandfather had kept a stall, Albin-Dyer released a white dove from a cage.

His pall-bearers also officiated at the funeral of 10-year-old Damilola Taylor in 2001.