Tag Archives: docklands ringing centre

Lily rings on Sunday for the first time, after starting eight weeks ago

Not only did Lily Tang come and help with the fun-day at Bermondsey on Saturday, but Lily rang for her first Sunday service at Greenwich on Sunday morning. Lily only had her first lesson at Greenwich eight weeks ago, but she rang the third to some very creditable rounds and simple call-changes on the front six.

This was the first time in many years that there had been ringing before the morning service at Greenwich, and it was good that four ringers who do not normally have the opportunity to ring on Sunday mornings came along.

Afterwards seven of us walked the short distance through the foot tunnel under the Thames to Isle of Dogs, where we were joined by Buky Rufai and Lily rang some more rounds and simple call-changes on eight.

To top that, in the evening Lily came to ring for the evening service at Deptford and rang some more rounds on eight. So ringing at three towers, two of which were new. That’s enthusiasm!

Lily is already developing a good handling style and although not perfect yet, she is striking her bell more or less in the right place much of the time. Something that will only improve with plenty of practice, like she had yesterday. We very much look forward to our next batch of new ringers at Bermondsey and Greenwich making similar progress.

Bermondsey Community Fun Day – highly successful

Rear (L to R): Roger Booth, Paul Harding, Edward Gormley, Matt Amos, Trisha Shannon.
Front: Naoko Nakatani, David Connearn, Lily Tang.
Photo: Gillian Harris.

On Saturday 22 July, the Parish of Bermondsey held a Community Fun Day in aid of restoring the ‘Joy Slide’ which once sat in the Churchyard. The old wooden slide, which was built in 1921 and brought delight to generations of Bermondsey children, was donated by Arthur Carr, Chairman of Peak Freans, whose biscuit factory stood close by. The old slide was damaged by fire and removed shortly after we installed the new bells, 25 years ago.

There were various attractions in the churchyard including a bouncy castle, helter skelter and a barbecue. As one of the attractions, during the afternoon we invited local people to come up the tower and meet the ringers, watch the bells being rung and climb the new ladder to the viewing platform above the bells.

Our aim was to raise awareness of the bells and the ringers within the local community and the church family, and to recruit some new people into the local band. With help from our friends from Greenwich, Lewisham and Waterloo, and with all the ringers wearing their smart Docklands Ringers polo shirts, and giving everyone a warm welcome, we certainly helped give the right impression.

We must have showed at least 60 people up the tower and given most of them a go at ringing a few backstrokes, even a large group of schoolchildren. We also have three people who have left their contact details, and there may be a couple more who have also promised to come along early next Tuesday evening for a lesson. We were also able to publicise the event in local social media, and have attracted a significant number of ‘likes’.

The Vicar and Churchwardens were very pleased and it was very good PR for the ringers. All in all a very worthwhile exercise.



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

London Open House & Ringing Taster Sessions

For some of us, showing off comes naturally – so when The Docklands Ringers were asked to open the bell tower at St Mary, Rotherhithe to do tower tours and bell ringing demonstrations, we took to it with great enthusiasm.

At 9.30, a group of approximately ten ringers pitched up at Rotherhithe, in the midst of the congregation setting up their stalls for the hordes of visitors who would soon be descending. We had made leaflets, put up posters and Morag Todd even brought her laminator; so when 10.00 arrived, we were 100% ready to do some demonstrations and show people the ropes.

Unfortunately, between 10.00 and 11.00 there was a funeral in the church which meant that we were unable to do any ringing until afterwards.  However, we were able to show people the bells and take them up the tower.

Our first visitor was a little boy with a scooter, and his mum. Alison Hammond looked after the scooter while they went and had a look at the bells. Alison says she didn’t play with it, but we didn’t see her for about 15 minutes!

After the funeral ended, we left some time allowing the mourners to disperse before ringing up and then doing a demonstration of change ringing. Some of us take great delight in performing for an audience, so to have a tower full of people watching and then applauding (even after a particularly rough raise!) was fantastic.

For the first demonstration, we had approximately 12 people in the ringing room with us and we raised the back six in peal, followed by a touch of Plain Bob Doubles. This was followed by applause and all of the onlookers seemed very interested.

For most of the day Andrew Larsen, Alison Hammond and Jenni Pinnock stood outside accosting people in the street and thrusting leaflets into their hands, frog-marching them into the tower. However, with a total of 126 visitors across the two sessions – a very well done to them!

There were several other demonstrations throughout the day, but very early on we established that Grandsire Doubles was not for us. However, the Plain Bob Doubles had good rhythm and was greatly accepted by our adoring fans.  One lady was even heard to say, “this is the best Open House event I’ve ever been to”.

Between the morning and afternoon sessions, we had a heated debate on the most important subject of the day – lunch – which was a not-so-swift-half in The Mayflower, just across the road from the tower. Mike Todd had three “bags of lunch” and declared it “Magnifique!”. Open House this year was on the same day as The Great River Race and so that made for good lunchtime diversion before getting back to the church for the afternoon session.

The afternoon session was as good as the morning, if not better with a raft more visitors, including Pippa Moss and her family, who thoroughly enjoyed themselves: “We saw the ringing and then went up to look at the bells.”

However, for Pippa’s children, after a long day not even our cacophony could wake them: “We had our 2 and 4 year old with us and the 2 year old was so tired she fell asleep in the bell tower while the ringers played away – nothing would wake her and she had a comfy spot lying on the window seat!”

There was a lot of interest in The Docklands Ringing Centre and in ringing generally, and if you are one of those people, or even if you aren’t – the ringers will be back this Saturday and again the week after with some ‘taster sessions’ allowing people to have a go at one of Britain’s most iconic pastimes.

Taster sessions at St Mary, St Marychurch Street, Rotherhithe, SE16 4JE on Saturday 24th September (10.00-12.30) and again on Saturday 1st October (10.00-12.30). The taster sessions will be followed by an intensive ringing course, in the evenings of the week starting Monday 3rd October.

If you would like further information on any of these sessions please call 0845 6804305 or email info@docklandsringers.co.uk.

The DRC and the Recruitment committee would like to thank all those who took part.