Tag Archives: london

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

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.