Saturday, 26 November 2016
On the evening of Thursday 26 Nov 2016 there was a test ring of the new 10 bell installation at St Thomas’ Stockton Heath. A group of around 30 people, comprising the novice band plus those who have been tutoring us, ascended the tower steps.
The front six were rung up by a band of experienced ringers who then rang some rounds. The 7 and 9 followed by 8 and 10 were then set. Some of the new band members joined in and all 10 bells were rung. And so it continued until every had rung two or three times.
The architect, who had to sign the project off and declare that we could ring, went round the tower placing his palms and leaning against various parts of the walls as if he was a healer laying on hands. We followed him closely to see if we could detect any sign of the outcome from his inscrutable expression. He had the face of a poker player.
This might seem a little un-necessary but there have been instances of bells being installed, rung once, and the tower being declared un-fit and the bells never rung again.
A small group were sent outside with a meter to check that our sound proofing was effective and that the decibel levels were within the acceptable range. When they returned they went into a huddle and poured over the results before emerging to say that all was well.
Ringing continued until 9pm when, in deference to our neighbours, we stopped and we received the welcome news that we all hoped for that ringing could go ahead.
On the 3 Dec we are hosting the AGM of the local branch of the Guild of Bellringers. Bellringers love to “grab” new towers, or ones at which they have never rung at before, so we expect that the meeting will be more popular than usual. Particularly as we are the only 10 bell tower in the branch.
The following week, 10 Dec, we will be opening the tower so that members of the local community can come in and see the completed installation.
We will start to hold our weekly practice sessions in our own tower. Up until now we have been scattered between local towers. For the first six months these sessions will be closed to other ringers so that we as a band can get it as much practice as possible.
We anticipate that groups of other bands from all over the country will be in contact to come and ring. Our plan is to open the tower for a few hours one Saturday a month to accommodate them and not subject the village to excessive ringing.
We hope to ring for Christmas and New Year’s eve but we will not start ringing for services until after the bishop’s visit to dedicate the bells on 8 Jan 2017.