News 2018

December - Our Autumn Ringing Trip

Our Saturday Autumn Ringing Trip took place this year on 3rd November 2018 and was a day trip taking us over the border into Lancashire and back.  Ten of our own ringers and eight ringers from other local towers made up the party. 

We left Bingley in typical autumnal weather bright, cold and blustery and first visited the ancient, rural church of St Mary le Ghyll in Barnoldswick down a country lane bright with autumn colours.  Crossing over into Lancashire we then went on to Blackburn, to ring at St Jude’s, passing several bonfires and firework displays which were in preparation for the evening.  We had a warm welcome from the church members here and they put on a spread of sandwiches and scones and hot drinks to warm and refresh us before we started ringing the bells.  Lunch was at Townley Garden Centre, Burnley with excellent service and good quality, reasonably priced food, here the display themes were far more Christmas orientated.  After lunch, down the valley and back into Yorkshire in Todmorden, to ring at St Mary’s where church members and the organist were busy preparing for the next weekend’s Remembrance Services, themes of red and purple poppies were on display here and throughout the town.  Our last tower was at the Unitarian Church, standing in Gothic but unused splendour on the hill side above Todmorden.  Here our ringing finished as dusk fell around 4.30pm. 

As we left the church we were greeted by the flight of a colony of bats which we had clearly disturbed from their roost in the unused church, a display reminiscent of a scene from Halloween.

A very pleasant and interesting day for us all, with good company, good ringing and plenty of reminders of all the events which cluster around this time of year.  

So in that vein, may the bell ringers wish the congregations of the Connect 4 Churches the compliments of the this season. 

Ann Cossavella

November - Our Third Septuagenarian Ringer

This month has seen the number of our ringers who are over 70 years of age increase by one to three.  In the usual way, he celebrated his birthday by buying us all a round of drinks in the White Horse Inn after Tuesday ringing practice and we are promised a party with food, drink and music in another of Bingley’s hostelries later in the month.  To mark his three score and ten years we will also be ringing a celebratory quarter peal on the bells some time in November.

Our three septuagenarians have between them over 70 years of ringing experience and are all very valued members of the tower, offering support and experience to the relatively younger ringers and forming the backbone of the band that ring for Sunday services, weddings and special occasions throughout the year.  If we were to wonder what has kept them going and involved for so many years, the Central Council for Church Bell Ringing website tells us
that: “Change ringing is a non-competitive and non-violent team activity that is highly stimulating intellectually and mildly demanding physically, and makes a beautiful sound.  It develops mental and physical skills in a context of communal effort.  The intense concentration required brings euphoric detachment that cleanses the mind of the day's petty demands and frustrations. ….. Almost all ringing sessions include time for socializing.”  

Our septuagenarians would probably agree with that entire summary but we suspect, from their need for a little breather before starting ringing, that they would rather there were fewer stairs to climb in order to partake in this wonderful team activity!

Happy eighth decade to all three and long may you continue to climb those stairs and ring together.

Ann Cossavella

October - Ringing Remembers – Armistice 100

Over the month of October the bell ringers will be putting additional effort into practicing and preparing for November 11th 2018.  As always we will ring the bells in remembrance, with solemn, half muffled ringing to fit in with the church service and act of remembrance at 11.00am.  In addition this year we will then remove the muffles from the bells in preparation for 12.30pm when as many bells as possible throughout the country will ring together in an act of celebration marking 100 years since the end of the Great War.

When the bells rang out on 11th November 1918 they announced the end of the most catastrophic war the world had yet seen.  At the time, bells were at the heart of the community, marking events of great significance and communicating to people long before modern technology connected us.

1,400 bell ringers from across the UK died 
during the Great War and to honour their memory a recruitment drive has been going on for over a year to encourage the same number ie 1,400 new bell ringers to learn to ring in time for the November remembrance and celebration. All new ringers will ring together across the country on 11 November 2018 as part of the national commemorations to mark the centenary of the Armistice. 

At All Saints we are proud to say that three new ringers have been recruited and we have high hopes that all three of them will be ready to participate in the ringing on that day.  Although no All Saints’ Bell Ringers lost their lives in the Great War, most being too old to be called to fight, on this day of national remembrance and celebration in 2018, we will be remembering those from the congregation and community and their families who were not so blessed as they heard the bells ringing out 100 years ago. 

Ann Cossavella

September - Bell Ringers – The Church and The Town.

September marks the turn of a year for us in which we feel we have been very much involved with both the church and the wider Bingley community.  Last September, thanks to a town council grant the bells were silent while some parts were replaced or repaired.  The refurbishment was completed in time for us to ring for the last wedding of the year and importantly for Armistice Day in November.  We rang for several church services over the Christmas period, including Christmas Day and took part in the Christmas Tree Festival (there are no prizes for guessing our theme!)

Our 2018 then marked the year in which the bells had a significant 250th anniversary in April and All Saints Church a significant 500th.  So this year the bells have been rung to welcome the Bishop, in celebration of these anniversaries, to mark Ruth’s ordination to vicar and to thank the Town Council for their grant.  Continuing our local links we have recruited two new ringers this year, one who lives 100 yards from the church, the other a student at Beckfoot School. 

We also welcomed the church’s Beaver Colony in June for their annual visit to the bell tower, including a quiz with prizes and a chance to have a go at tolling the bells.  In June, our practices were silent as we supported the church’s anniversary event of a series of Tuesday organ recitals.  In July, the church and the town council came together in a civic service of celebration and we were pleased to be able to ring the bells to mark the occasion.  As Autumn approaches we hope we can continue to support the church and town community in this celebratory year, while at the same time preparing for a significant national event in November 2018, marking the end of the Great War.

Ann Cossavella

July / August - A Weekend Ringing Trip to North Wales.

A friend and sometime ringer at All Saints, Bingley moved to Wales and is now fulfilling her ambition as the only female fireperson on the Snowdon Heritage Steam Train.  It was with the intention of meeting up and ringing with her and also riding on “her” train that we planned a ringing trip to North Wales.  However, as the saying goes “man proposes: God disposes” and sadly the week before the trip our friend suffered a severe steam burn to her leg, from the train’s boiler, meaning she was unable to work or to join us.  However, 15 Bingley ringers and friends made their base in Llandudno, for the weekend and despite this news managed to spend a lovely three days, in glorious sunshine, in her area of North Wales, ringing in nine different towers in all.   

We rang bells from Buckley on the Welsh border down to Beaumaris on Anglesey.  All the towers’ bells handled differently, but unfortunately the bells at Rhuddlan were in such disrepair they were practically unringable.  The church community there were interested to see us try and were very welcoming.  We hope they are successful in all their fund raising efforts to refurbish the bells.  Easier bells were those of the “Marble Church” in Bodelwyddan and at Abegele, where one of our group was returning having first rung these bells in 1949.

The beautiful coast and mountains could not be ignored, so in Saturday evening’s sunshine in Llandudno we gave ourselves a choice of going up the Great Orme, walking around it, strolling on the pier or paddling in the sea.  On Sunday, en route home several ringers did take the trip on the Snowdon Mountain Railway, by the Heritage Steam Train, but sadly without its usual fireperson.  We all wish her a speedy recovery and return to work in this beautiful area of Wales.

Ann Cossavella

June - The 250th Anniversary Celebrations of the First Peal on All Saints’ Bells, Bingley - Sunday 22nd April 2018 

The same day was rung at Bingley, by six ringers, seven Treble Peals, containing 5040 changes, complete, in two hours and forty minutes”.

Leeds Intelligencer 12th April 1768

What a full and enjoyable day the tower bell and hand bell ringers had last month at the 250th celebration day.  We started by ringing before the Service, watched by the Chair of Bingley Town Council and her colleague. As we had hoped a bell theme then ran through the whole service and included a special poem, appropriate hymns, readings by our ringers and pieces played by the hand bell ringers and the junior hand bell team from Trinity All Saints’ School.  We enjoyed an excellent, humorous and supportive address and sermon by the Bishop, showing his impressive background research on our bells and the bell ringers past, present and recruited for the future.

In general we felt the church had done its bells proud, and it was a pleasure to see the large congregation swelled by a number of past ringers, ringers from other local towers and special guests.

After the service refreshments and celebratory drinks were abundant, alongside our historical display, souvenir buns, biscuits and a tombola.  Visitors had a go at ringing the Wombel, and our tower tour encouraged the Bishop to climb up to the bell chamber to take a good look at the action of bells as they were rung.  

We ended the day with a successful quarter peal rung on six bells.  The 45 minutes successful ringing, can be compared to the original 160 minutes of successful ringing, undertaken by the six Bingley ringers of 1768.  This great achievement by an all Bingley Band of Ringers, so many years ago, deserved such a day of acknowledgement and celebration by the church, its current ringers and their communities.  Our thanks go to everyone involved.  We feel it was both a thoroughly enjoyable day and a fitting remembrance of our 18th century predecessors’ great achievement.

Ann Cossavella / Solna Burnham

May - In Celebration of our Bells

One of our ringers is also a very talented and award winning poet.  She was asked to create a poem to celebrate the anniversary of the bells and this is to be read at the service of celebration on the 22nd April.

We are so proud of it, of her and of the bells that we thought it would be worth making it our piece for May. We hope you enjoy reading it.

In the louvre-filtered half-light, there’s a drowsy sense of rest.

Outside, a distant fluttering from a cantilevered nest.

The waiting bells hang gently as their ropes fall soft away

Through the plump-lipped bosses to the room below and the bright light of day.

There’s a creaking sigh of comfort as ancient heart-woods sink and settle,

And the hypnotic tick of clock gears as oiled metal slips through metal.

Up through the cool stone walls comes a sudden stirring shiver,

The door below is flung wide and the air begins to quiver;

The sound of footsteps rises round the twisting cochlear stair,

With laughs, and laboured breathing as the ringers gather there.

The tethered ropes are loosened and their sallies bob and play.

A low command, they tauten, and the bells begin to sway.

Their open mouths yaw sideways in an ever-widening arc,

Each clapper starts to beat the rim upon its self-gouged mark.

Back and forth above the bells each cartwheel pulley saws

To the point of upright apogee and a chance to “Stand!” and pause.

Deep within the belfry the insistent echo hums,

With a breath-held expectation as the call to “Look to!” comes.

The exhilarating freefall and then the slower climb,

Scything through their backstrokes then steady just in time.

“Hear us! Oh hear us! The alchemists made us sing.

This is what we live for, Listen to us ring!”

The grumbling tower rocks and swings like a ship upon the waves

And conducts their urgent message down to the churchyard and the graves.

“Oh hear our exultation all of you for whom we’ve tolled;

The rich, the poor, the frail, the strong, the foolhardy, the bold.

Oh hear us, for we’ve celebrated royalty and feast,

Armistice and marriage day and happiness and peace.”

The tidal clamour surges round the rooftops of the town,

And when all have heard the message there’s an order to “Ring down!”

The flying bells are gathered in and cease their strident clang.

Sinuous ropes are looped up high to the hooks where they always hang.

The ringers’ receding departure is marked by a banging door.

The harmonic humming dies away. The All Saints’ bells are quiet once more. 

Ann Cossavella (with thanks to our resident poet)

April - Planning for Sunday 22nd April 2018

Our preparations for our 250th anniversary celebration of the first peal on the bells, on Sunday 22nd April 2018, are now getting under way in some detail.  We are forming a small planning group to bring together both tower and hand bells ringers for the celebration.

Invitations are being prepared, we are seeking out appropriate pieces to be included in the church service, planning refreshments, thinking about souvenirs of the anniversary and most importantly are listing ways in which the bells themselves can feature prominently on the day.

As usual we will ring before the Sunday Service from 9.45am to 10.30 am, but would like to extend a particular invitation to anyone who is interested to come up to the ringing chamber and watch us ring the bells – we can accommodate about six people at a time.

The service will include readings, many on a bell theme, read by our ringers and pieces played by the hand bell ringers.

After the service we will provide refreshments and a display about the history of the tower and hand bells.  We also hope to provide an opportunity for people to have a go at ringing the Wombel, which is a frame containing a “mock” bell, which gives one the feel of tower bell ringing. Tours of the tower will also be offered if there is sufficient interest.

In the afternoon we hope to imitate one quarter of the success of the ringers of 1768 by ringing a quarter peal on the bells.  If completed this will be approximately 45 minutes of continuous, melodious and successful ringing, involving 1260 changes.  This compares to the 160 minutes of continuous, melodious and successful ringing, involving 5040 changes undertaken by the Bingley ringers of 1768.  To put this in perspective, while current members of the Bingley Band have rung some 67 peals as individuals in different churches, since the year 2000, there has not been a successful peal in All Saints, Bingley, by an all Bingley Band since 3rd February 1901.  This is why we feel that this great achievement by an all Bingley Band of Ringers, so many years ago, deserves a day of acknowledgement and celebration.

We do hope that as many people as possible will join in our celebration and the congregation will be swelled by a number of past ringers and special guests.

Ann Cossavella

March - Calling Past Bell Ringers And Their Descendants.

Along with many other groups nationally and those associated with All Saints, Bingley, the tower bell ringers must give some attention to new data protection rules which come into place in May 2018.  These rules require consent from anyone on whom we keep personal details for contact and communication purposes.  It is one of those odd coincidences that as we are required to become more protective of details of current ringers, we are actively trying to locate past ringers through old records.  Why so?  We are now beginning to plan our 250th anniversary celebration of the first peal on the bells.  This will take place on Sunday 22nd April 2018,  beginning with a specially themed church service, to which the bishop and other dignitaries are invited.  This will be followed by a social event and activities related to bell ringing at All Saints since 1768.  As part of this we would like to welcome back as many ex-bell ringers and the descendants of as many past bell ringers as possible.   

Local bell ringer, Karl Grave’s excellent book “Yorkshire Tails – The Story of Bingley Bells and Ringers” gives us the names of all known ringers from the past.  We will now put some effort into tracing forward to find any living descendants of these men (generally speaking, it use to be a male dominated past time).  In addition we would hope that some current church members, reading this, may know the whereabouts of some of our ex-ringers and ringers’ descendants, if so we would be very pleased to hear from them using the contact details below.  

As required, in terms of 21st century data protection, we are happy to state that: “we will not use contact details for any other purpose than to extend a very warm and sincere invitation to our up and coming celebrations!

Ann Cossavella

January / February  - The Bells Reverberating, Mellow, Sweet and Clear

Throughout December, those who live anywhere near the centre of Bingley have been exposed to the daily noise of tree felling on the St. Ives Estate.  The sound of power-saws, chippers and the crash of trees, as they fall, has been a daily background noise, which has carried up and down the valley.

This has led us to reflect on how far the sound of All Saints’ Bells carry and indeed if denuding the valley side of some of its trees will affect that sound.  As usual over the Christmas period we have rung for additional church services and community celebrations.  We have reports that under certain weather conditions, over that period, the bells have been heard on Druid’s Altar, in Eldwick, at Beckfoot and occasionally in Castlefields.  John Nicholson the Airedale Poet (1790 - 1843) was fond of the bells and often remarked on the extraordinary echoing of the bells, caused by the hills which rise steeply near the church.  His descriptive poem “Airedale” contains the lines; 

“While the sweet bells in tuneful changes ring,

When ev’ry tone the echoing wood receive,

And thus delightfully the ear deceive,

Reverberating, mellow, sweet and clear,

As tho’ a far more dulcet peal was there.”

We intend that the bells will continue to reverberate, mellow, sweet and clear throughout 2018, which is their 250th anniversary year, and hope that there is enough left of the “echoing woods” to carry the sound 
throughout the parish.

Ann Cossavella