Final Contest

St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol

Saturday 31 May 1975

Test Piece: 255 Stedman Cinques

Judges: John R Mayne (Chief), Christopher Woolley, Roger Baldwin


Twelve-Bell Striking Competition

At St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol

What, for some years past, had been just an idea at the back of the mind of a ringer living in the Bristol area, became fact on Saturday, May 31, when well over 150 ringers, their relatives, friends and supporters, gathered in and around the magnificent Church of St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol, for the first ever Bristol City Branch 12-bell Striking Competition. The arrangements and organisation left little to be desired and even the weather-man co-operated.

It was just 12 months ago that Mr Pat Bird put forward his idea for holding the competition and immediately found support from other leading ringers in and around Bristol. "Feelers" were put out to one or two centres of 12-bell ringing and these, too, were encouraging and pledged support. A committee was set up, consisting of Pat Bird (co-ordinator), Chris Kippin, Vivienne Rigby, Jim Taylor and Graham Colborne, and ways and means were discussed for ensuring a successful conclusion to what proved to be a mammoth task of organisation.

The Vicar of St Mary Redcliffe (Canon K J Clark) gave his consent, although a time limit had to be set, and invitations were sent to about half-a-dozen areas. In the event five teams entered, representing ringers from the areas in and around Reading, Leicester, Bristol, Birmingham and one from the Ancient Society of College Youths.

The rules sent to the teams were simple and direct. The touch was to be 255 Stedman Cinques preceded by four minutes' practice ringing. Various minor items were also detailed as a guide to the competing bands.

Well before the time of the draw (1.45) there was an air of expectancy and excitement among the ringers and their supporters and the extensive grounds around the church gave the appearance of a festive occasion. The vicar mounted the steps of a memorial and, addressing the assembled crowd, welcomed them all to this interesting and historic event among ringers.

The order for ringing resulted in the local ringers, Bristol, first (not an enviable position); the College Youths drew second place, followed in order by Reading, Leicester and Birmingham. The three judges - John Mayne, Christopher Woolley and Roger Baldwin - had already been briefed and taken to secluded niches, the "official" tape recorder was set and at a given time the first team got down to it. The organising stewards kept the teams moving in and out of the tower and there were red faces and anxious expressions as each band emerged, particularly when obvious little mistakes had occurred.

At 4.30 all moved away to St Thomas's Church Hall, where a buffet meal had been prepared by Mrs Heather Kippin and several helpers, who received special thanks for their preparations and service. The all-important moment arrived for the results to be announced and, after an opening prayer by the vicar, Mr Bird thanked all for their support and encouragement. He said that the trophy which was to be presented was a memorial shield, made by a local craftsman and given in memory of Emlyn (Fred) Hancock who for so many years had worked tirelessly for the church and to improve the ringing in Bristol, particularly at St Mary Redcliffe. "Fred" Hancock had organised the making of a stereo long-play record of St Mary Redcliffe bells but unfortunately died a few days before it was launched. Indeed the launching took place on the day of his funeral.

John Mayne "indulged", as he said in a few remarks "on this unique occasion". It was a daunting task to sit in judgement on the ringing by so many of the best ringers in the country. It was not easy for even the best of teams to produce good ringing to order, and with the knowledge that experienced ringers were listening to experienced ringers, who had to adapt to local conditions, it was a little nerve-racking. The touch was not a long one and for mixed bands it took time to settle down. The size of the handstroke lead gap had not been taken into consideration too greatly, but what had been noted were 24 equidistant soundings between leads. Consistency was required and lack of this had let some bands down.

Christopher Woolley then took his stand and said somewhat ruefully that his was the most unpopular part of the proceedings - giving criticisms of each team's performance. However, his comments were well received, and then it was the turn of Roger Baldwin to give out the judges' findings - commencing with the team in fifth place. This was the first band that rang, and was from Bristol; in 4th place were Reading, 3rd Birmingham, 2nd the College Youths, and the winners, Leicester, a result which brought tremendous applause. Canon Clark presented the trophy to Mr John Jelley and each member of the team came forward to receive a certificate. All the ringers who had participated received individual certificates, the conductor in each case being presented with his band's 12 copies.

Five "scribes" - Jennifer Taylor, Lesley Bladon, Mary Bird, John Brain and Chris Kippin - were in attendance and filled in the details of the name and final position on each of the certificates. Mr Peter Staniforth, on behalf of the winning team, congratulated the organising committee on the arrangements and thanked all who had helped in any way with the competition which, he said, had been an outstanding success - a verdict with which all present heartily agreed.

It is hoped to hold a similar event next year in a different area and perhaps extend the invitations to a larger number of 12-bell ringing bands.

[RW Pg 496 June 13 1975]