Liverpool, 22-24 Sept 2017

Helen Webb writes:

In the post-ringing pub-session after the Guild quarter peal day at St Clement Danes in January of this year, Dawn Neville suggested that a similar event could be organised in Liverpool: four quarter peals could be rung during the day and then we could go to the Liverpool Cathedral practice (if you were willing to get in a lift, which I am not, but it was still a great idea for everyone else!). Although in the clutches of post-event-organiser-fatigue, I agreed that it sounded sounded even better when Dawn offered to organise the towers so that I would only have to organise the bands.

True to her word, Dawn did a sterling job of organising the weekend. We struck lucky when Roger Franks of St Barnabas, Penny Lane agreed that all four quarter peals could be rung there. Pier Head agreed to being invaded by about fifteen visitors at their practice on the Friday evening; three towers were fore-warned that they may have visitors joining them for service ringing on the Sunday morning; and a booking for about 25 people was made at the Philharmonic Dining Rooms for the Saturday evening.

Not everyone who wanted to was able to make the practice at Pier Head on the Friday evening, courtesy of the M6! However, those ringing in the first quarter peal on the Saturday morning all made it to Penny Lane in good time. After ringing a plain course of Grandsire Triples so that the three associated Laddies in attendance could grab the bells, the first quarter began. All four quarter peals were scored. While we were not ringing we were able to sit in the church, drinking tea and coffee, consuming biscuits (big thank you to Dawn and Jeff for providing!), and catching up with friends from other districts. A total of 22 members rang: 17 from six of the other districts in the UK, and 5 from North Western district. A fifth quarter peal was rung at Garston; the band was composed of the three associated Laddies, one Lady, and four locals.

There was time between finishing at Penny Lane and the start of the practice, to have a look round Liverpool Cathedral. That morning I had said to Dawn and Jeff that I wouldn't bother going to the Cathedral because I wouldn't use the lift; Jeff said that he would check and see if the doors to the staircases could be unlocked...I wasn't sure how I felt about this! While the others were queuing for the lift, one of the Cathedral Constables, who is also a member of the Cathedral band, turned up and agreed to unlock the door to the first staircase and walk up with me - to check that the door to the nave roof-space was unlocked. Together with another visitor, we started walking up the stairs: I paced myself! I felt somewhat cheated at having to walk up a short flight of steps, only to have to walk down again on the opposite side in the nave roof-space; but then we started climbing the second staircase. My pace was somewhat slower, but we reached the door and entered what must be the largest of ringing chambers, with the doughnut looking dwarfed by the girders that criss-cross the vast space.

The Cathedral band were very accommodating and supportive, and we really appreciate that they gave up so much of their practice so that 20+ visitors could experience ringing their bells. I found ringing round the back easier than the front; as one of the locals said, the heavier bells have a rhythm of their own, whereas the front bells have to be held up for what initially feels like an excessive amount of time. Everyone had a go of at least ringing rounds on the 12, including the two people who were not particularly keen but who I "encouraged" to take the opportunity while they were there; retribution was swift and I was soon strapping the tenor to plain hunt on eleven. A touch of Little Bob Royal was also rung, with some members of the Guild in the band.

More people accompanied me descending the stairs than there were on the ascent. I'd been asked how many stairs there were but I hadn't counted on the way up; Rosemary Tuhey kept count of the 300+ steps on the way down. The Philharmonic Dining Rooms are a short walk from the Cathedral. Tosh and Lorna kindly carried between them the bag of bottled beers that was a thank you gift for Dawn; it was interesting to watch them navigate their way around lamp posts and art installations as they walked along Hope Street; I was somewhat puzzled by their detour across the road to the Philharmonic Halls, but they soon realised their error and headed back in the right direction!

Sunday morning saw a number of us successfully ringing at three towers for Sunday service: thank you to the tower captains and ringers at Pier Head, St Francis Xavier, and Tuebrook for making us all welcome. It was a great way to finish a successful weekend.

Details of the quarter peals rung at Penny Lane are here.

Ringing at Liverpool Cathedral