Mid Devon Branch Tower Talk September/ October 2021

Heritage Open Day Kingskerswell

There seems to have been a mixed response to these events this year but at Kingskerswell it was a very busy day. The church was open from 10.00 am until late afternoon. Over 70 adults signed in at the door and most of them were accompanied by children. There were several activities laid on, some of which were aimed specifically at the children including quiz sheets of things to spot as they walked round. Of course, one of the main attractions for the adults was the refreshment area! Tea and coffee were on offer all day along with a wide variety of eatables!

The ringers had the tower open and tours to the roof were very popular. Interspersed with the tours the bells were regularly rung to demonstrate our art. A camera in the bell chamber streamed the action at that level down to the church and ringers were on hand throughout to explain what was going on.

In the church itself a mobile bell simulator and screen were set up to explain ringing to those who did not want to climb the stairs. All day there was an enthusiastic buzz from the visitors who were keen to learn more about their local church. During the day a group of intrepid walkers had been journeying from Shaldon. As they neared journeys end at Kingskerswell the bells were used to good effect to welcome them in.
After all this activity the ringers completed the day with a Quarter Peal of Grandsire Triples.  https://bb.ringingworld.co.uk/view.php?id=1459967 

One of the visitors was a professional photographer and we are very grateful that he has given permission for his superb picture being used in Tower Talk. More of his expert photography can be found at www.peterprior.com The ringers are – L to R – Philip Stevens, Phil Turner, Liz Stentiford, David Moate, Mo Stevens and Peter Lister.  https://photos.app.goo.gl/MaTejCdBcJsh4AWJA 

The parish was delighted with the great response and we know that the ringers were tired but happy at the end of a very busy day.
Postscript – we are delighted that several new trainees resulted from the day – we look forward to hearing of their progress.

Martin Dodd Memorial ringing Day – 25th September

The branch was shocked to hear of Martin's untimely death on Good Friday. Due to pandemic restrictions only a very limited number were allowed at the funeral and the planned memorial service also had to be cancelled. Therefore, it was very pleasing that a ringing day in his memory finally went ahead and was a great success.

One of Martin's greatest pleasures in ringing was an outing (often known as a "tower grab") so it was good that several local towers were open during the day so that ringers could enjoy a variety of bells in just the way that Martin would have enjoyed. Kingskerswell and Kenn towers were open in the morning followed by St James Teignmouth. This was particularly fitting as Martin had worked so hard recently to restore ringing there following pigeon ingress.

The focus then moved to St Michael's where a display of photographs covering Martin's life had been put together as well as a book stall selling his wide collection of books in aid of Teignmouth bell fund. Here a service took place to remember Martin but also to dedicate a plaque in his memory. One of the old bell wheels has been mounted on a wall at the base of the tower and on this are fixed memorials to former Teignmouth ringers. It was very appropriate that Martin's plaque should be immediately under the one to his wife, Barbara. Following the service the bells were put to good use and the cake and refreshment stall were particularly well patronised.

The theme of an outing continued in the evening when more towers were open. These included Dawlish, Bishopsteignton, Ideford and Alphington. Unfortunately not all the bells at Alphington were available due to a broken stay but good use was made of the other 7.

All in all, a superb day celebrating the life of someone who worked tirelessly for his beloved Teignmouth. Although most of us will remember his ringing life, he supported many other aspects of life in Teignmouth including the work of the RNLI. The one person missing, of course, was Martin himself. But all of us had the satisfaction of knowing how much he would have enjoyed it – particularly the fact that his Godson was able to enjoy ringing at most of the towers open. His family had travelled from Basingstoke to take part.
There is a big gap in Teignmouth ringing but we know that the band he worked so hard to maintain will now make sure that ringing continues to thrive there in just the way Martin would wish.

Geoff Williamson RIP

You will have seen the sad news that Geoff died in September. There was a good ringing presence at his funeral and the eight bells at Ipplepen were rung before the service to Call Changes. Also, as it was something Geoff had been working on, a well struck 120 of Plain Bob Doubles was rung as well. Geoff took up ringing quite late in life, but it was obvious that it was something that gave him great pleasure. He rang at several local towers and was a regular at the practices at Upton, Kingskerswell, Ipplepen and Berry Pomeroy. He also rang at Coffinswell on Sunday mornings. Ringers from all these towers were present at his funeral.

The quarter peal mentioned above at Kingskerswell was rung in his memory as well as a handbell quarter peal in Paignton https://bb.ringingworld.co.uk/view.php?id=1460362 

60 years ago

Extract from minutes of Mid Devon Branch meeting 23rd September 1961

The meeting was held at Buckfast Abbey and the minutes (written in the bold hand of then secretary, Don Roberts) recorded that a record number (unspecified) rang the bells from 2.00 until 4.00pm and all ringing was on 10 or 12 bells and "the standard methods were rung".
Following a service in the Abbey chapel tea was taken in the "Car Park Café" followed by the business meeting. In those days 4 business meetings were held every year!

"Under AOB, Mr Bartlett spoke of his concern for the continued silence of the fine 8 bells of St Marychurch, Torquay. The meeting then heard some forthright opinions on the subject. A proposition was made that the secretary write to the vicar and Wardens of St Marychurch for information concerning intentions for the bells. Carried by 17 votes to 12. Mr Wheaton suggested that a copy of the letter be sent to the press, but no vote was taken on this. It was then agreed that the secretary should give his draft of the letter to the next meeting". There is obviously more to this than could be reported by formal minutes, perhaps we can persuade Don to give us the juicy details!!!

What a delight to know that eventually St Marychurch bells would be heard again and eventually rehung and augmented to 10. It would take another 14 years and a change of incumbent before that happened. That, of course, is another story!

Ringers moving to the area

One of the unforeseen (by us anyway!!) products of the lockdown is that several ringers have moved to the area. We are delighted to welcome them to our towers and to the branch. If you know of any of these ringers who would like to receive our emails please encourage them to contact our secretary, Nigel Birt This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  They will need to give written consent to receive emails. We hope to see them at -

Future Events

Branch practice Wolborough – Friday 15th October 7.30 pm
You should already have had a notice of this practice – please try and get there if you can – Wolborough are a fine ring of bells with interesting sallies!

Branch AGM

Plans are now well advanced for our AGM.  You should have Saturday 13th November firmly in your diaries. We are really looking forward to visiting Kingskerswell with their lovely new ring of eight. Hope to see you there. Full details in due course.