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Barrow Bells - Learn to Ring a Church Bell

Could you be part of the new era for Barrow Bells?

The bell-ringers at St James' Church in Hindpool, Barrow-in-Furness are looking for volunteers to "have a go" at church bell ringing.

The bells at St James have now been restored, and we are just finishing some refurbishment of the ringing-room and spiral staircase. So we would like to teach enough people to ring to so that we have plenty of local ringers for the future. Practices have already started on Wednesday evenings between 7.30 and 9pm, and for those interested in ringing for service, Sunday service ringing between 10 and 10.30am begins on March 16th 2014 (the weekend after the re-dedication of the bells).

How would you like to learn to be able to ring between 227 kg (lightest bell) and 621 kg (heaviest bell) of metal by yourself!

It is FREE and there is no obligation or commitment. We hope you will find it fun and interesting and want to keep coming along.

Ringing does not need much strength or musical ability, but all ringers need to learn the skill and technique. There are lots of reasons to try out ringing as a pastime, and many of these are described on the Introduction to ringing page in section Who rings church bells and why?.

The only restrictions are that volunteers need to be

  1. At least 10 or 11 years old (to be tall and heavy enough to comfortably and safely ring a bell), and
  2. Sufficiently mobile and comfortable to use a spiral staircase to reach the ringing room (approx 41 steps to ringing room, and a further 60 steps to belfry)

If you are interested in learning to ring, or are not sure but are simply curious and want to find out more, please get in touch or drop-in at one of the teaching sessions.

What to expect (at a teaching session)

Learning the basics of ringing a bell cannot be done in a single afternoon, but some people learn surprisingly quickly. Everyone learns at their own pace.

Each learner is tutored under close supervision from an experienced ringer, and each lesson is staged to gradually build upon what was learned previously. It takes a few sessions to become proficient enough to be allowed to ring a bell without close supervision.

  1. Learn the technique and weight to pull the rope, and the tutor does the rest. Typically done in the first session.
  2. Learn how to catch the 'fluffy' part of the rope (known as the sally). Typically done in the second session, but quick learners may do in first session.
  3. Learn how to combine steps 1 & 2. This may take two or more sessions to improve technique and avoid over-pulling or under-pulling the rope.
  4. Joined by other ringers that ring before and after (e.g. 123456), and the student learns to control the speed to make their bell ring out at the right time. Under close supervision of tutor
  5. The student gets to ring with the other ringers (but without the tutor standing by their side), and ring at steady speed to show they have mastered the basic bell control.
  6. If the student gets this far, they learn 'call changes' where one ringer calls out for two specific bells to change places in the sequence so that 123456 might become 124356.
  7. Learn to ring at steady speed as the last bell, and the bells in front switch places in the sequence, while the learner maintains steady speed. This is known as 'tenoring'.
  8. There are many steps to follow, but the ability to ring 'call changes' is the bread and butter of bell ringing, and if the student wishes to stick there, and do not want to learn anything more, that is quite OK.

We hope to train people at least as far as stage 5, and preferably 6 or 7, within 8 to 12 weeks.

There is always something new to learn and improve, even for experienced ringers. So it never becomes dull... There is always something new and exciting around the corner. It can also be very rewarding simply to ring something very well (with no mistakes), or ring for someone's wedding.


The bells have been restored and the bells sound fantastic, and ring very easily.

Our practice night is Wednesday evening (7.30 to 9pm) where we offer free tuition with an experienced ringer supervising.
If you are interested in learning to ring, please just drop in (doorbell at side of tower door if door is locked), or get in touch and let us know your availability.