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Barrow Bells - Tower Stewardship

This page attempts to convey the roles, responsibilities, and policies underlying the everyday operation of the tower. From Health and Safety to Social Activities!


A constitution has been written and agreed by the members of the St James Society of Change Ringers, and is available to download or view HERE


There are several positions that are filled in the tower in an informal or formal capacity, however, like many other towers, one individual may hold more than one position (e.g. the tower captain is often also the ringing master)

There are responsibilities that are likely to be held by persons outside of the tower, such as the Child Protection Officer, who will work with the the tower captain and other officers to ensure that the correct people undergo DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checks (formerly CRB - Criminal Record Bureau) and formulate and agree a policy of good practice to ensure the protection of any youth that is in the care of the Tower and of the Church. At St James, there is a member of the PCC who has the role of CPO, and can be contacted through the vicar/PCC (see Contacts)

POSITIONRole & Responsibilities
TOWER CAPTAINThe Tower Manager or otherwise referred to as 'Major Clanger' in fun :).
  • A key role is to liaise between the Vicar/PCC and the Ringers, and must be acceptable to both groups to be an effectve person in this position. The PCC & Vicar appoint the Tower Captainand may be co-opted to attend PCC meetings to represent the ringers and prsent matters relating to the bells and ringing for discussion at the PCC meeting.
  • Manages the bell tower on behalf of the incumbent. It is the incumbent who always has ultimate authority
  • He/She is the leader and figurehead of the team and the ringers' representative to the outside world, although the secretary may share contact with public and press.
  • Chairs tower meetings
  • Arranges ringing for services, weddings, funerals, visiting bands (visits, quarter peals, and peals), practice times, etc. with the vicar and the PCC
  • Makes sure that any policies such as the (1) protection of young people, (2) health & saftety (3) maintenance (4) ringing frequency and sound control, are enforced in the tower in line with agreed good practice. Where the tower captain delegates some responsibility to another (e.g. to Instructor) then they also take on the associated responsibility; but the Tower Captain should still remind them of their duty if he/she notices that policies are not being followed.
  • Does not have to be the most skilled ringer in the team, but should be a good leader and be able to make all individuals feel valued as members of the team, encouraging a team spirit and resolve differences when they occur.
  • With the steeple keeper and other members of the team, make sure that any new, increased or reduced Health & Safety risks are considered and action taken accordingly, and any maintenance that is sufficiently significant to require a faculty, is pursued in the proper manner
RINGING MASTERRuns the practice night, making sure everyone has an equal share of ringing, calling rounds and call changes, or calling 'touches' of methods, but encouraging others to do the same. A good ringing master is a competent ringer and able to call and 'put people right' quickly (i.e. help the other ringers to correct any mistakes)
INSTRUCTORHelps to train ringers of all abilities, from basic handling for novices, to more complex ringing and conducting for more experienced ringers. Someone with a kind nature and patience. Sometimes can be someone from another tower, or can be helped by someone from another tower.
SECRETARYOtherwise known as the Tower Correspondent. Receives and answers letters about the tower, and bells. Possibly produce minutes of any tower meeting. Often also acts as a Social events organiser, from an evening out, to a ringing outing.
TREASURERLooks after the money for ringing for weddings, and donations from any visiting bands. Managing petty cash, and paying for minor repairs. When larger sums are handled, liaises with the PCC treasurer and the bell account held by the PCC.
STEEPLE KEEPEREnsures proper and regular maintenance of the bells and bell frame. Manages repairs and ensures all repairs are logged, and supports team in submitting faculty applications if necessary. Ties clappers and muffles bells when necessary. Is in charge of everything to do with the bells in the belfry above the ringing room.

There may also be one or more of the above who receive training to become First-Aiders as a precaution, to be able to assist with any injury sustained in the tower (however rare and despite taking every practical H&S precaution)


  1. Child Protection Policy: Any youth or vulnerable person should always have 2 or more adults present at any time, of which at least one (preferably 2) should be CRB checked. Make sure sufficient adults are CRB checked and trained, using support from the Child Protection Officer of the Church, and other CRB checked persons. Obtain permission from parent/guardian for youth to attend. Further information about safeguarding is available in a local safeguarding article, and the central council website has published CCCBR guidance.
  2. Health & Safety Policy: Have regular (min. annual) meeting to discuss and reassess any changes to risks percieved. Ensure Fire assessment takes place regularly, and make sure all ringers know evacuation procedure, raise the alarm, and how to handle any extinguisher. Access to the tower, ringing room and belfry should be managed to keep the risk to health and safety within acceptable boundaries. The steeple keeper should have overiding authority, with other ringing and PCC members with suitable understanding of the risks being granted access corresponding to their expertise. Generally an individual ought to avoid working alone in the tower wherever possible, and make sure there are other people who know where they are andwhen to expect them back. When experienced persons are not present, access to the tower, ringing room, and bells should have physical barriers and clear signs warning of the risks. Suitable clothing should be worn (e.g. ear defenders in bell chamber/steeple if any bells are ringing). Do not leave bells 'up' unless it is safe to do so (sufficient precautions are in place to make risk of injury sufficiently low).
  3. Equal Opportunity Policy: A statement [TBD] to the effect that anyone of any age 10 or above, irrespective of gender, faith/religion, race, or background, are welcome to join in. A declaration that due to circumstances outsite control of church, someone with restricted mobility may not be able to join in because the only access to the ringing room is using a spiral staircase. Maybe offering handbell practice in vestry or church if we can get a set of handbells in a working state. Description of procedure to raise concerns over any discrimination [TBD].
  4. Ringing Times: Agree service and practice ringing times with Vicar and PCC. Agree a frequency of ringing for non-standard ringing (visiting bands, branch/association meetings, peal and quarter peal requests), and a procedure for getting requests approved.


The tower is affiliated to the Lancashire Association of Change Ringers (LACR), and is one of the towers that is listed in the Furness and South Lakeland branch of the LACR.

Historically, Barrow-in-Furness was part of Lancashire before the county boundary changes in 1974, and the tower had been part of the Lancashire Association since the LACR was formed in 1876. Initially opart of the Preston Branch, a Furness Branch was created in about 1905.

Note: LACR Affiliation fees are paid by St James PCC on behalf of the Church and the ringers, and the money raised contributes to the LACR Bell Restoration Fund.

The Church belongs to the Diocese of Carlisle, but the Carlisle Diocesan Guild of Change Ringers did not extend as far South as Barrow-in-Furness... until 2018. Kirkby Stephen has been affiliated to both CDGCBR and LACR for a number of years. In recognition of the contribution from the Carlisle Guild to the restoration of the bells at St James, a proposal was unanimously approved at tower annual meeting and incorporated in our constitution, to approach and submit an application to become affiliated to the CDGCBR. This was formally ratified and representitives were delighted to be given such a very warm welcome to the Carlisle Guild at the AGM in Wigton on 21st April 2018.

After ringers have demonstrated that they can master essential bell control to be able to ring a bell safely when unsupervised, and once they have shown enduring interest in te 'exercise' (as ringing is sometimes known), a ringer will be encouraged to consider becoming a member of either/both the CDGCBR or LACR, and if so, they will be proposed at the relevant branch/guild meeting(s).

The LACR also promotes a certificate of proficiency which can be awarded on achieving a set standard; including ringing a full peal or two quarter peals, and being able to conduct a touch (at least 2 courses) of any ringing method.


Training will be co-ordinated by the tower Instructor.

Other experienced ringers from the tower will assist wherever possible, and help will sometimes be sought from experienced ringers from other towers.

There are also regular and special training days promoted by our branch, and annual training days offered by both the CDG (usually in Whitehaven) and the LACR, which will be extremely useful in developing and improving the standard of ringing in the tower. These events are also an excellent social outing for anyone from the tower, whether attending as an student or helper/instructor.

A structured learning scheme with targets to aim for, but encouraged at a comfortable speed for the individual, should be adopted, and rewarded (even if the reward is just a verbal congratulation or achievement noted in the Belfry records).


The social aspect of the Society is crucial to retaining and growing the number and standard of ringers. Not all the ringers will be practising Christians, and may not therefore ring for, or attend services. However all ringers have a benefit to the Society and ultimately the Church, by helping to create a positive social atmosphere that encourages ringers to join the Society and attend regularly, and also improves the standard of ringing of all the other ringers.

If the society grows enough, there could be a new role of Social Secretary. For the time being this will be the collective responsibility of all the officers and members of the Society.

There ought to be an annual tower outing, to which members of adjacent St Mary's Dalton-in-Furness should also be invited. We may also hopefully be invited along to join in their annual tower outing.

There should be shared transport to take part in Furness and South Lakeland branch events, including monthly meetings, BBQs, Carol Services, 6 bell striking competition etc.

The Society needs to hold its own social events which may (or may not) involve any ringing - e.g. anyone for Karting (or 10 pin Bowling if/when the new alley is built)?

There should be an open day at least once every year, to promote bellringing within the community, and potentially recruit new ringers. At other times of the year the Society can invite other groups to visit - Scouts, Guides, Youth Groups, Schools; to make them aware of what we do.

The adults may adjourn to a local hostelry when the ringing practice finishes.