Parish Fellowship Report

Parish Fellowship Report July Magazine

At our meeting at the end of March 2017, Geoffrey Cooper gave us an interesting talk about bells and bell-ringing. He began his talk by telling us that bell-ringing is a serious business which can easily become both an obsession and a way of life. He himself has been a ringer for some 69 years and has rung in many locations and towers both in this country and overseas.   . Weighing over 16 tons, Great Paul at St Paul’s Cathedral is one of our countries heaviest bells. However, this is a mere stripling compared to some other bells. Those include the Olympic bell weighing 23 tons; a bell in China weighing 53 tons; a bell in Burma weighing 80 tons; a bell in Moscow weighing 125 tons and another Russian bell weighing 180 tons.

Geoffrey then outlined the process of casting bells. He started by telling us about the early and rather crude method of casting that was largely a matter of trial and error. He took us through the development of the process, concluding with the scientific and specialised processes of tuning that form part of modern bell casting.

He proceeded to tell us about the many different kinds of bell. These included the Curfew Bell, which was initiated by William the Conqueror. There were also the Seeding bell, the Harvest bell and the Gleaning bell. More prosaic bells included the pancake bell and the oven bell. There were also Ship’s bells, Mill bells; Pub (last orders) bells; School bells; chiming clock bells and door bells. And finally, in more than one sense of the word, the passing bell and the death bell– rung by the sexton and verger at the local church.

Geoffrey then told us that bell ringing is the second oldest art – the oldest being archery. Change ringing was introduced in about 1600AD by Fabian Steadmen. Today there are numerous ‘methods’ including “Guiseley surprise”; “Cooper Surprise” and “Harry Ramsden’s Surprise” among many others. Geoffrey concluded his talk by reminding us that one of the most famous bells in the world is regularly heard on the radio – the 13 and a half ton bell Great Tom, that hangs in the Queen Elizabeth Tower at the Palace of Westminster (usually referred to as “Big Ben”)

Paul Brylov gave the vote of thanks.

Parish Fellowship Report June Magazine

At our meeting in February 2017, Eric Verge gave us an interesting and informative talk about the HMS Belfast, upon which he served. HMS Belfast is now permanently moored in the pool of London opposite the Tower of London. Her motto is: “Pro tanto quid retribuamus” (“We give as good as we get”).

HMS Belfast, a heavy cruiser, was built at the famous Harland and Wolff shipyard in 1936 and was launched by Neville Chamberlain on 17th March 1938. She was commissioned on 5th August 1938 and had a ship’s complement of 850 officers and men. In the course of her long and distinguished service she reaped countless battle honours including those earned at the North Cape in 1943; the Arctic in in 1943; Normandy in 1944 and Korea between 1950 and 1953.

HMS Belfast saw a great deal of action in the course of her career and sustained damage on a number of occasions. She was damaged by a mine in the Firth of Forth, following which she needed extensive repairs. In the course of those repairs she was fitted with radar. On D Day she fired the first broadside, and continued to support the troops until her guns were worn out. Following this she was docked for a refit. At a later date she was hit by a Korean Anti-tank shell, following which she returned to Hong Kong for repairs.

In a career, in the course of which she toured the world, there were many highlights. At one time she was the Flagship for a fleet admiral, part of her function being to show the flag for Britain and to offer assistance in emergencies. Later she was part of the reserve fleet berthed in Fareham Creek, Portsmouth. Still later, she sailed as Flag ship to the Far East. She was present when Princess Alexandra reviewed the Far East Fleet in Hong Kong. In East Africa HMS Belfast provided the Royal Guard.

Following her retirement her former Captain, now Admiral Morgan Giles MP, proposed that she became a museum ship. The proposal was accepted and she was fitted out as a museum ship, although this required extensive internal changes. She was then handed over to the War Museum and towed to her present location.

Peter Denbigh gave the vote of thanks                                      Paul Brylov