Anniversary bells ring out at last

In Morpeth clocktower are Bill Davidson, Jeremy Housden,Barbara Davies, Kevin Maughan, Alan Barber, Karen Dickinson, Julie Bell and Stephen Bell .
In Morpeth clocktower are Bill Davidson, Jeremy Housden,Barbara Davies, Kevin Maughan, Alan Barber, Karen Dickinson, Julie Bell and Stephen Bell .

THE bells were ringing out for an extended Christmas run in Morpeth as a special anniversary tribute was finally completed.

Eight bellringers gathered at Morpeth Clock Tower last week for a second attempt at chiming a peal in celebration of the 75th anniversary of its timepiece.

The group had first tried to ring the three-hour peal in October, but just about 10 minutes from the end there was a lapse of concentration and the attempt failed.

However, the ringers were determined to return to complete their tricky challenge and quietly set about their task on Thursday, knowing that just a single mistake could jeopardise the tribute again.

This time they were not to be beaten and the peal was completed without a hitch, taking two hours and 51 minutes.

Tower Captain Richard Major said: “This time I deliberately didn’t tell anyone about the peal to ease the pressure on the bellringers so although people will have heard the bells they probably weren’t aware what was going on.

“It was exactly the same as the attempt in October, with the same bellringers and the same composition, except this time they succeeded.

“I was there at the beginning and at the end.

“The previous attempt had failed ten minutes from the end and it was very tense as that time approached, but they got past it and at the end everybody was relaxed and very pleased and proud to have done it.”

The peal was composed by Alan Barber and involved 5,075 changes – the pattern in which the bells are rung – in honour of the clock’s anniversary.

All eight of the tower’s bells were used and due to the difficulty of the task experienced bellringers were enlisted from across the region to complete it, with only Bill Davidson representing the resident Morpeth Clock Tower Bellringers.

The other ringers were Julie Bell, Karen Dickinson, Barbara Davies, Alan Barber, Kevin Maughan, Stephen Bell and Jeremy Housden.

Mr Major said: “They are all experienced bellringers and ring peals quite often, but this was a special one in that it had 5,075 changes, which is a difficult length to achieve.

“It is not necessarily physically exhausting to do, but it requires total mental concentration throughout the peal so it is quite demanding.”

While the Clock Tower dates back to the 17th Century, its present clock was installed in 1936 in memory of Morpeth jeweller Andrew Foster.

The bellringers are planning a number of peals this year, including the traditional Saturday peal after the Morpeth Mayor-Making, a special chime for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and two arrangements in celebration of the Olympics, one to welcome the torch to the town and the other to mark the start of the Games.