LACR Bolton Branch

Newspaper Cuttings

Bolton Evening News 15th November 1886

Bolton Evening News and District Recorder, Monday 15th November 1886


A strike has occurred amongst the bellringers of the Saviour's Church, Pikes-lane. The ringers have been persistent in their practices during the week, and this being complained of by sick people in the neighbourhood, they were ordered to restrict their practices to one night a week. This they refused to do and have struck, the fine peal of bells being conspicuous on Sundays by their silence.

Bolton Evening News 16th November 1886

The Bolton Evening News and District Recorder, Tuesday 16th November 1886


We hear that the bellringers of St. Saviour's Church, Bolton, who are on strike, will not be consoled by much public sympathy. In towns, at any rate, opinion is likely to side with the Church authorities, who desired these enthusiastic ringers to practice less frequently. Bell ringing is no doubt a very ancient and very admirable form of musical art. It has poetical and historical associations which cannot be overlooked. Rural England would lose one of its charms if all the church bells were suddenly silenced. But bell ringing is an art which cannot be pursued without regard to surrounding conditions. It is a wonder that a cry has not gone up before now for their summary destruction. The sufferings of people who live in close proximity to a church with a peal, or even a solitary bell, are really severe. The solitary bell is quite as great an infliction as a peal. Sunday morning is made hideous by a doleful call to the early service, and the funeral performance is repeated at frequent intervals throughout the day. If any practical end was served by church bells in towns there would be less to say against them. It cannot be necessary to ring bells to let people know that the hour for service has arrived. Clocks are cheap now-a-days and everybody knows the time. It can hardly be said that they help to fill the churches, since people who are disposed to go to church would go whether the bells were rung or not. The Bolton ringers will have to fight their battle alone. Their devotion to their art is to be commended, but in their enthusiasm they must have some regard for those who do not look upon bell ringing in quite the same light - Manchester Examiner. We learn that the ringers at All Soul's Church are also on strike because they have been restricted to one practice per week.

Bolton Evening News 17th November 1886

The Bolton Evening News and District Recorder, Wednesday 17th November 1886


To the Editor of the Bolton Evening News.
Sir, - Will you kindly allow us to refer to the bellringers' strike, as you have termed it, at the Saviour's Church. We beg to say that we have not struck, but have given over ringing, thoroughly disgusted at bearing the burdens of others. We have strived hard to acquire the art that would make the grand peal of bells speak nobly for the parish at large, but we have not been able under the constant fire that has poured its galling lava constantly amongst us. The churchwardens are the sole instigators of all the grievance. As to your paragraph concerning the ringers being persistent in their practice to the annoyance of the sick, it is not correct, as we always readily gave up practice when notice was given. Yours, &c.,
November 17th, 1886.

Bolton Evening News 17th November 1886

The Bolton Evening News and District Recorder, Thursday 18th November 1886


Sir, - In justice to the churchwardens of The Saviour's Church, if they are to be credited with the altercation, as the letter of the bellringers in your issue of yesterday states, I beg to be allowed to say how great has been the relief of even fairly distant *** by the cessation of the evening bellringing. The almost nightly clangour has been bad enough for those in health; what it must have been for those who were ill it is difficult to ****. Pray heaven this strike at all events may not be soon settled. I enclose my card. - I am, yours very truly.

Bolton Evening News 22nd November 1886

The Bolton Evening News and District Recorder, Monday 22nd November 1886


On Sunday at the morning and evening services at The Saviour's Church, the bells, which have been silent during the past two Sundays owing to the ringers having sent in their resignations, were rung. The difficulty caused by the resignation of the campanologists in a body has been successfully overcome by a fresh body of ringers volunteering their services, these being connected with the Sunday School. Frequent practices have taken place during the past few days under the leadership of one of the old ringers, who did not agree with the action of his co-ringers, and considering their short training they manipulated the fine peal on Sunday with a skillfulness for which they are to be congratulated. we understand that in the early part of the past week the main body of the late ringers expressed a wish to the church officials to be allowed to withdraw their resignations, but this was peremptorily refused. At All Soul's Church the difficulty there with the ringers is, we are informed, very soon to be overcome, for a fresh set of ringers are now in course of training.

Bolton Evening News 23rd November 1886

The Bolton Evening News and District Recorder, Tuesday 23rd November 1886


To the Editor of the Bolton Evening News
Sir, - If you wish to be convinced upon this question , come to Tong Moor, for if there exists a greater nuisance and more non-euphonious bell, I know not where to find one. To people who do not want to go to prayers at 5 30 in the morning, before the cock crows, and have about four editions between that and business time, certainly we may say, as Othello said, "Cease that horrid bell." A showman's gong at Fair time is certainly superlative in tone , and I sympathise deeply with those who are so much annoyed with these campanologists in Bolton. Yours, &c.

Bolton Evening News 26th November 1886

The Bolton Evening News and District Recorder, Friday 26th November 1886


To the Editor of the Bolton Evening News.
Sir, - In answer to "Chorley-road's" remarks as to the bellringers at The Saviour's Church, let us point out that the almost "nightly clangour" will now have to start from the beginning. What this poor sufferer will have to stand words cannot tell. The strike, as he terms it, will never be settled with the band of men who gave over, so that he will get his wish, and we hope his share for his trouble. We wish, however, to correct an error which appeared in Monday's paper, that the late ringers expressed a wish to withdraw their resignations. This is totally incorrect. The late ringers are to a man as resolute as ever. The present leader was one of the first to my give over, but the last to perform his word. We are perfectly satisfied with our decision, and mean to stick to it, and we sincerely hope that the new band will have more comfort than their predecessors. We are inclined to think that when "Ting-Ting" at Tong Moor classes a solitary bell with one of the finest peals in Bolton his opinion is valueless, and with him the matter may rest till he has learned the rudiments of music.

Bolton Evening News October 1994

Bolton Evening News October 1994

Bells toll for last time

BELL-RINGERS from churches in the Bolton area gathered for a nostalgic last session on the eight bells of Holy Trinity Church.

And, as the huge bells rang out for the last time across Bolton town centre, the reverberating sounds were recorded for posterity.

This week workmen are removing the bells from the redundant church.

But they won't be melted down as scrap.

They will have a new lease of life at Preston Parish Church.

The bellringing group normally hold their Friday night practice sessions at Bolton Parish Church but decided to switch to Holy Trinity when it was learned that the bells were being moved to a new home. (pic ref B2662/6)

Bolton Evening News 13th September 1995

Bolton Evening News 13th September 1995

Ringing in the new

A NEWLY trained team of bellringers are now ringing the bells at Belmont Parish Church, thus keeping alive an old village tradition of bell ringing every Sunday.

The church has six bells, which were cast towards the end of the last century by Hick Hargreaves of Bolton, as an experiment using cast steel unlike the usual bronze alloy widely used in bell making.

The experiment was not successful and over the years the bells have begun to corrode and have lost their true tones. The Parish of St Peter's has now embarked on a project to restore the bells to a reasonable condition by the year 2001, which will be the 150th anniversary of the parish.

Anyone who would like to support the restoration can contact Reverend Humphries at The Vicarage, Belmont.

Bolton Evening News 4th December 1995

Bolton Evening News 4th December 1995

AS you will know, Westhoughton Parish Church has recently been rebuilt following the massive fire, This photograph, though, is of the original church and its bells, and has been sent to me by Mrs Alice Taule, of Metcalf's Yard, Blackrod. She writes "The photograph belongs to Mrs Miriam Seddon, who used to be headmistress at the Parochial School, Westhoughton. She can't remember the year it was taken, so we wonder if some reader has any further information?" If so, please let me know.

Bolton Evening News 11th October 1997

Bolton Evening News 11th October 1997

Ringing the changes!

The splendidly English story of Midge Mather's violent attack on bell ropes in a Wiltshire village has helped to stimulate interest in the ancient art of bell-ringing.

Publicity surrounding the 65-year-old pensioner's outbreak of clapper rage is, ironically, helping a national recruiting campaign.

The sound of the church bells might have driven Midge to fury, but it is music to the ears of dedicated ringers in Bolton and elsewhere.

At noon on January 1, 2000 church bells are set to ring out across the whole country to celebrate the Millennium.

The Central Council of Church Bell Ringers has started a recruitment and training campaign aimed at making sure there will be enough people available for this mammoth undertaking.

And Ernie Runciman, the Liverpool-based public relations officer for the Lancashire Association of Change Ringers, is delighted by the national publicity generated when Midge Mather smashed the church door in Compton Bassett and hacked through six bell ropes.

After being given a two-year conditional discharge for causing criminal damage she announced that she intended to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

But Ernie told me: "She has helped our cause.

"More people are getting interested."

Mr Runciman, a telecommunications engineer who is also Deputy Tower Captain at Liverpool Cathedral, is responsible for an area that covers Liverpool and Merseyside, Manchester, Wigan, Preston, Lancaster, South Lakeland, Bolton, Blackburn and the Isle of Man.

"We need 200 to 300 extra ringers," he said during a visit to Bolton Parish Church.

The Bolton branch of the Association, which stretches from Culcheth to Horwich, is responsible for 18 churches and needs to recruit 40 to 50 more ringers.

We want to get over the fact that it is not a load of old men in a tower pulling on ropes," Mr Runciman said.

We have a complete age range from teenagers to pensioners.

The youngest in the Lancashire Association is 10 and the oldest is 72."

He added: "As long as they can count to six and get up the tower we will teach them.

"It is a very sociable activity."

The secretary of the Bolton branch is Mr David McCormick, aged 51, who has been a bellringer for 20 years and is Tower Captain at St Mary's, Deane, Bolton.

"It is an exciting hobby," he said.

"People can become proficient and competent in six to eight weeks."

Bolton Evening News 11th October 1997 (continued)

Bolton Parish Church has 12 bells available for ringing and most Sundays there are 10 ringers. Stephen Mort, aged 48, and his wife Linda are enthusiastic members of the bell-ringing team and Stephen is also treasurer of the Bell Rope Fund - a money-raising job which is ongoing.

"In five to 10 years they are going to wear out," he said.

Linda, who has been a member of the church since she was 14, has been involved since son Neil did his bell-ringing badge in the scouts.

The heaviest bell in the Parish Church "Ring of Bells" is 19 cwt and the lightest is about three cwt.

During my cautious ascent to the Parish Church belfry and ringing room I established that national noise complaints from such people as the aforementioned Midge Mather are few and far between.

There are apparently no serious problems in Bolton.

"If people do have valid complaints about bells we will go out of our way to co-operate with them," Mr Runciman said.

"We did have a complaint in Rainhill though - people said they could not hear them properly."

Information for readers:
Anybody interested in learning to ring the bells at a Bolton area church is asked to contact David McCormick on 654503.

He will put callers in touch with the relevant people.

Bolton Parish Church Bell Ringers are organising a fund-raising day on Saturday, November 1.

There will be an Autumn Fayre from 11am to 2pm in the church hall and the tower will be open to visitors at 11.15am, 12.15pm and 1.15pm.

Adults wishing to climb the 192 steps to the top of the tower will be charged £1. (Concessions, 75 pence).

Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult for safety reasons.

In the evening there will be a concert by the Gnosall Handbell Ringers, starting at 7.45pm.

The Tower Bells will be available for general ringing from 6.45pm until 7.30pm.

Details are availablefrom Stephen Mort on 01204 388637.

Bolton Evening News 31th December 1999

Bolton Evening News 31st December 1999

Ringing in the New Year!

FOR hundreds of years bells have rung out across Bolton marking important events and playing a unique part in the town's history.

And at midnight tonight - New Year's Eve - the bells of Bolton Parish Church, stirred into action by their team of dedicated ringers, will play a central role in the Millennium celebrations.

This year their sweet and ancient sound will mark the passing of one Millennium and herald the dawn of a new one as their noise floats out into the night sky above the partying town centre revellers.

But spare a thought for the people who will give up their own party celebrations to climb the 52 narrow twisting steps in the church tower to the ringing room.

People who have never taken one of the regular organised tours of the tower would imagine a dusty, chilly and dark place, reminiscent of all those old films about the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

But Bolton's room, which was formerly a small museum, is well lit, cosy and warm - and not a bat or cobweb in sight!

Most Sunday mornings, teams of eight to 10 people can be found there, ringing the bells to summon worshippers to services.

They would always like more people to join them but, according to keen bell ringer and church hall caretaker Stephen Mort other pressures of the modern world mean bell ringing is not as popular as it should be.

"People are more interested in television and playstations," he said.

Although some churches around the country struggle to find people to ring their bells and they lie idle for much of the time, Bolton's bell ringers are "holding their own".

Indeed one of their most enthusiastic members is Stephen's 13-year-old son, Alan.

Bell ringing is a close knit community, with people regularly travelling to neighbouring churches , or even ones nearby on holiday to try out their different bells.

Bolton Parish Church is a member of the Lancashire Association of Change Ringers and according to tower captain, Alan Forrester, the hobby attracts people from all walks of life and all different personalities.

"We all have a common bond of love of bell ringing", he said.

There are no special requirements needed to become a good bell ringer.

"But a lack of inhibition helps," laughs Alan.

Even though the church's heaviest bell weighs just under a ton it does not take much effort to ring it once the technique is learned.

Bell ringing has its own peculier language, full of strange sounding words to describe the bells and way they are rung.

Practice night at the church is Friday and the "changes" are learned by following a squiggly line overlaid across columns of numbers which tell the ringer in which order they should pull their bell rope. The idea is that each bell should sound individually in rapid and even succession. There are even competitions to test the skill of the teams of bell ringers.

In full flow the vibrations from the bells make the tower sway, but the Bolton bell ringers proudly mention that other towers move far more than ours.

Like others across the country Bolton bells will be heard at noon on New Year's Day as well as at midnight.

A few minutes before the arrival of the New Millennium Bolton Parish Church will begin sounding its bells, then they will gradually die away one by one, leaving silence in the seconds before midnight.

The clock bell usually automatically strikes the hour but on this occasion it will be turned off and instead a bell ringer will sound the heavy tenor bell 12 times to welcome in the year 2000.

Then the bells will chime again for another few minutes before the ringers head off back to their families and friends to join the celebrations.

Mature bells ..!

Bells at Bolton Parish Church are older than the building itself.

While the church dates only from 1871, there is a tenor bell hung in the tower which is exactly 300 years old, being cast in 1699 by Henry Bagley.

It is now electrically operated and rung only on Thursdays, but remains alongside the other 13 bells in the tower, all of which were rehung in 1974.

Bells at the church have played an important part in the life of the town over the centuries.

As well as summoning the congregation to prayer, a bell in the tower used to be rung daily to signal that the nearby passenger boat on the Bolton and Bury Canal was about to leave.

Nowadays the Bolton bells are only sounded for services, special occasions and the occasional wedding.

The heaviest "back eight" of the bells originally hung in the church of "The Saviour" Deane, which was demolished in the early seventies.

And the lightest seven of Bolton Parish Church's previous bells were recast to provide a new "front five" of the ring.

The church is now referred to as having a 12 bell tower although 13 ropes hang in the ringing room.

The extra bell is a "sharp second" which allows ringers to choose between ringing a true octave on the lighter front bells or the heavy back bells.

Bolton bell ringers regard themselves as fortunate for having so many bells. Most churches only have six or eight bells in their tower.

Until 1974 the bells in the church tower were placed 30 ft higher than now, directly behind the louvered windows near the top of the tower.

But in the 1970s it was discovered that the wooden rack from which several tons of bells hung was moving more than was desirable and the bells were rehung lower down the tower, with their 50ft long ropes now operated from lower down the tower in a room which was once used as a small museum.

The church took the opportunity of the repositioning, plus the structural work needed on the 180ft high tower, to increase the number of bells from its previous eight. Tower captain Alan Forrester was pleased with the result.

The church now has a quality set of evenly matched bells producing its own distinctive sweet sound, "Ours are now very easy to ring," he said.

  Bolton Evening News 31st December 1999 (continued)

Caretaker Alan began his historic role as a boy, aged 13

BOLTON Parish Church tower captain Alan Forrester is as much a part of the history of the bell tower as the bells themselves.

The 59-year-old caretaker at St Peter's School, Smithills Dean has been ringing the bells even before the current set were installed in the tower.

Alan was a 13-year-old schoolboy when he first ventured into the bell tower, having become interested in the subject through the church youth club.

By the age of 21 he was tower captain, in charge of the bells and the ringers and can be found there most Fridays for practice nights between 7pm and 9pm and on Sundays.

But despite his years of experience Alan always finds something new to interest him.

"You never stop learning at Bell ringing," he said.

"The number of changes is infinitely variable."

Alan is so dedicated to the hobby that his daughter and two sons are now also regular bell ringers at other churches and his wife Sheila, has learned to be very understanding.

And this New Year's Eve has called for extra tolerance.

"She would like to go out somewhere but on the other hand this is something she accepts," said a grateful Alan.

You could even say Alan is now part of the fabric of the parish church as when the bells were recast in 1974 his name was inscribed on the fourth bell.

"I don't often think about it," said Alan modestly.

I think my mother thinks about it more than I do," he said.

An Alan plans to remain in regular touch with his bells for many years to come.

"It all depends on my legs," he said.

"I will be here as long as I can climb the stairs. Even then I think I will find another tower instead with fewer steps."

Ringing in the changes

BOLTON Parish Church will not be alone ringing in the New Year this year.

The other 10 churches in the Bolton branch of the Lancashire Association of Change Ringers hope to be joining them.

The churches locally where bells will be rung are:

  • All Souls, Astley Bridge
  • St John's, Farnworth
  • St Paul's, Walkden
  • St Peter's, Halliwell
  • Holy Trinity, Horwich
  • St Mary's, Deane
  • St Bartholomew's, Westhoughton
  • St Catherine's, Blackrod
  • St Mary's, Leigh
  • New Church, Culcheth
Bolton Evening News 15th September 2000

Bolton Evening News 15th September 2000

Bells ring out fond farewell to team rector

WESTHOUGHTON parishioners have been ringing the changes to pay tribute to the departing Rev Simon Tatton Brown.

The Westhoughton Team Rector leaves the town after12 years, and held his final service last Sunday.

To mark the event, Westhoughton Parish Church's eight bell ringers teamed together for almost a three hour tribute ... that could be heard throughout the town.

The bellringers rang 5,088 changes of Yorkshire Surprise Major for two hours 53 minutes.

The mammoth effort was made by James Andrews, Geoffrey Fothergill, John Shallcross, Barbara Shallcross, Val Glen, Kelly Barnes, Geoffrey Smith and Lindsay Smith.

Rev Tatton-Brown moves to Chippenham next month.

During his 12 years in Westhoughton he has overseen major projects in the town.

The parish church has been rebuilt, there is a new parish school, and an extension has been added to it.

In addition there has been a pastoral reorganisation.

Bolton News 19th March 2008

Bolton News 19th March 2008

For whom the bells toll

Church tries to revive the art of bell ringing

A CHURCH is appealing for people to learn the ropes as bell ringers.

St. Katherine's Church in Blackrod once had a thriving group of ringers, but numbers have declined over the years.

On Saturday an open day was held in a bid to revive the group.

John Howard, aged 56, will be teaching people the skills of bell ringing.

He took up the hobby in 1983 and has been hooked ever since.

Mr Howard, of Station Road, who works as a machinist for Farnworth-based S C Cabinets, said: "I got involved because I liked to listen to the sound of the bells.

"We used to have a practise here every Tuesday but that has not happened for many years because of a lack of attendance but we hope that can be resumed.

"We have two ringers from Horwich Holy Trinity Church who come over on a Sunday so we can ring the bells.

"It is a good social activity and is good physical exercise for anyone who wants to come along and join in."

There are currently only two bell ringers at St Katherine's - Mr Howard and Dean Collinson, aged 17.

Dean started bell ringing when he was 11 and finds the hobby very rewarding.

The trainee painter and decorator said: "My uncle was involved with bell ringing and I had been up the tower to watch a few times before I started learning.

"I really enjoy it and I go to different churches each night to practise. I just think it is brilliant.

"There quite a few teenagers involved at other churches - it is not just something for older people to do."

Microbiologist Elaine Forester, aged 36, of The Cheethams, Blackrod, went to the open day to see how it is done.

She said: "It is a lot harder than you think. The weight of the bells lifted my feet off the floor a bit and it was quite scary.

"That hasn't put me off too much though, I think I will come back."

Amanda learns the ropes

If you thought bell ringing was as simple as pulling a bit of rope, think again.

Making the bells chime requires skill and plenty of concentration, as I found out when I went to the open day.

Climbing up the steep spiral stairs to the bell tower was difficult enough, but I later found out that was the easy part.

Holding the rope in the correct position, letting go at the right time and catching it again required good co-ordination.

One wrong move, and I could have been up in the rafters.

Fortunately, John Howard was guiding me and helping me to catch the rope to make sure that didn't happen.

For a first timer, the bells are quite scary and very heavy. The tenor, one of the heavier bells at Blackrod, weighs 507 kg - about half-a-ton.

But once the skill of making the bell chime is mastered, which I would imagine could take a few months, it gets more complicated.

There are usually between four and six ringers in the tower, each operating a different bell.

A session starts with each ringer quickly pulling their rope one after the other to create the tune.

The leader then calls out different numbers, to change the sequence of the bells, so not only are you thinking about where your hands are in relation to the rope, but also about the timing.

I quite enjoyed it, even though I was petrified I was going to end up in the roof.

Bolton News 29th October 2009

Bolton News 29th October 2009

Our bell ringer deserves a gong!

Now Alan wants to pass on 50 years of experience to new enthusiasts

COULD this be Bolton's most experienced bell ringer?

Alan Forrester has been ringing the changes at Bolton Parish Church every Sunday for more than 50 years - and now church leaders say he deserves recognition for his endeavours.

The art of bell ringing, or campanology, is a uniquely English activity which takes dedication to understand and master, and ecclesiastical bosses say Mr Forrester must be the best in the borough.

Mr Forrester, aged 69, of Markland Hill Lane, Heaton, said his long service is simply due to his love for bell ringing.

He said: "I just enjoy it. Like a lot of people I enjoy the sound of bells. Once you understand it, it's fascinating.

"It's one of those things - as soon as you've learned how to handle a bell, you start learning how to ring it."

Mr Forrester also enjoys the social side of bell ringing, having made many good friends during his time in the tower.

He said: "You get good company because there's quite a mix of different people who do it and there's always good comradeship between ringers."

Mr Forrester started ringing when he was a teenage member of the church's youth club in the 1950s.

One of the club leaders asked if anyone wanted to give it a try, and once he started, he was hooked.

Now church leaders say Mr Forrester deserves a medal for his dedication to the bells.

He said: "I don't look for things like that. I'm quite satisfied for people to learn how to do it and to offer to keep it going.

"Both my sons can ring, and my granddaughter as well. I taught them all how to do it, so in a funny sort of way it's a family thing."

Mr Forrester said his biggest challenge now is to recruit new members in the face of dwindling numbers. There are 12 bells at Bolton Parish Church, but often there are only enough people to ring six to eight of them.

Anyone interested in taking up campanology should call the church office on 01204 522226.

Lay minister David Bevis said: "What Alan doesn't know about bell ringing isn't worth knowing.

"The town benefits from his ringing because there's something very lovely about the sound of church bells.

"To give his time and energy over 50-odd years is quite something and I think the town should know more about Alan and his work."

The Rev Matt Thompson, vicar of Bolton Parish Church, said: "Alan's bell ringing is hugely important to us and we would miss the bells without the dedication of people like him."

Ringing the changes

  • Church bells are housed in the bell chamber, while the ringers take their places in the ringing room below.
  • Each ringer takes hold of one rope controlling one bell. Bolton Parish Church has 12 bells which means 12 people would be needed to ring all the bells.
  • Each bell is tuned, and given a number (in Bolton Parish Church's case from 1 to 12). Number 1 is the smallest bell with the highest pitch, called the treble. The largest bell is called the tenor.
  • Traditional English bell ringing differs from the majority of other countries' practices. In most countries, bells are hung straight down, and they are sounded by a simple strike with the clapper. English bells, however, usually rest in an upright position, attached to a wheel, and they turn almost 360 degrees when the rope is pulled to ring them.
  • The English system gives ringers a greater degree of control over the bells, allowing them to ring a set of church bells in organised melodic patterns, called changes. A single change consists of a team of ringers ringing all the bells once.
  • The simplest pattern is a round, ringing each bell in descending pitch order.
  • A series of changes is called a method. There are strict rules governing how changes in a method can progress, and there are many different possible combinations. Methods (recognisable by their different "tunes") have names such as Plain Bob, Grandsire and Cambridge.
  • The bell ringing captain instructs the ringers which method to ring by calling out its name.
  • A peal consists of more than 5,000 changes and usuall takes about three hours to ring.
Bolton News 25th February 2012

Bolton News 25th February 2012

A marathon bells tribute for the Queen

A full three-hour peal of the bells will be rung at Bolton Parish Church to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee this weekend.

The Grandsire Caters will be rung by 10 campanologists from across the North West from midday on Sunday ahead of a special service commemorating the Queen's 60-year reign.

The Lancashire Association of Change Ringers will use a nine bell method to sound the peal.

Bolton Parish Church tower captain Alan Forrester said: "It will be continuous ringing for three hours. It is a feat of endurance and not a regular event in Bolton.

"It is something to look forward to. We've not had one at Bolton Parish Church for a while."

Local bell ringers will again sound the bells from 3pm before the service starts at 3.30pm. The seven decades of Queen Elizabeth II's reign will be marked at the Diamond Jubilee service, which will be the first in the region.

Each decade in which the Queen has ruled will be commemorated.

During the service one person or a group of people will step forward to present a small token representing something unique to Bolton from each decade.

Cllr John Walsh, who has helped put the service together, said: "The church will be full with the people from Bolton showing their love and affection for the Queen.

"It will be a wonderful way to celebrate her service over the past 60 years."

Seating is limited and people are asked to arrive from 3pm for a 3.30pm start.

Bolton News 23rd June 2013

Bolton News 23rd June 2013

Church rings out for help ...

A CHURCH has launched an appeal to raise £50,000 to repair its historic bells - which are more than 230 years old.

St Katherine's Church, in Blackrod, has already raised £10,000 through donations and a legacy left by former bell ringer John Howard, who died in 2010, but the church still needs another £40,000.

The appeal comes as the church completes work to repair its bell tower, which was damaged by lightning last August.

The pinnacle and parapet were disturbed in the strike and emergency scaffolding had to be erected to make it safe.

The repair work is now being completed by Mather and Ellis, and is being paid for by the church's insurance company.

While the work was being carried out, however, church bosses realised that urgent repair work was needed on the historic bells.

It is 90 years since the bells were rehung with new framework and fittings - in their current state one of the bells cannot be rung.

Church treasurer Jean Hibbert said: "The bell tower can be seen for many miles in any direction and is a milestone for local people returning home down the M61.

"We have six bells which were cast in the William Mears Foundry in London around 1786, before the days when much was understood about the harmony of church bells and the importance of arranging them correctly."

She said all six bells need to be cleaned, while the ringing fittings need a complete overhaul and the bell frame needs to be rebuilt.

The bells, clappers, framesides and fittings will need to go to the foundry for sandblasting, and the bells checked for cracks.

When the work is finished, by Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London, the bells will be rehung and tuned in the tower.

Mike Kay, who has been ringing St Katherine's bells for more than 30 years, since he was 11, said fixing the bells was very important for Blackrod.

"We want to carry on the ytradition and keep this going in Blackrod. I really hope we can raise the money and get them fixed," he said.

Mr Kay, aged 41, rings the bells on Sundays and at weddings, alongside 21-year-old Dean Collinson, and 41-year-old Elaine Forrester.

The trio, from Blackrod, are helped by bell ringers from Horwich, as one ringer is needed for each of the six bells.

Bolton News 16th July 2015

Bolton News 16th July 2015

Enjoying a hobby takes its toll!

THIS happy band of people have a hobby in common - that of ringing or campanology as it is known.

This photograph was taken in May 1988 and features church bell ringers who had awakened a slumbering giant in Bolton.

The eight bell "round" at All Souls in Astley Bridge was the second jheaviest in Lancashire and weighed in at around five tonnes.

But it has rarely been sounded since the builing was closed in March of the previous year.

Members of the Lancashire Association of Church Bell Ringers soon put that right when they converged on Bolton for their annual meeting.

Their one-hour ringing session at All Souls Church was just one of a number that took place at churches throughout the town.

It must have been a fascinating event and no doubt was of great interest to local people who enjoyed this hoppy.

But is bell ringing still as popular today? If so get in touch with Gayle McBain on 01204 537269 or email  

Bolton News 13th August 2015

Bolton News 13th August 2015

Public a-peal sees bells fully restored!

Six bells which have spent several months being restored are set to be returned to St Katherine's Church in Blackrod this month.

The bells, which were originally cast by William Mears of Whitechapel in 1783, have spent several months being brought back to their former glory by Loughborough company John Taylor and Co.

Before that they were last restored by the same company nearly 100 years ago - and parishioners are now looking forward to hearing the bells ring over Blackrod once more.

The Rev Heather Sharp said: "It is fascinating to actually see the bells and appreciate their size and solidarity - the largest of which apparently weighs the equivalent of an old Mini Cooper. To see those massive bells being slowly lowered on chains through narrow hatches cut especially in the tower ceiling was an amazing sight.

"Having been repaired the process must now take place in reverse - building up the steel framework on which the bells are to be hung and then laboriously hauling them back up into place where it is to be hoped they will remain without further need for repair for many a long year.

An appeal helped raise funds to pay for the restoration of the bells.

Members of the public also gave their time and skill, saving £7,000 in labour costs.

Bolton News 5th October 2015

Bolton News 5th October 2015

Celebration as bells chime again

CAMPANOLOGY is a very popular sport and was enjoyed by these members of St Peter's Church in Halliwell in 1980 to mark a very special event.

It seems these bell-ringers were ringing in the changes as the eight bells of the church were set to work again at the end of 15 months of restoration work which cost £ 11,000.

THe re-dedication was conducted by the Area Dean Canon Colin Craston (right centre) and enjoying the event were the Vicar, Rev Roger Oldfield and members of the Lancashire Association of Change Ringers. A total of £8,000 had already been raised, by June 1980, to pay for the work with the remainder still needed to balance the books.

Do you know of any local bell-ringing organisations with a long history in Bolton?

Or perhaps you know of other clubs that go back many years in the town.

We would love to feature them in Looking Back. If so do get in touch with Gayle McBain on 01204 537269 or email and we will feature them in a future edition of the paper.

Bolton News 18th December 2017

Bolton News 18th December 2017

Ringing out the changes

FARNWORTH Parish Church bells were not heard for four months during 1954, because they were being completely re-cast and modernised. The picture, taken in January of that year, shows the seventh bell, the last to be removed, being lowered to ground level.  

Bolton News 27th January 2018

Bolton News 27th January 2018

Enjoy a bell-ting day out at parish church

Regional bell ringing competition in town centre

EARS will be ringing today as a bell striking competition takes place.

Bolton Parish Church's belfry will be alive with sound throughout the day as bell ringers from across the North West compete to be crowned champion strikers.

Cllr John Walsh, warden at the church, said: "Hopefully we're going to have some high quality bell ringing heard across the town."

Around six or seven teams are expected to compete, judged by an adjudicator who has travelled from Birmingham.

The North West 12 Bell Striking Competition will start at 11am and each of the 12-strong teams have half an hour to perform.

Every team will perform the tune Plain Bob Maximus.

Previous competitions have taken place at Liverpool Cathedral and Chester Cathedral.

Cllr Walsh said they were 'delighted' to be able to host this year's event.

He said: "We're delighted they're here this year. Bolton Parish Church is well known for having a very good tower with 12 bells."

Cllr Walsh said the competition will be keeping the teams on their feet with refreshments and he encouraged the public to visit during the competition to hear the sonorous music in the church and its grounds.

He said: "The public are very welcome to come round and hear the bells and look round the church at the same time and there will be refreshments."


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