LACR Bolton Branch


There is an article in the Bolton Evening News dated Saturday, 4th March 1876 which shows that Bolton churches had their own Societies before merging into the LACR.

Change Ringing
Six members of the Society of Change Ringers of Holy Trinity Church, Bolton, rang on the bells of this church, on Thursday evening, seven different peals of grandsire minor in succession in two hours and fifty minutes. The ringers were placed as follow:- Mr. Henry W. Jackson, treble; Mr. Henry Bentley, 2; Mr. Joseph Thornton, 3; Mr. James W. Jackson, 4; Mr. Samuel Gaskell, 5; Mr. William Hamer, tenor.

The ringer of the treble, Henry W. Jackson, was instrumental in the future of bellringing in Bolton. As was Henry Bentley who was elected to the committee at inauguration.


Lancashire Association of Change Ringers (LACR)

The Lancashire Association of Change Ringers was established in 1876 and at its first meeting on 10th June 1876, in the National School-room at Chorley, the Officers and Committee were elected. The Committee included Mr Henry Bentley from Bolton. The Association was re-constituted in 1879.

The Treasurer from 1881 to 1925 was Henry W. Jackson of Bolton. Joel Redford of Bolton took over as Ringing Secretary in 1882 from Thomas E. Turner (1880-1882) of Bolton and in 1887 Joel took over the post of Corresponding Secretary. In 1893 his title changed to "Corresponding and Financial Secretary" and he also had an Assistant Secretary. Following Joel was A. Edward Wreaks of Bolton (later of Manchester) who was General Secretary from 1898 to 1911. All three served at least part of their time under the President (1890-1936) Rev. H. J. Elsee, M.A., St. George's Vicarage, Bolton.

Albert E. Sandiford (1948-1955), Peter Crook snr. (1955-1961) and John F. Wood (1961-1984) all from Bolton held the post of Treasurer

The first Annual Dinner was held by the Association at the Red Cross Inn on Bradshawgate, Bolton early in February 1879 and four weeks later on 28th February, the Annual General Meeting was also held in Bolton. Other AGMs held in Bolton were 29th October 1881, 28th October 1882, 13th October 1883, 2nd October 1886, 13th October 1888, 29th September 1894, 24th September 1898, 26th September 1903, 26th September 1914, 25th September 1926, 25th September 1937, 28th September 1940 and 25th September 1943. A decision was taken to rotate between the Branches and Bolton Branch did not host the AGM again until 30th April 1955 then 30th April 1966. Of course, AGMs have been hosted by Bolton Branch since then but the list shows how important Bolton has been in the history of the Association.


The Bolton Evening News of 12th June 1876 records the first meeting of the Association

Bolton Evening News Clip

On Saturday, the first meeting in connection with the above (which was inaugurated by Messrs. Pritchard, Mann, and Aspinwall, of Liverpool), was held in the Nation Schoolroom, Chorley, Mr. W.G. Wray, of Kirkham, presiding, when about 30 persons, representing different societies, assembled to pass rules and elect officers for the ensuing year. The following were elected:- President, Mr. W.G. Wray, Kirkham; vice-presidents, Mr. W. Bowling, Leyland; Mr. W. Mawdesley, Blackburn; Mr. J. Aspinwall, Liverpool; and Mr. E. Yates, Swinton. Committee: Messrs. J. Harper, Horwich; W. Heald, Chorley; J. Rothwell, Pendlebury; R. Ormerod, Blackburn; H. Bentley, Bolton; John Mason, Southport; W.G. Mann, Liverpool. Secretary, Mr. John B. Pritchard, Liverpool; treasurer, Mr. George Higson, Blackrod.


Another snippet from The Bolton Evening News, dated 3rd February 1879, reports on the FIRST LACR Annual Dinner which was held in Bolton. The Red Cross Inn was on Bradshawgate, opposite Nelson Square.

On Saturday evening the first annual dinner of the Lancashire Association of Change Ringers was held at the Red Cross Inn, when about seventy members sat down to an excellent repast. The Rev. Canon Powell afterwards presided, and was supported by the Rev. John Henn(?), B.A., of St. John's, Manchester; and the Rev. B. Winfield, B.A., of Holy Trinity, each of whom delivered encouraging addresses. Mr. John Mason, of Southport, was appointed president, the Rev. Canon Powell, J. Henn and B. Winfield were appointed vice-presidents; Messrs. H.W. Jackson, Holy Trinity, Bolton; J. Gough, Garmian; John Aspinwall, Liverpool; and J. Albinson, Stockport, were elected as a committee; Mr. J. Scott, Holy Trinity, Stratford-road, Manchester, was elected treasurer; and Mr. James B. Rodgers, St. Philip's, Manchester, was appointed secretary. A very pleasant meeting was held, and at the conclusion the bells of the Parish Church, Holy Trinity, and Deane and Farnworth Parish Churches were rung.


Another article from The Bolton Evening News of Monday, 30th October 1882 shows that Bolton was still at the forefront of the LACR.

The annual meeting of this association took place on Saturday evening in Holy Trinity Schoolrooms, Bolton, and was largely attended by ringers from all parts of the country. The objects of the society are most laudable and include the cultivation of the science of change ringing and the elevation of the moral and religious tone and status of the ringers. The list of honorary members includes a large number of clergymen and the performing members are from Bolton, Aughton, Blackrod, Bradbury, Church, Deane, Eccles, Garston, Grassendale, Heywood, Huyton, Leigh, Leyland, Liverpool, Manchester, Newchurch, Padiham, Pendlebury, Ramsbottom, Rusholme, Southport, Stockport, Swinton, Walton, Walkden, Westhoughton, Whitefield, Widnes and Worsley. The proceedings commenced with service in the church, when the Rev. H.R. Heywood, vicar of Swinton, delivered a practical discourse on the ringer's office, from the society's book of rules: "The bells and ringers are intended to be exercised for God's glory and worship." His remarks were much appreciated. Tea was served in the schoolroom, to which about 130 sat down, and the business meeting was held immediately afterwards, under the presidency of the vicar, the Rev. C. Lowe, M.A. Letters regretting unavoidable absence were read from the Rev. K. Jacques, M.A., Westhoughton; Canon Powell, M.A., vicar of Bolton; the Rev. D. Winfield, B.A., Hulme; Canon Sheldon, M.A., Ormskirk; Archdeacon Ans(?) and Canon Birley, M.A., Hulme. The chairman welcomed the ringers once more to Holy Trinity, and was glad to find the society had increased its numbers to 150 during the year, 54 members having joined in that period. The report was read by the secretary, Mr. W.J. Chatterton, Moss Side, in which attention was called to a number of matters connected with the society. The balance in the bank was £3 13s. 6½d., against £3 2s. 10d. last year. The retiring treasurer, Mr. H.W. Jackson, Bolton, was re-elected, and Mr. J. Radford, Bolton, was re-elected co-secretary. The three retiring members from the committee were - Messrs. Aspinwall, Liverpool; Curtis, Bolton; and Albinson, Garston. Messrs. Curtis, Hughes (Garston), and Aspinwall were elected. The names of 21 new members were then submitted and accepted; these included ringers from Walkden and All Souls' Church, Bolton, and the Revs. C. Heath, M.A., W. Popplewell, M.A., and R. Loxham. A discussion ensued as to whether a coloured emblem or certificate of proficiency should be instituted, and also as to the terms upon which it should be granted. Some ringers thought it should be given to all who had rung a 5,040 peal or a date-touch, while others considered no regulation should be decided upon, which would oppress members of belfries where there were only six bells. Ultimately, Messrs. Yates and Albinson were appointed to consider the matter with the committee at their next meeting. A vote of thanks to the preacher of the afternoon was proposed by the Rev. A. Turner, B.A., Burnley, seconded by Mr. Bracall, and a similar compliment to the Chairman was passed, on the motion of Mr. Scott, seconded by Mr. Higson. The Rev. J. Lewis, Mr. John Greenhalgh, and Mr. Nathaniel Greenhalgh were among those present.


Bolton Branch

The history of the Bolton Branch is still being researched but its roots were with the Manchester Branch. At the Annual Meeting held on 28th September 1895 at the Parish Church, Wigan, it was announced that "A new branch had been formed for Bolton and district, by a division of the Manchester branch, which the Committee were confident would be to the advantage of the Association." The report in "Church Bells" dated 19th October 1895 does not mention when the formation of the new Branch took place.

A date touch of Grandsire Triples rung at St George's church in Bolton on Friday 13th September "was the first touch of any kind in the Bolton branch of the Lancashire Association." as reported in 'Bell News' Volume 14 Page 262.

The first peal in the new Branch was Grandsire Triples rung at St George's by the home band on Monday December 16th 1895

First Peal of Bolton Branch

In the meantime, see what is available at Bolton Museum or the easier version on this site.


Another article from The Bolton Evening News of 26th September 1898 shows that the officers of the LACR often came from Bolton

The Lancashire Association of Change Ringers held their annual meeting at Bolton on Saturday, and in view of a tablet being unveiled to the memory of the late Mr. Joel Redford, of this town, who was general secretary for 16 years, there was an unusually large attendance of members. The visit was heralded by ringing at the Parish Church, Holy Trinity, St. George's, All Souls', The Saviour's, Deane Church and St. Peter's, Smithills. Later in the afternoon a service was held at Holy Trinity Church, followed by a meeting in the schools in the evening. The shortened evensong in the church was numerously attended. The Vicar (the Rev. T. Taylor-Evans, B.A.) was the preacher, and the Revs. H.J. Elsee, M.A. (vicar of St. George's and President of the Association), H.F. Lloyd (vicar of St. Michael's and All Angels, Wigan), and A.W. Baxter, M.A., also took part in the service. Preaching from Peter i, 10 and 11, the Vicar urged the importance of diligence in spiritual as well as in secular life, and paid a tribute to the bell ringers for their devoted labours. Of all Christian workers he knew of none to whom belonged a greater privilege than that which attached to the bellringers of God's Church.

The Message of the Bells was to tell the Master's people that He desired their presence at His house to worship Him as their Lord and God. It was true that at times the bells told of other scenes and messages. A peculiarity of the bellringers' work was that while other workers for God were seen and their names and labours trumpeted abroad and emblazoned on the scrolls of God's beautiful Church, the bellringer rang out his message unseen and unknown. In woe and sadness, in pleasure and gladness, now softly stealing, now loudly pealing, the bells had a message for all. That day they were peculiarly called together, because they were remembering one of their number who had gone to his rest, but who for many years rang out his Master's message and came at the call himself to worship his God. The late Mr. Redford was held in the highest esteem and set them all a splendid example. -The service over, the Rev. H.J. Elsee unveiled a beautiful marble tablet in the porch of the church to the memory of Mr. Redford, and spoke of the untiring interest in the work of the Association which their late brother displayed. On behalf of the church, the clergy and officers, the memorial was formally accepted by the vicar, and Mr. H. De Ball, one of the wardens. The tablet bears the following inscription: "To the glory of God. This tablet is erected by the Lancashire Association of Change Ringers in affectionate remembrance of Joel Redford, a ringer in this tower, who for sixteen years gave faithful service as secretary of the association. He entered into rest on February 13th, 1898, aged 38 years, and his body lies in the churchyard of St. James's, Breightmet."

Tea was afterwards partaken of, and subsequently the Business Meeting took place, presided over by the Rev H.J. Elsee, who was supported by the hon. secretaries, Messrs. A.E. Wreaks and J. Wilson, and Mr. H.W. Jackson, all of Bolton. The Chairman explained that it was originally intended to hold the meeting at Preston, but on account of the unveiling ceremony it was wisely arranged that the gathering should take place at Bolton. Proceeding, he said Bolton was a good centre, and added that the town fortunately possessed seven peals of eight bells. During the year there had been considerable progress, and the record of 81 peals had been scored. Bearing on this he wished to offer a few words of advice partly suggested through his having come in possession of a tower himself. He desired them all to be enthusiastic in the cause, and at the same time to have consideration for the feelings of people living in the immediate neighbourhood of churches. They must remember that near many town churches there are numerous shops, and it was a real trial to shopkeepers if the bells were going for three hours at a stretch. Then there might also be cases of sickness, so that he wished the ringers to shift about for practices, etc., and not regularly fix upon the same towers.

Injury had been done to the popularity of bellringing in England by too frequent pealing in certain counties. There was another point - the clashing of bells when a company were practising new methods. This was often trying to people who were forced listeners outside. As one as deeply interested in bells as anybody present, he did not like this striking, and to prevent it he urged the use of handbells until the method had been acquired. - A report was prescribed showing the membership to be 916, 116 having been elected during the year. The financial statement revealed a deficiency of £19 on the year's working. - The Rev. H.S. Elsee was re-elected president, and the following appointments were also made:- General secretary, Mr. A.K. Wreaks; ringing secretary, Mr. J. Shepherd, Bacup; assistant secretary, Mr. J. Wilson; and treasurer, Mr. H.W. Jackson. It was decided to hold the next annual meeting at Preston. Thanks were tendered to the Vicar of Holy Trinity, the authorities who had allowed the visitors to ring in the towers, the Memorial Committee, and the president and officers, one speaker describing the Rev. H.J. Elsee as an accomplished ringer well-known in the bell world. After the meeting, peals were rung at several churches.


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