Chapter 2 - Officers, Library, Peals, Peal Ringers

The Officers & The Library

As will be apparent from the previous Chapter, over the period 1893- 1972, the Association had only five General Secretaries : Canon Downing, Rev D H Griffiths, John W Jones, Fred Hannington and Jack Pryor, of whom JWJ served for 46 years and Fred Hannington for 17. Since 1972 the period of office has been much shorter, capped by the "6-year" rule introduced in ****.

Members who have served as General Secretary since 1972 are: Peter Bennett (1972-76), Ian Holland (1976-79), Nigel Orchard (1979-83), Judith Frye (1983-84), Christine Lucas (1984-90), Catherine Hayman (1990-93), John Vesey (1994-99), Suzanne Cochrane (1999-2000), Beryl Baldwin (2000-01), Dr Michael Penney (2001-2007 and 2010-) and Val Deisler (2007-2010). Unfortunately Suzanne had to resign after only 6 months due to her partner’s unforseen job move to Buckinghamshire and the Master of the day, Bob Hardy, stepped in as caretaker Secretary until Beryl’s election in 2000.

As mentioned above it was, until 2006, a Rule of the Association that the Master shall be elected for a term of one year only and from each Branch alternately, although Evan Davies served for the years 1893-4-5 and Fred Hannington for the period of the Second World War, and again in 1963. The very well-known composer, A. J. Pitman was Master in 1926 and John Phillips in 1931. Mr Phillips later moved to London, where he was steeple keeper at St Paul's Cathedral and other City churches. He was Master of the Ancient Society of College Youths in 1964, when the Society held its Summer meeting in the Cardiff Area.

Eight people have served as Master on two occasions, John W. Jones (1898 & 1948 - either side of his long stint as Secretary of the Association), Donald G. Clift (1933 & 1984 - at 51 years the longest interval between the two occasions), William J. Powell (1935 & 1944), Frederick J. Hannington (1940-43 & 1963), Jacqueline S. King (1952 - as Jacqueline Evans - & 1982), Reuben S. Clench (1970 & 1972 - the closest which it is possible for two terms to be these days), Peter S. Bennett (1978 & 1988) and M Jack Pryor (1979 & 1996). No one has served three times except as noted above.

Three pairs of fathers and sons have served; from the Llandaff Branch, Frank J. Bailey (1922) and Frederick J. Bailey (1955), and Gwyn I. Lewis (1959) and Alwyn R. Lewis (1981); and from the Monmouth Branch, Ken Phillips (1990) and Andrew Phillips (2006). Andrew, from St Woolos Cathedral, is the first Master to be elected under the 2006 Rules. There have been five lady masters; Jaccqueline King (see above), Yvonne Apsitis (1983), Sheila Parry (1986), Helen Phillips (2002) and Anne Jones (2008-9).

John Baldwin was Master in 1977, and was also one of our Central Council Representatives. He served on several committees of the Council, becoming Vice President in 1984 and President in 1987, both offices being held for 3 years. This is the only time that any Council member representing one of the Welsh ringing organisations has held this high office. John served with distinction, bringing much credit to the Association. SHOULD THIS APPEAR ONLY BELOW?

Very little information is given in the Minutes, up to the time of the 1953 rules revision, of the Honorary Treasurers of the Association. In fact, for many years he was not mentioned unless a new person was appointed. However, in 1939 a prominent member, Revd. Ivor J. Richards, was appointed, but at the next meeting a letter of resignation was received, as he was on active service in France. He was re-elected in 1952, and then held office for 21 years. The six bells at Llanarth were rehung in memory of his wife, and he made provision in his will for the peal to be augmented to eight, which was done in 1981. Like the Secretaryship, this Office has changed more frequently in recent years and the Association has been well served by Nevil James (1972-77), Richard Hall (1977-81), Gordon Wilkinson (1981-87), Catherine Hayman (1987-90), Beryl Baldwin (1990-1995), Anne Jones (1995-2000 ), Peter Bennett (2000-2006) and Paul Rogers (2006- ). Treasurers have dealt with the financial affairs of the Association involving large sums of money, with the increasing activity of the Bell Restoration Fund, which would have been undreamed of a few years previously.

A full list of Association Masters, Secretaries, Treasurers and Life Members is maintained in a handwritten book which was purchased with a legacy left to the Association by Mervyn Roberts of Abergavenny who died in 2001. The MC debated for some time how this money should be used before deciding on the Name Book, which is maintained by Nevil James. The 1993 Annual Report also has a full list of Masters up to that year.

One highlight of the 1993 (Centenary) AGM was the conferment of Honorary Life Membership on Nevil James, in recognition of many years of hard and devoted work for the Association; as Treasurer, when he put us onto a proper modern footing, but perhaps more significantly as artist and co-editor of the Annual Report. MOVE THIS PARA?

In 1965 an Association Library was set up in the ringing chamber of All Saints Church, Newport, to the memory of J. W. Jones, and was dedicated on the centenary of his birth. J. W. Jones left a very good collection of ringing books, and a complete set of The Ringing World. These were bound to form the basis of the Library the expense of which was shared by the Association and All Saints. Since that time a further valuable collection has been presented by Fred Hannington, and the Library is being kept up-to-date with bound copies of The Ringing World and the purchase of other books on the art as and when published. The Library is housed in a beautiful case made and donated by Donald Clarke, and for many years was under the care of Leslie Bainham, both of whom were taught to ring by J. W. Jones. This Library is now available upon application to the Hon Librarian to any member who wishes to use it.

In Les Bainham’s own words, quoted in his obituary in the 1995 Report : "In 1965 Ron Lucas visited All Saints and expressed dissatisfaction that nothing had been done to house J W Jones’ old Ringing Worlds and other books. During the same week Don Clift sought confirmation that that year was the centenary of JW’s birth and suggested that something shuold be done to mark the occasion. It occurred to me that both purposes would be served if the books were housed in a suitable bookcase to form the nuclues of an Association library. Thus came into existence the J W Jones Memorial Library. The cost was shared between All Saints Church and the Association, except for the bookcase which was made and given by one of JW’s old pupils, Don Clarke".

Following the closure of All Saints Church in 1990 the library was moved temporarily to St Woolos Cathedral, but during 1994 it was transferred to Llandaff Cathedral and at the same time a new library catalogue was prepared. Following Leslie Bainham, the following have served as Librarian: Catherine Hayman (**** - 1994), David Llewellyn (1994 - ). (It should be noted that the Librarian is not an officer and hence not subject to the "6-year" rule).

The office of Chairman was created as recently as 1991. For some years there had been informal discussions about the role of the Master as chairman of Management Committee meetings and the AGM. Some otherwise worthy candidates for the Office of Master declined nomination in order to avoid that role, and some Masters were thought to be uneasy in that aspect of their duties. The Llandaff Branch had already separated the Office of Chairman from that of Ringing Master, and after careful consultations the Association did the same. The first Chairman of the Association was Peter Bennett (1991), to be succeeded by Catherine Hayman in 1997, Fred Jackson in 2001 and Helen Phillips in 2007. The Office is subject to annual election and a limit of six years' continuous service. It is certain that having a stable chairman for the MC meetings, and one who is a willing candidate, has enabled swifter and more efficient conduct of business than with an annually changing Master/Chairman.

The most recent change in the officers of the Association was the appointment of a Public Relations Officer. The first was Julian Parker, in 1992, just in time to capitalise on our Centenary Year. Julian was aided by the growing awareness of the value of good Public Relations at Central Council level, and benefited from the availability of advice from that source. Julian was succeeded in 2002 by Sheila Parry, who had had much experience though running her own well-known handbell group Four-in-Hand in past years. However, a change of circumstances for Sheila led to the appointment in 2003 of Pip Penney (wife of the current General Secretary), who brought her own inimitable approach and amazing energy to this job. Pip’s contribution to this area of the Association’s activities is uniquely her own and is recorded later in this history.  Nick Jones (Magor) succeeded Pip in 2009.

See below regarding the Peal Recorder.

Peals and Peal Ringers

The Association has a complete record of all peals rung in the area, not just those rung for the Association and these were maintained for many years by Andrew Bull, using a system originally established by David Llewellyn. David first took on this task in the early 60s, establishing a recording system for the current activities and engaging in research and investigations into earlier peals. This activity, which relieves the General Secretary of a considerable work load, was carried on for about 25 years with only a short break when David was transferred to Scotland for a time by his employers. David's original system was a card index, which he later computerised and updated as time went by. Andrew took over from David in 1992 and brought his own enthusiasm for record keeping to bear on the task, with still more refinements.  Andrew handed over to Bob Hardy in 2009 who dragged the records into the Windows age with new software which provides all our search and output requirements in a single application.

The database in which the records are stored not only allows searching to identify and print lists of peals matching a specific query, but also provides the statistical data and peal lists used in the Annual Report and the printed pages of the Association Pealbook. While the peal recorder can always answer specific enquiries, particularly relating to early peals or general statistics, details are also available via downloadable annual lists (pdf format) for 1989 onwards from the Association’s website, the printed Annual Report which goes back to the early 1960s and the written Peal Books which cover the whole period. One-line peal details were published in the Report until 1992, but since Centenary year full details in "Ringing World" format have been included.  From 2010 a "read-only" version of the peal recording software has been made available for download from the Association Website and periodic updates of the database are also provided.

A study of these peal records gives a fair indication of the state of ringing, and shows a steady raising of standards from 1893 to the present time. Up to 1909 only 69 peals were rung, and most of these were of Grandsire or Plain Bob. Three important augmentations were carried out over this period: Cardiff were made up to ten (1893), St Woolos Newport to eight (1895) and Cadoxton had a new ring of six (1909). All three of these towers were to become centres of ringing in the years ahead. The ringing at that time was centred on Cardiff, including Llandaff and Newport, but some interest in Minor ringing was being shown at Penarth under David Thomas, and at Bridgend under John Cox. The leading conductors at the time were William Coombes of Cardiff and J. W. Jones of Newport.

The first peal for the Association, Parker’s 12-part of Grandsire Triples, conducted by F E Ward, was rung on 25th November 1893 at Llandaff. The first ten-bell peal, Grandsire Caters, was rung at St John’s Cardiff in 1898.

The early years of the period 1910-20 showed a rapid improvement which coincided with the considerable amount of bell hanging work. New rings of eight were installed at Radyr (1910), Caerphilly (1911), Llanbradach (1911) and Pontypridd (1913), and augmentation and restoration work was carried out at Machen (1911), Peterstone-Wentloog (1913), Shirenewton (1918), and Whitchurch (1909). Most of these towers were reasonably well manned when the outbreak of the First World War brought this happy state of affairs to an abrupt halt. Indeed, the years 1911-14 saw 131 peals rung, including the first of Stedman at Trevethin in 1911, while only 10 were recorded during the war period. After 1911 peals of both Stedman and Treble Bob became more frequent.

The self-taught band at Pentre continued steadily to improve and produced peals of Stedman, Erin, Oxford Bob Triples and Oxford Treble Bob under three conductors, Harry and Tom Page, and James Cross. The bells of St Woolos were made into a ten in 1913, but the first peal was not rung until 1919, the year which saw Llandaff augmented to ten. The war period saw the introduction of lady ringers, and Miss Ethel Pacey of Rumney (better known in later years as Mrs Fred Hannington) became the first lady to ring a peal for the Association at Rumney in 1913. In fact a complete ladies’ band was established at this tower during the war.

The decade following the war saw a slow start, but after a few years further progress was made, particularly with peals of Caters at Cardiff conducted by Fred Chamberlain and Ernest Coombes. In the early 1920s Fred Chamberlain was the leading conductor in the area, most of his peals being Grandsire or Stedman Caters, but his career was cut short by a railway accident in ****.

From 1925 onwards Bridgend and Aberavon bands were ringing an assortment of Triples methods, most of which were composed by A. J. Pitman and conducted by C. H. Perry. These included the first peal of spliced Triples (Union & Grandsire) and the first of London Bob. Towards the end of this period two promising young ringers appeared as conductors - Wilfred Williams and Donald G. Clift. They called a number of peals at Llangybi, Usk and Bedwellty. Bedwellty had been made up to eight in 1920, and Usk in 1925. Wilfred originally learned to ring at Llanelly Hill (alongside Bill Saunders), and later moved to Bedwellty. He moved away to London before the war and became a very well-known conductor and organiser of peals, including many in his native South Wales. In 1958 he was elected Master of the Ancient Society of College Youths.

Three towers were particularly prominent in the 30s - Bridgend, Cardiff and Pentre. Bridgend was very prolific with peals of Grandsire and Stedman under Messrs Pitman, Perry and Stitch. Cardiff remained steady with the conducting shared by Messrs Chamberlain, Coombes and Phillips. The highlight was Pentre, where this remarkable all local band was successful in ringing peals of Cambridge, Superlative and Double Norwich on this heavy ring. The latter was rung on July 27th 1922, they being the first band in the area to advance beyond standard methods.

Peal ringing in the Newport area declined during this period, but generally improved in the County of Monmouth, with peals by the Usk band. Peals at Llanfrechfa on the old six, and in 1937 on the new eight were conducted by Robert E.R. Smith with a local band. In the same year a grand new ring of eight was installed at Ebbw Vale, and J. W. Jones conducted the first peal on the bells later in the year. A new ring of six was installed at St Brides Major (1935), and augmentations carried out at Penarth (1935) and Nash (1934). In 1939 the first ring of twelve bells in Wales was dedicated at St Woolos Cathedral, Newport.

After the 1939-45 World War progress was at first slow, but had quickened by the end of the decade. It is to the credit of the Officers of the Association that they continued to hold meetings throughout the War years, and so kept in touch with the membership. Gwyn Lewis was active with peals of Minor in a number of methods at Cadoxton and Neath, whilst Messrs Pitman and Stitch continued to keep Bridgend and Aberavon to the fore. In 1948 Donald Clift conducted the first peal of Stedman Cinques on the new twelve at Newport, and the first peal of Maximus was conducted by Wilfred Williams in 1949. In 1948 a new ring of ten was installed at Abergavenny, and Blaenavon bells augmented to eight.

The 50s saw an upsurge in peal ringing, and a large number of more complicated methods were rung, but generally these were rung by visiting bands. Four enthusiastic conductors were active in this period - Jack Worrall, David King, Robert E.R. Smith and Gwyn Lewis. Most of the peals were of Grandsire or Stedman, except for the Minor ringing under Gwyn Lewis. A feature of peal ringing during this period was that they were nearly all rung by a collection of ringers from a wide area, as distinct from local bands. One highlight was the first peal on twelve bells by a band residing in the Association's area, conducted by J. Worrall. Three important augmentations and restorations also took place. The Llandaff Cathedral bells were rehung in 1953 following damage caused by the war, and under the guidance of Cardiff ringers, particularly F. Hannington and T. Yeomans, the foundations were laid for the band that was to flourish and attain the high standard of ringing that is available at the Cathedral today. Porthkerry bells were made into a handy ring of six, and a very keen band of minor ringers came to the fore under the leadership of Mr F. J. Malings. At Chepstow two trebles were added to provide a further ring of ten, and again the tower has remained very active to the present time.????? [Revise this, add a bit about the Kings and the current ringing position and possibly mention the so far unrealised proposal to augment to 12?]

The feature of the 60s was the increase in interest in ringing more advanced methods, particularly amongst the younger members. Thus in March 1962 a young band rung a peal at Caerleon with the footnote: First of Yorkshire for the Association by a resident band and first of Surprise by a Cardiff band. No fewer than five of our ringers appeared in the Ringing World series 'Up and Coming Youngsters' - N. W. H. Simon, C. Ricketts, E. N. Thomas, Miss Susan Redmond and P. W. Thomas. Two of these, C. Ricketts and E. N. Thomas, were resident students at Cowbridge Grammar School, where, under the guidance of Iolo D. Davies, a band of ringers practised regularly at Llanblethian and scored peals of Doubles in 21 and 46 methods/variations in 1964. Mr Davies, who later became the Headmaster of this famous old school, served the Association in several capacities: he was Master in 1967, Llandaff Branch Secretary for five years and for many years he kindly printed the Annual Report of the Association.

About this time a big increase in the number of peals was noted. It exceeded 70 in some years. A large number of ringers were now ringing Surprise Major, Royal and Maximus, most peals having a majority of resident members. Mr Nicholas W. H. Simon, whose father was the Archbishop of Wales, became the leading conductor, and the Sunday Service band at the Cathedral scored peals of Caters and Royal. Other leading conductors in this period included David J. Llewellyn, David J. King and William T. Petty. The Association scored its first long length peal, 10000 changes of Double Norwich Court Bob Major at Llanfeugan on 3rd July 1965 conducted by Brian Woodruffe. A second long peal, currently the longest ever peal of Grandsire Doubles at 10080 changes, was rung at Magor on Christmas Eve 2000 "for 2000th birthday of Jesus Christ". This was conducted by David Price; a considerable achievement for one who had up to then rung but six peals and called only one, earlier the same year, the Association’s first of Minimus on the 5 at Llanwern.

Newton Nottage bells were augmented to eight in 1961, where an active band was quickly established under Trevor Roderick, who represented the Association on the Central Council for many years; and Sully was augmented to six in the same year. An outstanding restoration job1 was carried out in 1966 by local craftsmen at Grosmont, which included the making of a new frame by a local carpenter. Since that time an active band has practised on both tower and handbells. The Handbell team, under Sheila Parry has achieved national recognition, and has played before Royalty and other prominent audiences. THIS NEEDS REVISING

During the 70s and 80s peals were rung in much more complex methods, and groups of methods. In 1971 Tudor Edwards conducted the first peal of all-the-work spliced by a band of resident members, it was Pitman's four method composition. Between 1974 and 1976, Ian Holland conducted Pitman's other compositions on this plan, from five methods up to nine methods, Peter Bennett conducted 54 Spliced Surprise Major in 1978, and Robin Churchill conducted Bristol Royal in 1979. This led in turn to further series of all-the-work peals, 8 spliced Royal in 1982 (Robin Churchill) and 23 spliced Major in 1986 (Peter Bennett). During 1983, the St Woolos Sunday Service band rang peals of Spliced Surprise Major in 8 and 11 methods. A wide range of other methods, mostly Major, were rung on a "one-off' basis. Multi-method peals of Doubles and Minor were rung (separately), with very large numbers of methods/variations of Doubles being conducted by David Bounds, Andrew Watkins, Andrew Bull and Alwyn Lewis. In 1977 Fred Bailey celebrated the 55th anniversary of his first peal, Grandsire at Bridgend, by ringing the same bell to the same composition. Don Clift, Lionel Jones and George Hawkins rang in a peal at Usk in 1983 to celebrate the 55th anniversary of the first peal on the bells, in which they had all taken part. Don went one better in 1988 with a peal at Tredunnock to mark the 60th anniversary of the first peal on the bells, in which he had taken part.

All this activity led to increases in personal peal totals. John W. Jones' total of 373 had for many years been seen as unassailable. However, Tim Yeomans came close to it in the early 80s. Tim battled against poor health to achieve the magic total of 374 in 1985, in his 80th year. He frequently said that his record would not stand for long, and so it proved to be, when Tudor Edwards overtook that total in 1988. Tudor was closely followed by Peter Bennett, and these two jointly conducted a peal of Stedman Caters at Llandaff in 1990 which was the 400th peal for the Association by both of them. This arrangement had been targeted for some 18 months, and yet by a happy co-incidence the same peal was David Llewellyn's 350th for the Association, he who had charted everyone's progress for so many years.

For many years the leading peal ringer for the Association was Peter Bennett, closely followed by Tudor Edwards. However on 3rd December 2003 they both achieved their 800th for the Association in the same peal at Llangattock and Tudor has now crept slightly ahead. Their totals up to 2009 are Tudor 957 and Peter 918. Of this total, Peter has conducted 518 in a wide range of methods on all numbers of bells, this being nearly 200 more than the next contenders (Robin Churchill with 192 and Tudor with 201), and for many years until 2008 he was the leading conductor.

Others who have passed the 500-peal mark are David Llewellyn (681) and Alwyn Lewis (603) with Marcus Williams close behind at 477. A list of those who have rung more than 250 peals for the Association appears each year in the Annual Report.

In the late 80s and 90s handbell ringing was also taking place in the Cardiff area. Starting in 1990, peals began to appear rung by Jim Goodfellow and Co. and then later by the "Taffs Well band." (Helen Dancer [now Phillips], Robin Churchill, Bob Hardy & Marcus Williams with Julian Parker and Gareth Dancer). After a batch of peals of Plain Bob then Kent TB, the pace quickened through 1992, and 1993 saw several peals of Treble Bob Royal and Maximus, including the first on 12 handbells for the Association. . This band subsequently went on to ring the "Standard 8" and several peals of Spliced Surprise Major, as well as a number of other single Surprise Major and Royal methods. In 1998 the "Taffs Well Four" (Helen, Robin, Marcus and Bob) rang their 25th together as a band but their very next peal (Bristol S Major, thus completing the "Standard 8") turned out to be the last due to changed personal circumstances for some of the band. Since that peal only 6 handbell peals were rung, by mixed bands, until 2007 when a new band, now based in Llandaff, was started.  With two of the old Taffs Well band, Bob and Helen, together with David Moore and two young ringers recruited from scratch, Phil Hopkins and David Jones, progress has been made (2010) from Plain Bob to Surprise Royal. They have also been able to offer handbell opportunities to a number of other ringers.

During the 90s the annual peal total has varied considerably, reaching 100 for the Centenary and following years then dropping off somewhat with a slight surge to 78 in 2000. The years 2002-5 have seen only around 40 peals each.

Notable performances over this period include : The first "Secretaries" peal at Llanishen and also the first of Maximus at Llandaff including eleven resident members, both in 1993; Minor in 35, 53 and 75 methods, and doubles in 150 methods/variations in 1992-3 conducted by Andrew Bull; Pitman’s all-the-work spliced Surprise Major going up to 11 methods at Aberavon during 1995-99 conducted by Peter Bennett; Surprise Minor going up 80 methods during 1998-2001 conducted by Robin Churchill; The first all-resident band peals of Newgate and Bristol at Llandaff in 1997 and of 8-spliced S Max in 2003.

Other regular peal bands have been successful at Pontypridd, organised by Tony Baker in 1992 and later, on a fairly regular monthly basis, by Tudor Edwards and David Llewellyn from 1997 onwards. The Aberavon band also continued from 1999-2001 and at both towers a number of new S Major methods were given Welsh names. Since augmentation Llandaff has also become a popular tower, recording nearly 100 peals since 1993, many by fairly local bands and particularly of Stedman, although in recent years (nearly) resident bands have rung Newgate, 8-spliced (again!), Bristol and Pudsey. Since about 2000 retirement has also seen some members out peal-ringing in the day mid-week on a fairly regular basis, mainly on six bells.

CADOXTON? Other Bands/Towers?

Other peals of interest over the period include : All the work spliced S Royal at Abergavenny in 1996; Six 12-bell peals rung by resident bands in "away" towers during 1997; "Bobs-only" Stedman Triples in 1997 at Aberavon called by Bill Perrins; Further peals of Newgate (1999) and Bristol (2002) at Llandaff; Cynulliad Cenedlaethol S Max (a new method) for the opening of the National Assembly in 1999 at Llandaff; Bristol Royal by a resident band at Llandaff in 2000.

During his time as Monmouth Branch Master in 2000-01, Andrew Phillips introduced a peal fortnight into the Branch’s year. Although this was not as successful as had been hoped and was not pursued, a Branch peal weekend was later established by Matthew Turner (as Branch Master) and this is currently (2010) working well.

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