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24th - 26th May, 2003
(Click image to enlarge)

Report by Paul L Carless

I believe it may have been last November when I first received an invitation from Gwen Rogers to go on a peal weekend to Manchester this last late May Bank Holiday. Being the organised chap I am, I immediately replied and made all the necessary arrangements. No I didn’t, it stayed in my inbox for ages until Gwen in her usual way corralled, pleaded and bullied me into responding/paying/attending. Here’s a tip; if you see Gwen approaching with glasses on and organiser and pencil in hand and you haven’t responded to her, run, don’t walk to the nearest exit.

Gwen was organising the London contingent of a North/South ASCY weekend masterminded by Jeff Brannan based in Manchester. There were peals on the Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday around the North and North West with a dinner on the Sunday evening in central Manchester.

Eventually, I arrived at the hotel where most of us were staying at around midnight. For those readers worried that I had arrived after closing hours, I had stayed at the hotel before and knew that the bar was an ‘all-nighter’. Indeed the friendly sight of Andrew, Joe and David tucking into Guinness greeted me. I enthusiastically joined in.

The Master turned up at two thirty after a night out in Manchester and I insisted he joined me for a couple of Gins for the sake of politeness. I understand he wasn’t very polite about me the next morning as he left for Pierhead then Macclesfield.

Most of the London contingent were in a peal at Halifax on the Saturday. What a cracking peal of bells these are. John Hughes D’Aeth was conducting and it was a twelve he needed to peal. Those who know John will be aware that only mechanical failure will prevent a peal being scored in the these circumstances so when at one point John said cut the mistakes out, Phil Rogers said "Or what? You going to set it up?" We scored the peal. It’s a shame that the internal acoustics there aren’t better. Where I was ringing you could only hear the back two and the treble, a sort of ‘boom-boom-tish’ effect. Those of you familiar with the opening of the Queen song "We Will Rock You" can imagine the situation.

Next door for a couple of pints of Timothy Taylor’s Landlord. It really is God’s own medicine.

Back to Manchester for beer and tea. Phil Rogers was reluctant to come out as he strongly stressed a wish to stay in and watch the Eurovision Song Contest. Phil Rogers, nil points.

An excellent meal in Chinatown followed where most of us were surprised by the size of the aromatic crispy duck. A flock of ducks would be more appropriate. What is the collective noun for ducks, an England Innings perhaps?


After a gentle night in the bar, most of us met up for breakfast. A leisurely morning was had, then a very pleasant drive over the peaks to Rotherham. Perhaps it’s me but every time I go to Rotherham it has all the qualities of a ghost town where even the ghosts have left. Perhaps they went to Goole. (Sorry for that).

Unfortunately there was no-one here to meet us, the verger was away and the Vicar had no idea about the peal. Half an hour after the start time it looked like a non-event and I was mentally preparing myself to go to the One Eyed Rat in Ripon to a beer festival and surprise a few friends. However, Gwen, glasses on and organiser and pencil in hand headed inside the church. The Vicar never stood a chance and Gwen eventually got hold of the tower keys. We duly rang a peal of spliced maximus in hot and airless conditions.

Our next challenge was to wade through all the tumbleweed to find a) a pub and b) a pub that was open. After twenty minutes we gave up and headed back to the car park where we noticed a pub that was open just opposite. Although it felt like walking onto the set of the film Deliverance there was a choice of Stones or London Pride so we stayed for a couple. After a while a very strange individual came and sat at the next table and stared at us. His demeanour and looks pointed to the very real possibility that he was his own father and this coupled with the sudden strumming of a banjo from the next bar indicated that it was probably time to go. 

Click to enlarge Kelly Barnes, Andrew Graham, Jo Ainsworth, Paul Carless and Hannah Wilby

Back in Manchester we got back in perfect time for the meal being held at the Ape and Apple pub. This was the focal point of the weekend with all the participants from all the peals meeting up along with partners for what the College Youths really do best.

A great three course meal prepared by the pub staff at very little notice (a change of management, chef and diary in the previous week nearly scuppering Jeff’s awesome organisational skills) was very much appreciated at a ridiculously low price. I do like the North. Thanks were given to Jeff and Gwen for their hard work organising the weekend and to the pub staff for coping so admirably. Then it was back to the beer and socialising until eventually, the landlord managed to get us all out. At least one past Master was here in spirit rather than person.

Click to enlarge The pub sign for the Ape & Apple,
venue for a dinner where everybody could meet.

Nearly everyone went home/back to hotel but the Master, I understand, decided that he needed to stress the importance of fellowship with one or two of our newest members and insisted upon going ‘clubbing’ with the youngsters. It would never have happened in my day. 

Click to enlarge The Master with 4 new members:
Robin Newsome, Sam Austin, Dickon Love, Paul Tiebout, Paul Hunter.


Having got up at 0hell:00 hours, breakfast, for some strange reason, failed to entice me with its usual pleasures so tea and toast were forced down. Off then to Broughton-In-Furness for our final peal, Cambridge Max. Owing to a couple of injuries we were potentially two short for the peal, but the previous evening, maybe as a result of white wine, Hannah Wilby very kindly offered herself and Kelly Barnes as stand ins. She’ll learn.

The drive to Broughton is long, but you are well rewarded with the stunning scenery of the Lakes. Broughton itself is a very pretty little village. We all met up carload by carload although one of the girlies had suffered a stamina crisis so young Mr Tiebout stood in for her. Broughton was another twelve that John Hughes D’Aeth needed to peal, as indeed we all did, so he was piloting again. The second course split the tenors up which created a little apprehension for the band and slowed the ringing somewhat, but with the tenors back together the following course and some fairly heroic right shoulder work from the tenor ringer we managed to speed the bells up to a respectable conclusion.

Unfortunately people needed to fly, drive and take the train home so we parted company straight after the peal but made it home in good time for a couple of sherberts and to reflect upon a thoroughly enjoyable weekend.

Thanks then to Jeff Brannan and Gwen Rogers for their hard work and organisation and for the start of something I suspect will become an annual event.

11 peals rung
54 ringers involved
984 miles driven by the author
0 points for Miss Barnes for her drinking prowess

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The church of St Mary the Virgin and St Anne, Ambleside, where a peal was rung on the Sunday.
You can hear some of the rounds here.
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Derek Thomas, Jeff Brannan (organiser of the weekend) and Nina Brannan. The Hughes-D'Aeth family and some of the York ringers.
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David Mitchell and some ringers from York. David Potter.
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Tudor Edwards, David Friend, Geoff and Peter Randall. Mr & Mrs Peter Gardner and John Hyden.
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Carole and Trevor Marchbank and Clive Smith
(the Cheadle crew)
Janet Hopwood, Sandra Mitchell and John Hopwood
(from Liverpool)
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John Cornock and Peter Furniss at the bar.
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Rachael Mitchell and Robin Newsome. Paul Hunter, Sam Austin and Paul Tiebout
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Jim and Val Andrews. Stephen Brannan and Gordon Birks.
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View across the room. The Secretary, Phil Rogers, about to plunge into chocolate cake!
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Caught in the act: Sandra Mitchell and Paul Tiebout adding to the holes in Sam Austin's jumper. Sam does not seem overly happy at the result.
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David Potter and Stephen Brannan. More drinking in the room.
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Robin Newsome. Wayne Bugg, Darren Stanhope and Dickon Love.

Broughton-in-Furness: the venue for a Monday afternoon peal.

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