Bellringing attempt on Saturday 4 October

Bellringer at St Thomas’ church, Heptonstall will attempt to ring 10,000 changes on the bells on Saturday 4 October 2014 in an attempt to set a new record.

A team of 8 ringers will be aiming to ring a peal of over 10,000 changes, which will involve approximately 6 hours’ continuous ringing.

Vicar Howard Pask said: “Over the years, our bells have regularly been rung for 3 hour peals (5,000 changes) and I have often received favourable comments from parishioners about these performances. The last 3-hour peal was in early August and the next one will be not be until mid-November, as we felt that we should leave an extended interval before and after the record attempt on 4 October.

“I used the word ‘attempt’ and, for the ringers, this is the key to the challenge they have set themselves. For this peal to be accepted as a record by the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers it needs to meet a number of important criteria and success is by no means guaranteed.

“The ringers obviously have to be able to rise to the physical challenge of ringing the bells continuously for six hours, but they have also to be able to execute the pattern of changes (or ‘method’ as it is known) throughout that period, to ensure that the 10,000 changes are rung correctly, with the 8 bells ringing in a different order each time.”

To ensure the correctness of the ringing, a team of umpires will be present, taking turns to observe and check the ringing within the bell tower throughout the performance. If successful, the peal on 4 October will not be the first record to be established on the bells of St Thomas’.

Back in 1927, the longest peal in the method known as Oxford Treble Bob Major was rung on our bells: 17,824 changes, which took 10 hours 51 minutes to complete. This achievement is recorded on a tablet inside the bell tower. The following year, 1928, saw a similar team of ringers return to St Thomas’ to attempt an even longer peal, 22,096 changes, but this unfortunately came to grief, apparently through physical exhaustion, after 10 and a half hours.

The method to be rung on 4 October is “Heptonstall Delight Major”. This was first rung, at St Thomas’, in 2001, but to date the only peals have been of the ‘standard’ length of 5,000 changes. The attempt on 4 October is scheduled to begin at 12 noon and, if all goes well, should be completed shortly after 6pm. The ringing will be dedicated to the memory of Colin Ashworth, in appreciation of his dedication to the care and maintenance of the bells of St Thomas’ for over 50 years.

If you have any queries at all, please contact Rev Howard Pask, Vicar of Hebden Bridge and Heptonstall.

Bell-ringing at St Thomas’ Church

Refurbished bells

The recently refurbished bells back in place in the belfry

As most residents will be aware, St Thomas’ church possesses a fine ring of 8 bells, which were originally installed in 1912 and were fully refurbished in 2012. They are rung regularly for Sunday service (at least once a month), for practice/training of new ringers (most Tuesday evenings), full peals (once a month) and by visiting ringers from various parts of the country (occasional).

We are always looking for new ringers and currently rely on help from ringers from other churches in the area. As many will be aware, our oldest ringer and tower captain for over 50 years, Colin Ashworth, passed away in October last year and we have in recent years also lost two other longstanding members, Nick Helliwell and Geoff Cheetham. To ensure that the bells continue to ring out into the future, we do now need more local people to come forward and join us. Anyone who would like to learn more about bell-ringing and may be interested in becoming a member of our team, please feel free to contact me for further information (details below).  Two new recruits have joined us recently and both are making good progress towards becoming full members of the team.

We are also very keen to keep residents informed about our ringing activities and, whilst the feedback we receive is overwhelmingly positive, we do recognise that not everyone likes the sound of the bells and in, particular, that some people would appreciate advance notice of any prolonged periods of ringing, such as the monthly peals, which last for approx. 3 hours at a time. These are already publicised on the weekly notice of church services and activities in the church porch, but in an attempt to reach a wider audience we are happy to respond to a suggestion from a resident and also publish details on this website.

The ringing planned over the next three months is as follows:

Sunday mornings (10.30-11.30): 7 September, 26 October, 23 November 2014

Tuesday practices (19.45-21.00) : most Tuesdays

Peals (approx. 3 hours’ continuous ringing):  Saturday 15 November 2:45pm (visiting team from Sheffield)

On Saturday 4 October we will be attempting a ‘double peal’, which will involve approx. 6 hour’s continuous ringing, commencing at 12 noon. To ensure that all residents are informed about this, we will be delivering leaflets with further details throughout the village w/c 29 September.  No peal attempt is scheduled for September, which means that there will be no extended periods of ringing for 8 weeks before and 6 weeks after the double peal.

A further update will be provided in November.

Many thanks for your support……and look forward to hearing from you!

George Campling

Ringing Master, St Thomas’ church


Refurbishment of the bells of St Thomas’ church

The 8 bells in the tower of St Thomas’ Heptonstall were installed 100 years ago this year (November 1912). They are widely regarded as being among the finest peals of 8 bells in the country. Since their installation they have received regular routine maintenance, but they have required no major works to keep them in good working order.

However 2 years ago a detailed inspection of the bells and fittings was carried out by the bell founders and some major refurbishment and upgrading is now necessary. This refurbishment should ensure that the bells can continue to ring out, without need for any further major investment for another 100 years or more.

The Parochial Church Council (PCC) considered the bell founders’ report and agreed to apply for the required permission (Faculty) from the Diocesan Advisory Committee to allow the works to be carried out. This permission has now been granted and a quotation obtained from the bell founders has been approved by the PCC.

We are therefore ready to have the work carried out. Briefly this will consist of removing the bells from the tower, transporting them to the Bell foundry in Loughborough where they will be “quarter-turned” (to allow the clappers to strike on unworn surfaces of the bells) and then returning them to the tower where they will be re-hung with new modern fittings.

The work is due to commence on Wednesday 29th August with the removal of the bells taking place over the following two or three days. All work, including the rehanging should be complete by early October and we are planning a service of re-dedication of the bells at the end of November to coincide with the centenary of the original installation.

In the meantime we need to raise funds to pay for the work. A total of £20,000 is needed and the bell-ringers have already raised or obtained pledges for nearly £5,000. The church itself is under constant pressure to maintain sufficient income to cover day-to-day costs and other maintenance requirements, so any donations towards the cost of the bells project would be most gratefully received.


Gift aided donations allow tax to be reclaimed, so that every £1.00 donated is worth approx. £1.25 to the fund. If you wish to donate, please send either cash or cheque to me at the vicarage or to the appeal co-ordinator, George Campling, Innisfree, Colden, HX7 7PF. Cheques should be made payable to: Heptonstall PCC—St Thomas the Apostle Bells Fund. If you are a tax-payer please complete a gift aid declaration (envelopes and/or forms available in the church) and send it with your donation.


Thank you for your support

Reverend Howard Pask

Vicar of St James, Hebden Bridge and St Thomas the Apostle, Heptonstall


More about the bells at St Thomas Church can be seen on the church’s own website…