27th June 1925 – 18th October 2010

Peter Fisher was born in Hartlepool, moving to Blackpool at the age of 6. His studies to become a Mechanical Engineer at Imperial College London were interrupted by his being conscripted to be a Bevan Boy, working down the mine at Pelton Fell Colliery, Co. Durham. Peter attended church and was usually a chorister during his many moves. His Imperial College tie was recognised by a ringer and graduate of the college, who encouraged him to take up ringing at Chester-le-Street, where he made rapid progress, and rang in peals for V.E. Day and V.J. day. Due to ill health, he was invalided out of the mine, eventually continuing his studies at Durham University, graduating with a BSc. Mechanical Engineering in 1950.

It was while back home on university vacation that he met Barbara Basker on New Year’s Day 1949 at The Winter Gardens in Blackpool. Barbara was studying to be a school teacher at Darlington, and her first job was in Whitley Bay. After graduation, Peter worked on Tyneside, they married at Holy Trinity, Blackpool on 6th August 1952, and lived in the Whitley Bay area, until moving to Rugby in 1954. During their time in Rugby, Peter became Ringing Master at Rugby Parish Church. In 1965 they moved to Glasgow where he served as Ringing Master of St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral. Peter had travelled a lot with his work in the field of turbines, and in 1974, decided to take up a position in Johannesburg with The Electricity Commission of South Africa.

During 1976, with information gathered from the Durban and Rhodesian towers, regarding visiting ringers from Transvaal, and an advert being placed in The Ringing World, the first informal gathering took place in Johannesburg on 6th November. Peter and Barbara were at that gathering, and became loyal supporters and hosts of the regular social events at various homes, leading to the formation of The Transvaal Society. This was a society without bells, so there was much to be done to get public interest, funds to be raised, and most importantly, a tower suitable to house a ring of bells had to be found. Peter and Barbara were always there, and participated in the fund-raising events, however large or small. Change ringing on handbells started to take place regularly, and tune ringing at the social events when Jeff Lawrence travelled from Pietersburg with his bells and music. In 1977 Andrew Bolton purchased a set of handbells, and a tune ringing group was quickly formed in Johannesburg. Peter and Barbara were members of the group, which raised a lot of interest as well as funds from the fees for performing in shopping malls, at fêtes, on TV, also giving many free performances for churches and worthy causes. In 1979, with the full support of the parish council and Incumbent, St George’s, Parktown was found to be suitable for a light ring of 8. A number of ringers transferred to St George’s, and Peter and Barbara joined the choir. The official Bell Appeal, due to be launched in the parish magazine in February 1980 was oversubscribed before it went to press. An order was quickly placed with Whitechapel; the bells arriving in time to be installed for Christmas ringing 1980, and were dedicated in January 1981. Peter became Steeple Keeper, a loyal service ringer, and assisted with teaching the many learners.

In 1982 Peter Jobling from Gnosall visited St George’s, Parktown while on a business trip, he was also a tune ringer, and filled in for a performance when Parktown were one short. Before leaving, he persuaded them to join HRGB, and mentioned that there was to be an International Rally in April 1983 at Ashton Grammar School. It was not long before invitations began to arrive from HRGB groups, and The Parktown Tune Ringers were raising funds, saving hard, and arranging leave to be at that rally. It evolved into a tower bell as well as handbell tour after the rally, starting in Windsor, and taking in Alderney, Jersey and Guernsey before moving on to Wales, Birmingham area, and ending in Bedford. As well as the concerts, ringing and several quarter peals took place along the way. Peter like the rest of the group, was proud to be a member of the first tune and ringing tour from South Africa to the UK.

Peter took early retirement to Sea Park on the Natal south coast, it was too far for regular ringing in Durban, but he did visit from time to time. He took up bowling, becoming an umpire, and along with Barbara, became involved with the local church and choir. They decided it was time to downsize in 2004, and moved into a large retirement village a few miles down the coast. Once again they both became involved with the church and various activities within their village. Peter passed away after a short illness on 18th October, and is survived by Barbara, their 2 children, 4 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild. Peals and quarter peals have been rung over the years, but I do not have full details. It was a pleasure to have known such a dedicated and capable person in his quiet way.

SHIRLEY BOLTON

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CC
Central Council of Church Bell Ringers