General articles

The Martin Creed Project

Many ringers and ringing associations have been and are currently being contacted about this project (also known as Work No.1197, or All The Bells), where there is a move to have all the bells in the country ringing as loudly and fast as possible for three minutes at 8am on Friday, 27th July 2012 to mark the opening day of the Olympics. The Central Council was involved in some very detailed discussions with the organisers, during which we tried to persuade them to have the ringing at a different time rather than 8 am – preferably in the evening – or to leave ringers free to choose the best time for them and for their local area on that day. These discussions were not successful as too much had already been irrevocably decided before we were invited to become involved, although it was agreed that ringing for longer than three minutes would be acceptable. In our discussions we explained how many ringers are needed, that they must all take time to travel to the church, pay to park or to use public transport, ring the bells up prior to the three minutes then do everything in reverse, probably taking each person something over an hour (often much more) in total.

I understand that the project is to be launched with some publicity on 4 November.

The chat lists have been buzzing with some very colourful descriptions of ringers’ views of this idea, from ringing at 8 am on a working day to the concept of ringing as fast and as loudly as possible. And of course the idea of ringing for just three minutes. We were very clear that we did not believe this would be a practical proposition for most ringers. We were also receiving information about many churches that have services at that time and it just seemed to us that it would not be popular with many ringers, clergy or localities.

If you have agreed to be part of this project then that is a great chance to link ringing to an Olympic event, as we have been encouraging for some time.

The Council’s view on ringing for any aspects of the Olympics remains that all ringing should be encouraged and bands should look for reasons to link ringing to the Olympic events. After some discussion, the Council’s position on this project was settled as follows:

We are very aware of this project and have been involved in extensive but ultimately unsuccessful discussions with the organisers to try to enable their objectives to be more aligned with ringers’ views and practices.

We are not able to work closely with this project as we believe it is misconceived and we were invited to become involved in its design too late to be able to help make it more workable for ringers.

We think 8am is not the right time for ringing in very many towers and for very many ringers. It is now too late to attempt to co-ordinate ringing at any one time for July 2012. The ringing at midday for the Millennium took five years to organise.

We do not believe ringing for three minutes nor ringing as loudly or as fast as possible is really suitable for church bells or for ringers.

We have been very involved with the New Music 20X12 project for some time now and this is the main focus of our Olympic work, although we are also encouraging as much Olympic-related ringing as possible.

Asking for all the bells in the country to be rung at one time is a huge operation, as we found out with the Millennium. People often point out that there are not enough ringers in the land to do this. We do receive requests like this from time to time, often from charities holding special events, perhaps for their own anniversaries. We are unlikely to offer active support, but usually suggest they write to (or advertise in) The Ringing World to make ringers aware so that they can join in if they wish.

Kate Flavell, CCCBR President

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Central Council of Church Bell Ringers