19th September 1919 - 19th October 2013

Bill was born on 19th September 1919 at Potter Street, now part of Harlow new town. He attended church at St Mary Magdalene, Harlow Common, and sang in the choir with his brother Jim. On leaving school Bill worked first as a gardener and then for a local baker. He returned to this position after his war service with the Eighth Army. Bill had met Peggy before the war, they wrote during his absence abroad, and were finally married at All Saints, Nazeing, in September 1945. He and Peggy were married for over 60 years.

Bill was recruited by his headmaster, at the age of 11, to learn to ring at St Mary Magdalene. The local band achieved a high standard under the leadership of George Dent and Bill made steady progress. He joined the Essex Association in 1936 and rang his first peal (Kent Treble Bob Major) the next year. That peal was followed by a further three peals of Kent and one of Superlative before the outbreak of war. Successful peal ringing did not resume at Harlow Common until 1952 when another peal of Superlative was scored. Bill explained, in a letter to The Ringing World (24/2/1950), that the band was attempting a peal of Stedman Triples and at the time of writing had had at least 15 attempts! Bill finally achieved the elusive Stedman Triples at Bishop’s Stortford in 1954. Bill and Peggy moved to Nazeing in the early 1950s but he still loyally supported the practice night at Harlow Common well into the 1980s.

At Nazeing Bill became tower captain in the 1970s, eventually being succeeded by Fred Mansfield. He led a loyal local Sunday Service band, recruiting new members and teaching a variety of methods beyond Plain Bob and Grandsire. Bill also led the Nazeing Handbell Ringers. He was the only one with any previous knowledge of ringing a handbell when he helped to form the group in 1973 so he faced a somewhat daunting task when the vicar stipulated that the bells should be rung at the Christmas services. Much to the surprise of the ringers they did manage to play two or three carols, which fired them with enthusiasm. The team performed at many venues including All Saints biennial Flower Festival. The majority of the first group was male but by 2001, when only Bill remained of the original band, all the others were women and he enjoyed the attention his “harem” gave him.

Bill served as a North West district representative on the Essex Association committee from 1946 to 1954, and again from 1969 to 1970. He was district master from 1962 to 1968. He was elected a Life Member of the Association in recognition of his services to the district in 1983. He rang his last peal in 1995 but continued to ring quarter peals, frequently assisting other local towers with their attempts. He only stopped ringing about four years ago when his eyesight began to fail.

After Peggy’s death Bill continued to live alone in Nazeing, supported by family and friends, until a fall this summer necessitated a stay in hospital and a move to a home. His sense of humour did not desert him and on his 94th birthday in September he was plotting an escape – once the birthday cake had been eaten! He died on 19th October.

A peal was rung at Inworth on 22nd October (RW, p.1125) and a number of quarter peals were rung at local towers to his memory. A half-muffled quarter was rung following the funeral at Nazeing on 31st October. A peal was rung to his memory at Nazeing on 27th November. Roger Collins and Clive Moore would wish to be associated with this peal as they were unable to ring.

May he rest in peace. 



NAZEING, Essex, All Saints
Wed Nov 27 2013 2h45 (9)
5040 Surprise Minor
(7m: 1 ext each London, Wells, Beverley,
Bourne, Ipswich, Cambridge, Norwich)
1 Dennis Ellisdon
2 Peter L Wood
3 Liz Griffith-Jones
4 Mary Bone
5 Richard F Prime
6 Fred Bone (C)
In memory of W H (Bill) Aley, former captain
of this tower, and Life Member of the Essex
Association, who died on 19th October aged 94.
The same methods, in the same order, as rung
for Bill’s retirement peal on 27th October 1984.
BB BellBoard
Central Council of Church Bell Ringers