1918 - 2014

Most of this material is taken from memories shared at Barney’s funeral.

With Barney’s passing a further connection to a bygone age has been broken. Barney was born in Bosham, his father at the time was a soldier in WWI. Following the war his father was posted to India to fight the Afghans, so Barney’s early years were spent abroad being taken to and from school by a man with a donkey. He returned to England to complete his education and following time in Manchester, where he met and married his wife Jill, the majority of his life was spent in Oxfordshire firstly at South Hinksey and then Cumnor. He had a diverse range of jobs in his lifetime including, storeman, milkman, school teacher and thatcher. Whilst in the North he became engaged with one of his three main interests, outside of family life, Brass Band music. On settling into Cumnor he entered into the other two, rowing and bellringing. The Falcon Rowing Club in Oxford received much of his time where he encouraged many of the canoeists to take up rowing. He was not keen on competition much as he felt that one person winning would demotivate all the others.

He had no great aspirations as a change ringer, he was happy to ring the tenor behind and occasionally to plain hunt the treble. His great love though was teaching people to ring. He had a theory that if all children in the village were taught to ring, allowing for the high rate of wastage as people progress through life, there would still be a residue sufficient to maintain a band. In the early 1970s he travelled to Sunningwell each week in his Morris traveller, together with Penny his dog, to help Jim Honey teach the raw recruits that had been rounded up there. This is where I first encountered him and I shall always be grateful for his help and encouragement in my very first steps in ringing.

Following retirement he became a keen traveller and he and Jill travelled extensively to Canada, USA, South Africa, and in 1988 to Australia one of the “Bicentennial” ringing tours. Sadly in 1989 Jill died; a blow which he felt very keenly. However he bounced back and in later years took himself to Barbados to watch the cricket.

He had not rung for a number of years due to declining heath, however the gathering at his funeral gave him a send off of which we he would have been very pleased. It was a joyous and very understated affair – just like him.

One tale recounted by his son Roger recalled a cricket match one day in which Barney was in the outfield. Two Cumnor players were sitting on the roller, the first one says “That’s Barney Ainslie isn’t it? He’ll drop that catch”. The second replied “yes it is he will drop it, but he is such a good sport”. For Barney the important thing was not winning but taking part. This incident sums up the very kindly, patient, gentle man that Barney was.


BB BellBoard
Central Council of Church Bell Ringers