1931 - 2009

Clifford Barron was born in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, where his parents, from Leeds, had settled after a spell in India. He was their third child, his brother and sister being seventeen and eleven years older respectively. Clifford attended Shrewsbury Grammar School and took up ringing in 1944 while a gold medallist chorister at St Chad’s, Shrewsbury. Clifford described himself as a slow learner but was much encouraged by his mentor, F. Hector Bennett. His first peal was at Church Stretton in 1947 and he then became a member of Arthur Pritchard’s band scoring his first of Surprise in July 1948, his first as conductor in October 1948 and his first of Stedman Triples as conductor in August 1950.

He served in the RAF for his National Service and moved to Birmingham in 1953, a month before Peter Border moved to Coventry. The two became heavily involved in George Fearn’s peal ringing band in Birmingham (George was heard to say that “he had got hold of a couple of promising lads”).

Clifford was a legal executive working for private firms, for Cadbury’s and lastly for Birmingham City Council.

He was a fine ringer, particularly around the heavy end, with a smooth, seemingly effortless style, who placed his bell with real accuracy at whatever pace was set. He rang Exeter Cathedral Tenor, on its old headstock, with Wilfred Williams strapping, to Londinium S Maximus in heat wave conditions in 3h 50m and the 24cwt Tenor at St Lawrence, Jewry, London, to Lincolnshire S Major in the brisk time of 2h 53m. He was a member of the band who first attempted the 40,320 Bob Major at Loughborough in the 1950s and was one of the prime movers in the planning of the record peal of 16,368 Cambridge S Maximus at Birmingham Cathedral in 1965 in which he rang the awkward 8th on the top frame. He rang the 10th in the 15,699 Stedman Cinques the following year and was also in the 11,872 Glasgow S Major at Edgbaston in 1967. He was a capable conductor on all numbers of bells, calling Carter’s Odd Bob Stedman Triples four times.

He was a reluctant thousand pealer. During thirteen of the thirty-nine years it took him to reach this total he rang none at all and in several other years he rang only a handful. His general attitude was that the quality of ringing comes first, while the medium of its expression, ie, the method or principle is a secondary consideration. He chose his 1000th peal, in April 1986, to be one of Stedman Cinques when he rang the 39cwt Tenor of his beloved St Chad’s, Shrewsbury. The footnote on the peal board recording this excellent peal, “Nulles Sonus Aures Aspere Attigit” “Not a note of jarring discord hurt Attention’s ear”, was chosen by Clifford from another peal board in St Chad’s recording a 6006 Grandsire Cinques in 1799.

In all he rang 1341 peals, his last being at Stourbridge in 2002.

He was Ringing Master of the St Martin’s Guild for the Diocese of Birmingham in 1969 –1971 and also for some years at Edgbaston Old Church.

His health had declined in recent years and he died in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham on 27th December. His funeral, attended by over 35 ringers (including all those extant (8) who rang in his 1,000th peal) was held at Lodge Hill Crematorium, Selly Oak, Birmingham on 14th January. After the funeral there was a reception at the Old Farm Hotel in Bournville. George Pipe made an eloquent tribute at the service and his grand-daughter, Samantha, read an A. E. Housman poem. George Pipe referred to Clifford’s wide range of interests, history and literature, politics, art, music, the law, Rugby League (his father had been a player), railways, travel, topography, poetry especially the War poets, Owen, Brooke and Sassoon. He referred to Clifford’s bouts of depression which, of course, sometimes affected his enthusiasm.

Clifford married Molly Flynn of Kings Norton, Birmingham, in 1956. They divorced in 1983; his second wife was Janet Tarplee. He leaves Janet, his widow; Molly, their two children, Richard and Elizabeth and grand-daughter, Samantha.

Among numerous memorial peals a 5078 Stedman Caters rung at Kings Norton, Birmingham, on the evening before the funeral, was heard by his family.

On a personal note, I rang in 238 of his peals spread over the decades since we met in Birmingham in 1956 and I am proud to have been his friend.

With acknowledgment to the late John McDonald

BB BellBoard
Central Council of Church Bell Ringers