In memory of Tim Gregory

8th June 1942 to 21st April 2011

It is with great sadness that I have to report that Tim Gregory died in Perth on 21st April 2011. His death is a great loss to the Perth ringing community, both personally and for the great contribution he made to ringing here.

Tim arrived in Perth, Western Australia, from Crawley in Sussex in the UK, in 1965, where his first stop, after finding accommodation, was the bell tower at St George’s Cathedral, which was then the only change ringing peal in Western Australia. Tim’s arrival made a huge impact on the band as he was able to ring up to Plain Bob Major, which the band had previously struggled to ring a quarter of for a considerable time. With Tim’s help, the first quarter of this method was rung in Perth on 4th December 1966, conducted by Tony Mann, another newly arrived UK ringer.

Report of Great Adventure II from The Ringing World of 1st October 1965 pp.653-4:
“On Wednesday 8th of October 1965 …Three local ringers were included in the second quarter peal attempt of Grandsire Triples – Miss A. Horsford, treble, S. Burton (2) A. P. Cannon, Conductor, (3) M Damerell (4) B. Potts, (5), L. Reynolds (6) T. J. Lock (7) T. J. Gregory tenor. The last hyphened name only arrived in Australia about a fortnight ago and formerly rang at St. John’s Crawley. The quarter was successfully brought around in 46 minutes”.

Tim rang in a number of other early successes in the period of the 1960s re-starting of change ringing in Perth, including a quarter peal of Bob Triples and the first ringing of Stedman Triples and Plain Bob Major to be rung in Perth.

During Tim’s later 2 years’ travels in Australia during the 1960s he worked for a period at the blue asbestos mine at Wittenoom Gorge in the distant Pilbara mining region in the north west of Western Australia. It was there that he picked up the asbestosis that later caused mesothelioma, a form of asbestosis that results in lung cancer, which in turn later brought on other related complications and finally his early death.

Tim was a very tall man, with large and caring hands, which served him well in his craft as a painter/decorator, to which he later added that of a steel worker. On his return to Perth he met his future wife, Jenny Lees, in the Cathedral Bell Tower. Jenny had returned to ringing in Perth after a period as a missionary in the Solomon Islands with her twin sister, Margaret.

After a year in England being vetted, we are told, by Tim’s family, they were married at St George’s Cathedral in 1970, in a real bell ringers’ wedding. Tim, Jenny and their family of three sons, Bill, Wesley and Jon, lived in the hills behind Perth except for a period spent in the north west of the State, at Exmouth, where Jenny was teaching.

Their retirement years have been spent in a Perth suburb, which allowed Tim to return to a high level of ringing, where he again became a mainstay of the Perth ringing community.

Tim had been a ringer in Perth for nearly 50 years, and as he had requested, an ANZAB quarter peal of (1341) Grandsire Cinques was rung on the (Swan Bells) Bell Tower in thanksgiving for his life. This was rung at lunchtime on Thursday, 28th of April. Tim had been a frequent participant in these Swan Bell Tower lunchtime quarters. He also requested that a quarter peal of Plain Bob Major be rung at St George’s Cathedral, with Rhys Greenhalgh on the tenor.

Following Perth’s first recorded earthquake, which was centred at Meckering near York, in October 1968, the bell tower at St George’s Cathedral snapped away from the rest of the structure, ringing was restricted to the front 6 bells. In 1972 Tim became Tower Captain. When in July 1973 a fall of masonry during service ringing forced the cessation of ringing at St George’s Cathedral the band took up serious hand bell ringing, while Tim led a successful appeal for the restoration of the tower, recasting seven of the old Warners’ heavy 8 into a light, modern, Taylor ring, and their dedication and opening took place in 1976. As Captain, Tim’s name was cast on to the new tenor. Tim joined in the hand bell ringing, but was more interested in writing the first definitive history of the ringers, bells and the Queen Victoria Memorial Tower at St George’s Cathedral, unearthing considerable new material and building on the earlier work of Basil Potts. This history was published in The Ringing World between 28th February and 21st March 1975. “This is Tim’s very thorough, and very well researched, history of the bells”.

Tim, along with Brian Laws, made many beautiful artefacts from the old bell frame, and these were sold to raise funds for the bell appeal.

Among the 24 handbell quarters, and three handbell peals, rung in the early years, was the first Ladies’ peal in Australia, rung on 24th January 1968 at the home of Tony & Heather Mann. Tim’s future wife, Jenny, was one of the three ladies in this peal of Minor, along with Heather Mann and Helen Henderson (now Pettet).

After bells were installed at Holy Trinity in York, Tim & Jenny spent a considerable amount of time travelling to and from there while assisting in teaching the new local band.

Tim died on Thursday, 21st April at home, surrounded by his family, and his funeral at St Alban’s Church in Highgate (an inner suburb of Perth), on Monday, 2nd May, was the joyous and moving occasion that he and his family had wished it to be. Tim & Jenny had been very active parishioners at St Alban’s as its strong evangelical mission appealed to their very deep and active Christian faith. His bedrock faith had helped carry his family through the earlier loss of Bill, their eldest son.

With Tim’s death the West Australian ringing community has lost one of its earliest members and the first of that re-founding generation of Perth ringing to pass away. Tim’s strong foundation of a life based on Christ was an example to us all. We have lost a good man and a good Christian and he is greatly missed. Our sincere condolences go to Jenny and the family.

with thanks for their help to
SUE McCARTE for the photograph of Tim

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Central Council of Church Bell Ringers