Obituaries

Terence Barton (Terry)

5th January 1936 – 1st April 2011

Terence, or Terry as he preferred, was born in Sittingbourne in 1936 and lived there all of his life. At junior school Terry made it perfectly clear to his teachers that Mathematics interested him more than English and as a result his secondary education took him to the Sheerness Technical School for Boys. On leaving school he became a trainee draftsman with the South Eastern Electricity Board (SEEBoard) based in Sittingbourne.

At the age of eight Terry joined the choir at Tunstall and remained a member until shortly before his death. In 1949, following a recruitment drive by the ringers at Tunstall, he started ringing and was taught by Geoffrey Waters. He joined the Kent County Association of Change Ringers (KCACR) in 1950 and was a member for over 60 years. He rang his first quarter peal in 1951 and his first peal (treble to Grandsire Triples) on Boxing Day 1953 at Borden near Sittingbourne.

Terry saw National Service with the RAF and served as a radar mechanic. On his return to the drawing office at SEEBoard he met his wife to be, Pat Evans. It was not, however, until he had left to join the BBC at their London drawing office that they became engaged. During the 1950s Terry was an active ringer going out most evenings and weekends and so to have some chance of seeing him, Pat decided to learn to ring as well.

Terry and Pat were married at Tunstall Church on 6th December 1958 and they had two sons, David born in 1959 and Peter in 1963. Terry’s career moved on and he became a specialist in electrical installations, this led him to gain senior appointments with Balfour Beatty and latterly at Mitsubishi.

In 1964 Terry was appointed tower captain at Tunstall taking over from 56 years of the Spice family he also became a member of the Ancient Society of College Youths. During his 27 years as captain he taught dozens of ringers and held several different offices in the Rochester District of the KCACR. And yet he still had time to ring a few peals.

In 1975 Terry led an appeal to retune and rehang the Tunstall bells in a new frame. The retune was not a success and Terry felt particularly responsible, especially as he had asked the Church to help raise the money. He still enjoyed travelling around the country to ring at towers although his peal ringing had tailed off. He also loved sport and had been an ardent supporter of Sittingbourne Football Club since his childhood.

In 1991 Terry retired as tower captain leaving the Tunstall band the strongest it had been for decades. In 1995 the bells were recast and Terry, perhaps more than most, was delighted when the old bells were finally consigned to the furnace. At the foundry Terry had the pleasure of taking a sledgehammer to the out of tune fourth and smashing it to pieces. When the bells were returned and rung for the first time in November 1995 Terry’s smile beamed from ear to ear. Terry took part in the first peal on the bells in 1996, the method being Tunstall Surprise Major, he had already rung another peal of Tunstall Surprise Major on the retuned ring in 1975. On that occasion he rang the treble, this time he rang inside.

In the late 1990s Terry’s love of football and bellringing collided. Others in the tower began to join him on the terraces at Sittingbourne Football Club and Sunday morning ringing became a non-league football sports round up much to the annoyance of the tower captain who was trying to organise the ringing. It was this allegiance to Sittingbourne FC (the Brickies) that led to the Tunstall ropes having red and black sallies, as they are the club colours of the Brickies.

In 1999 Terry rang his last peal. It was Yorkshire Surprise Major, rung at Tunstall by members of the Tunstall Change Ringing Society. Terry rang 91 peals in total and despite encouragement from others, he was never persuaded to ring another 9 to reach his 100. All the peals he rang are neatly recorded in a loose leaf binder.

Terry retired from Mitsubishi in 2000 and had an active retirement. Gardening, watching football and cricket, ringing, singing and walking. He had joined a local walking group, though the only reports the ringers ever got about the walks were about the quality of the lunchtime food.

Terry’s health began to fail him in the last couple of years. He last rang on a Sunday morning in late February. After covering to a touch of Grandsire Doubles he said with a weary voice “I’m going to robe up now”. A short illness saw two spells in hospital and on the evening of Friday, 1st April he passed away at Medway Hospital in Gillingham.

His funeral and memorial service were held on 27th April. The church at Tunstall was packed with family, friends and ringers. The service contained many of Terry’s favourite hymns and the bells were rung half muffled at Terry’s request.

Terry leaves behind a widow Pat, sons David and Peter, daughter-in-law Paula and grandsons Oliver, Jack and Alex. He also leaves a giant hole in the ringing at Tunstall. Terry was always such a big part of ringing there and saying that he will be missed is an understatement. May he rest in Peace.

EMMA CUNDIFF
(With thanks to John Walker and Dickon Love)

BB BellBoard
CC
Central Council of Church Bell Ringers