Very sadly Alex Scott, a long time member of the association, passed away on the 29th of May.

Alex was for many years Ringing Master at St James Church, Paisley.

Alex and his two friends Iain Peacock and James Caldwell learnt to ring bells under the tuition of Petty Officer Cheal.  It was war time.  From 1942 to 1944 these boys, all in their mid-teens, learnt eagerly and quickly.  By 1944 they astonished their elders in the Scottish Association by their method ringing at a meeting in Alloa.  They had also given a demonstration of hand bell ringing, two in hand, to a BBC children’s programme on the radio.

In 1947 Alex took part in his first peal of Kent Treble Bob Major at Paisley. The peal took 3 hrs and 24 mins probably reflecting the difficulty of ringing some of the bells.  He then rang only 2 more peals in his whole life. His second peal in 1951 was rung at St Mary’s Cathedral Glasgow.  He was asked to ring Steadman Caters, a method he had only rung a few blows in before the peal. His third and last peal was rung 48 years later in 1999.  He wanted to ring a peal with his life-long friend Iain Peacock.

Alex took over as Ringing Master of St James Church in the early 1950’s on the retirement of Neil Sharpe.  He remained in that position until a few years ago when his health problems meant that he was unable to climb the tower stairs.

During his years as Ringing Master he welcomed ringers and non-ringers alike to the tower, tried to recruit bell ringers from the congregation, and kept the bells in good repair and well maintained.  We will all remember him for his genuine friendship, encouragement to us all and his wealth of stories.

Quarters and Peals rung in memory of Alex:
1288 Grandsire Triples at Glasgow
1346 Lincolnshire Surprise Max at Tulloch
1346 Lincolnshire Surprise Max at Tulloch
5042 Lincolnshire Surprise Max at Tulloch

The Scottish Association met early this year for their Striking Competition and AGM due to the visit of the CCCBR at the end of May. So on Saturday 7th May ringers from all over Scotland converged on St Paul’s Dundee. The local ringers and members of the cathedral made sure all were very welcome. There were many notices about the programme and venues including large ones outside that informed the general public as to what was happening which was excellent to raise the profile of ringing.

Stephen Elwell-Sutton receives the Inveraray Shield for Dundee

The day started with general ringing in the morning where a number of the learners in the association got to grips with a new set of bells that required a firm hand to get good striking. For the more experienced ringers Stedman Triples and Bristol Major were rung. It was then lunch time which afforded some the opportunity to ring handbells (the usual SACR handbell day having been usurped by the move of the AGM date).

The draw for the striking competition took place at 1:45pm and 12 teams from 8 different towers were entered. The competition was judged by Tony Crabtree and ringing took place on the front 6. The afternoon progressed with those who had completed or were still waiting to ring able to enjoy the lovely warm May sunshine. All teams made it to the end of their test piece successfully with the armchair judges discussing the likely contenders for the Inveraray Trophy (best performing band) and the St Andrew’s Shield (best performing inexperienced band).

Thomas receives the St Andrews shield for Glasgow

After the competition ringing there was a service of Evening Prayer led by The Very Revd Jeremy Auld. He gave a very encouraging address about his days as a carilloneur and comparing this solitary pastime to the socialness of change ringing, invoking Charles Dickens in his support. He spoke about how the bells call all into the church and how he would love to have more ringers so that they could be rung every Sunday.

All then retired to the Cathedral rooms for tea after which Tony gave the results of the Striking Competition. He gave very thoughtful and encouraging comments to each team, saying what they had done well and where they needed to focus effort to further improve. The all important scores (given as faults) were announced in reverse order. The top four teams were very close with only 5 faults separating them but Dundee A were declared the winners of the Inveraray Trophy with a 2 fault margin. The winners of the St Andrew’s Shield were Glasgow A with a little more clear water of 4 faults.

Position Team Method ¼ peal time Faults
1 Dundee A Cambridge Minor 42½ mins 9
2 Glasgow B London Minor 42½ mins 11
3 St Andrew’s and St George’s West, Edinburgh Grandsire Doubles 42½ mins 12
4 Dunblane Cambridge Minor 42¾ mins 14
5 Neil’s Happy Clappers, St Mary’s, Edinburgh Plain Bob Minor 42½ mins 31½ 
6 Glasgow A* Call changes 43½ mins 34
7 Dundee B* Call changes 46 mins 38
8 Aberdeen Plain Bob Minor 42¾ mins 45
9 Wilma’s Wanderers, St Mary’s, Edinburgh* Call changes 46 mins 47
10 Haddington* Call changes 44½ mins 51
11 St Andrews* Call changes 41 mins 52
12 Di’s Dodgers, St Mary’s, Edinburgh* Call changes 43½ mins 68

*eligible for St Andrew’s Shield

There was then the AGM at which the CRAG report was discussed and the meeting voiced its support for. The day closed with more ringing on the fine St Paul’s 8 ranging from call changes to 8 spliced. However the bells had the last say as on the catch at the end of the lower the treble rope broke taking all, but especially the treble ringer, by surprise!


A very enjoyable weekend at Inveraray was had by all with good ringing, fine weather and much socialising.

The ringing began at 6pm on the Friday night, with the session run by Tina Stoecklin. Ringers from all over the UK attended with a number who had not been before adding to the usual faces. The ringing catered for all abilities from rounds on 10 to Bristol Royal. The standard of all touches was high although Stedman Caters (as often) proved more problematic. The tower was also open to visitors and the sound of the bells brought a number of people into the tower. After two hours of ringing most sojourned to the George Hotel for much need refreshment. The George as usual did us proud by dealing with an influx of well over 20 ringers on top of a busy Friday evening in a calm and efficient way while providing excellent food and beer.

Saturday started with a successful quarter peal of Bristol Royal. The afternoon ringing was the SACR July meeting and was run by the Simon Gay. This had slightly fewer ringers than normal with not as many SACR members making the trip for the day as usual. However visitors to the tower were rewarded with some good ringing and fantastic views along Loch Fyne and across to the Arrochar Alps from the top of the tower. As on Friday ringing covered the complete range. Tea, coffee and biscuits were served at the end of the session. During the break hand bells were rung. The first attempt at Kent Maximus was cut short by a very heavy shower, although the ringers were quite wet by the time the first one decided to break ranks for cover! The Highland Mini Ring had been set up outside the tower by Mike Neale and a large number of the ringers and visitors had a go during the afternoon. This was a very visible advert for the ringing going on in the tower and again we had a good number of visitors drawn both by this and the sound of the bells. The short evening session also saw good ringing with Stedman Caters being successfully rung. Ringers then again retired to the George for another pleasant evening of good food, drink and company.

Sunday morning came round a little too soon for some with service ringing at 10:30am. Rev Canon Simon Mackenzie, Priest to Mid Argyll and Arran led the service. After a quick break for lunch the final session of ringing was run by Jonathan Frye. A number of people commented on how well the whole weekend had gone. Again the ringing was good with Bristol / London Royal rung.

Next year’s Ringing Festival will be Friday 28th to Sunday 30st July 2017 so for a wonderful weekend of ringing and socialising put it in your dairy now.

The winter meeting was in Aberdeen and around 40 ringers made the trip through the sleet and rain to ring on the lovely 8 at St. Machar’s Cathedral. The day started with a youth practice with 5 of the Tartan Spartans ringing a variety of things from rounds and calls to Cambridge Minor with help from some of the more mature members of the association. Then after lunch there was two hours of ringing which allowed the less experienced to practice with a steady band and the more experienced to ring things they might not get at their local tower. Ringing ranged from rounds to Bristol Major. The service in the Cathedral was led by Rev. Barry Dunsmore who spoke about how our ringing is part of the service and worship of the congregation but also goes out into the community and touches people who may never come into our churches. The Aberdeen ringers provided a most welcome warming tea of chilli and bolognaise and lots of tasty cakes. After a short business meeting many returned to the tower for another hour of ringing before heading home through the snow.


On Saturday the 2nd of July the 8 members of SACR's youth team, The Tartan Spartans, met at St Mary-le-Bow in central London to compete in the 2016 Ringing World National Youth Contest. The competition comprised of eliminators at three towers in the morning followed by the top two teams from each eliminator going on to the final at St Olave, Hart Street in the afternoon.

Tartan Spartan looking at Westminster from the London Eye

However the story starts nearly nine months earlier. The youth team has been meeting for an hour in advance of each of the SACR meetings since October to have a dedicated practice. In May the team also entered the SACR 6 bell striking competition winning the St Andrews shield for inexperienced bands and also coming 3rd overall, an excellent result. Two weeks before the trip to London most of the team travelled to Tulloch for a day's intensive practice. This was a mix of striking coaching, bell handling tuition, test piece practice, listening skills and generally having fun ringing together. The day also included Molly's first quarter peal, conducted and supported by three other youths, rung on the Last Tower.

The Tartan Spartans were drawn to ring first at St James, Garlickhythe. These are the Royal Jubilee Bells which were floated down the Thames on a barge for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee before being installed into St James church. They were light, easy going bells very similar to the back eight at Tulloch where the team had been practicing. The test piece was 160 rows of call changes incorporating Tittums & Whittingtons which the Tartan Spartans rang very creditably. Immediately after the competition ringing the team were off to St Paul's Cathedral where they were given a brief tour of the Cathedral followed by a visit to the ringing room and bell chamber courtesy of the St Paul's band. At lunch time the finalists were announced which did not include the Tartan Spartans and so they took advantage of a number of the towers around London which were open for general ringing. A highlight of the afternoon was ringing on the heavy twelve at St Mary-le-Bow including ringing the "Great Bell of Bow" for James & Alex.

At the end of the afternoon the results were announced at Bow to a packed room. By the time the adult supporters filed into the church it was standing room only and looking out over the amassed 24 youth teams the future of ringing does not look bleak at all. The Tartan Spartans were awarded a B grade by the judges along with some encouraging comments about their ringing which placed them roughly middle of the pack at their eliminator and overall.

Several of the team stayed in London overnight and took in service ringing at Southwark Cathedral & ringing with the UL at St Magnus the Martyr on Sunday morning before visiting some more of the sights of London. It was then finally time to head back to Scotland on the train. Next year's contest will be on Saturday the 1st of July in Birmingham, the team are keen to enter again to try and improve on their B grade.

The Tartan Spartans stood on the steps leading up to St James Garlickhythe
The Tartan Spartans outside St James, Garlickhythe

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