About Sheffield Universities' Guild of Change Ringers
On the 9th October 1958 a group of like minded people, students from the University of Sheffield, met in the attic of number 13 Leavygreave Lane (at that time part of the Students Union Buildings, but subsequently demolished) to form an association that would in time become known as the Sheffield Universities' Guild of Change Ringers. Those present were Miss Sheila Schofield, Miss Rachel Snell, and Messrs J Perrett, J Rank, J Hartley, J Clarke, T Hargreaves, R Brown, G Edwards, K Abbott, G Wright, C Easom, G Boyes and J Thompson. The membership subscription was set at two shillings and sixpence! (That's 12.5p for the younger readers).
Within a week the first ringing meeting had taken place at Ranmoor with an attendance of 16 ringers and the Guild was born.
In the early years of the Guild ringing practices were held at Ranmoor on a Tuesday evening prior to the local band's own practice. However, in 1962 the bells of the Catholic church of St. Marie were made available. At the time the bells were not being rung and so the Guild had found what was to become its home.
Shortly after the formation of the Guild was announced in The Ringing World, Mr Paul Taylor, the last family member to direct the Loughborough Bellfoundry of John Taylor and Company, and himself a Sheffield Graduate, wrote to ask if he could become a member. He was elected an Honorary member in January 1959, and subsequently invited to become President, a position that he held until his death in 1981.
The first SUGCR peal, Plain Bob minor, was rung at Wentwort on 10th February 1960, after two previous unsuccessful attempts. An interval of nearly five years elapsed before the next peal, Plain Bob major at Wortley on 9th December 1964.
Other ringing events over the years have included many quarter peals, ringing tours, joint meetings with other university societies (including attendance at the regular NUA meetings), and participation in local Striking Competitions. Vacation tours have been a feature of the Guild over the years, with individual members organising ringing and accommodation (ranging from parents' houses, through Church Halls to camping) in their home area.
The Guild has always enjoyed a good relationship with local Sheffield ringers, with many members ringing regularly at local towers during their time in Sheffield, and local ringers in turn being made welcome at the Guild's own events.
Various local ringers and members of the academic staff have rung regularly with the Guild over the years. No account of SUGCR would be complete without mention of the late John "Jumbo" Seager, a graduate of London University and ringer at Sheffield Cathedral. Jumbo gave the Guild immense support during its early years, and was the first Honorary member, elected in 1958. He was always ready to share his expertise of ringing and bell maintenance, and provided transport at a time when few students had their own cars. This regular involvement continued until his untimely death in 1980.
In addition to its ringing activities, the Guild has also pursued a varied and active social life. The formal Annual Dinner was established in 1966, with a small but successful Dinner at the Rutland Hotel, Sheffield, and has become the major event of the Guild calendar, with a regular attendance of 70-90 members and friends.
SUGCR has enjoyed a good working relationship with the authorities at St. Marie's, and an important event in the Guild's history was the elevation of St. Marie's Church to Cathedral status, with the establishment of the new Roman Catholic Diocese of Hallam in July 1980. The first Bishop was the Rt Rev Gerald Moverley, and shortly after his installation he was invited to become a patron of the Guild, a position he readily accepted. During the early 80s Bishop Gerald attended many Annual Dinner and this practice was re-established for the 40th Anniversary Dinner with the presence of his successor, the Rt Rev John Rawsthorne.
Although formed as a society affiliated to the University of Sheffield Students' Union, SUGCR has always welcomed members from all higher education establishments in the city, most notably Sheffield City Polytechnic. In 1992 the Polytechnic was elevated to University status and the Guild quickly incorporated this change to emphasise its openness and willingness to welcome all. The name became Sheffield Universities' Guild of Change Ringers.