The University of Sheffield
Sheffield Universities' Guild of Change Ringers (SUGCR)
Sheffield Hallam University

Easter 1998 Ormskirk Tour

Account by Lesley Taylor

It was a cold evening in the Easter Holidays, the 24th of April, when the intrepid band that is the Universities' Guild met in the Arts Tower car park ready for a weekend of fun and frolics in the Lancashire town of Ormskirk, home of our beloved treasurer, Fleur, (beloved because she arranges big fat grants from the Union for us).

Driven to Ormskirk in luxurious style, and met by an interloper from Lancaster University, we arrived to ring the bells of the Lancashire market town in the late evening. Refreshments were found in a hostelry across the road from our lodgings for the duration, Ormskirk parish hall. The juke box was found to contain rare gems from Madness and the ringers and locals were serenaded for the evening by the entertaining pair of Madness fans in the band who knew all the words to all the songs. (The names of the musical duo will remain anonymous until the correct fee is handed over to the author.) Needless to say the vocalistic talent was ably lubricated by a few pints of the local "lemonade sherbert".

Andrew Darling entertains the two Gillians in Ormskirk Church Hall.

On a more serious note if anyone is looking for accommodation in the Lancashire area then Ormskirk Parish Centre is a joy to behold. Fitted carpets improved the comfort value of a weekend on a church hall floor dramatically and an alarm system gave great peace of mind, at least until the vicar came in early one morning, forgot we were there, and set all zones to active. We had no choice but to set off the alarm in the morning when we arose.

Look, we do actually do some ringing now and again.

The Saturday morning saw us up reasonably early for a jaunt to Southport for Christchurch and Emmanuel churches. Christchurch first and the rather cramped conditions ensured we were all friendly to each other. Then on to Emmanuel where we were treated to a little more space. Both towers saw some good ringing and a credible start to the day's ringing.

The Church of Emmanuel, Southport, on a sunny Saturday.

After the hustle and bustle of the Seaside town we escaped into the countryside to ring at Aughton and Parbold before continuing our travels south to Newton-le-Willows. We arrived early for our ringing session and had to find some way to amuse ourselves, not difficult for ringers in a town with several watering holes.

"Lemonade Sherberts" in Newton-le-Willows

Then on to the delights of Halsall for our final ring of the day. Six towers, a good lunch, afternoon drinks and the prospect of a food provided by Fleur's parents in the evening helped to keep the spirits of our intrepid band very high. One of the highlights of the tour though had to be the availability of a shower on the Saturday night. Fleur's parents, who had volunteered to entertain us for the evening, graciously allowed anyone who wanted to the use of the shower. Towels were supplied for the washed, while food and drink were aplenty for the unwashed. The finale of the day was a return to the pub and the Madness jukebox.

Sunday dawned bright and early on a band refreshed from the hospitality of the night before. We gathered on the steps of Ormskirk church for a tour photo taken by a professional photographer no less, (Fleur's dad). Having rung for the service at our host church we started off into the metropolis of Liverpool for a final two towers of the tour. St. Nicholas, Pier Head, saw us struggle a bit due to our lack of heavy bell ringers but, by keeping the ringing simple, we gave a credible performance on these heavy going, but resonant, bells. After lunch, in a very dodgy pub in the backstreets of the city, we went on to the Metropolitan Cathedral for the heaviest ring in the world. Joining the local ringers for an afternoon practice all who wanted to were able to ring these world famous bells. We did have one very talented heavy bell ringer, (Gillian B), who did manage to ring round the back, but not as far as she would have liked.

All in all everyone enjoyed the tour and many thanks must go to Fleur and her parents for ensuring that we got good towers, good hospitality and above all good comradeship. Let's face it, that is what the Guild is all about when all is said and done.

The University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK