Article from the Ringing World
The bells went into changes at 11.01 and, in spite of a couple of minor method errors in the first course, a confident start was made to the peal, with a strong rhythm established from the outset. The first few courses each took just over 14 minutes and thereafter the pace gradually quickened, settling at a consistent 13 minutes 30 seconds per course, give or take a few seconds, for the last 20 courses.
There were very few mistakes of any kind throughout the peal, with minimal intervention required from the conductor. Even an unscheduled entrance into the ringing room from the clock-winder after nearly 2 hours didn’t in any way disturb the flow of the ringing. The half-way point was reached after 3h13 and, with all of the band obviously relaxed but focused, the consistency and quality of the ringing was maintained throughout the second half of the peal, which was completed in 3h9. The bells ran back into rounds at 17.23 to conclude an impressive performance which had been a pleasure to listen to, as well as to umpire.
We checked every lead end and confirmed that all calls were made and executed correctly. We congratulate the band on their achievement and have no hesitation in recommending the acceptance of this peal as the record length of Xenolite Surprise Royal.
It’s not often that you get the opportunity to ring a long length in a cathedral*, so it was particularly pleasing when the Dean of Blackburn Cathedral, the Very Reverend Christopher Armstrong, granted permission for this attempt. Encouraged by local ringers, the cathedral publicity machine swung into action and on arrival we were greeted by an advertising board outside the west front, a press release, local newspaper men and the Dean himself. Apparently the Dean was a ringer in his student days and before we had even started he suggested that a peal board would be appropriate if we were successful – no pressure then!
Blackburn has a fine ring of bells, but they’re no pushover with a 25cwt tenor and varying degrees of odd-struckness around the circle. However, most of the band are really familiar with the bells so we settled quickly and rang an enjoyable peal in a method that deserves a prolonged airing. Our thanks go to the umpires who were perched precariously on a mountain of boxes just inside the ringing room and now the least we can do is sort out that peal board for the Dean.
* Of the 272 long lengths rung on tower bells over the last 50 years, just 6 have been in cathedrals (PealBase)