On 11th July, the “extended family” of Ripon Cathedral ringers and friends ventured north for its annual outing. A bright and warm day saw us heading to Newcastle upon Tyne; the well-planned itinerary meant that some of us travelled by train and Metro while a few preferred to drive. Most of us managed the whole day, although some came late, some left early and some only managed the towers on either side of lunch! Each tower had a different ringer running it, and every tower had a variety of touches. Rounds and call changes were rung at every tower – this was an outing that catered for everyone!
Our first tower was S Mary, Heworth – across the road from the Metro station – a 6cwt six, with a very short draft that had taller ringers hitting the ceiling at backstroke. The design of the ringing room meant that two ringers had to stand on the trap door over the stairs to ring. We found the bells a bit tricky, but were pleased with our efforts, the best ringing being a course of London Minor. We got warm here – and that was to be true throughout the day!
We caught the Metro to South Shields for our next tower – dedicated to S Hilda. The Church, a fine Georgian one, was worth a look before we headed to the ringing room. A very pleasant 10cwt eight enabled us to ring Stedman Triples, Plain Bob Triples and Superlative.
Two of our number had already identified The Custom House as suitable for lunch, and a large group of us took over a portion of the cafe for a leisurely hour or so.
We then caught the ferry – the photo shows some of us on deck. There are two staircases on the ferry, one labelled Steerage, the other Posh people. We dithered over which to use! Metro tickets are valid for the crossing to North Shields; once we had disembarked, a twenty minute walk to Christ Church dispelled any after-lunch sleepiness. There are 10 bells at Christ Church, with the tenor weighing 16cwt. Our best efforts here were Grandsire Caters and a fine half-course of Yorkshire Royal.
We were then back on the Metro, heading for Newcastle upon Tyne. We rang first on the 11cwt eight at S John. When the bells are struck well, they are very rewarding. In a hot ringing room, we rang a good touch of Stedman Triples at “a cracking pace” and some Plain Bob Major. We then walked round the corner to the impressive Cathedral, dedicated to S Nicholas. The twelve, at 37cwt, are much heavier than most of us are used to and the “back-enders” worked hard. We opened the door onto the roof to try to keep ourselves cool. We rang on all twelve, but also made use of the flat 6th and the light treble for other combinations. As weariness on a warm day set in, Rounds and Call Changes on the twelve was a popular touch. Grandsire Caters on the light ten proved to be very musical, and Stedman Triples on the back eight was majestic.
We dispersed, some back to Heworth where cars were parked, some to Central Station to catch trains southwards, some remaining in the city for a meal.
Our thanks to Robert Wood who organised the day – all the planning meant that we had a most successful time.