QUEEN’S BIRTHDAY ENDS WITH A BANG

Ryde ringers took to their ropes early on Saturday morning in an attempted quarter peal of Plain Bob Minor to honour the Queen, who has been celebrating her 92nd birthday over the weekend.

However, two-thirds of the way through things all started to go horribly wrong and went downhill rapidly thereafter!

First the conductor miscalled so we stood and abandoned the attempt and thus after some talk rang a while longer with a touch of Reverse Canterbury being completed.

On leaving the tower we were confronted by men from the Gas Board who were evacuating the building because a gas leak had been identified beneath the tower in the boiler room – right beneath where we had been ringing!

Work on this continued all day and into the evening and by late evening we were still not sure if the church would be able to be reopened for services and ringing to take place on Sunday.

Many of you would have had experienced the noisy evening as the electric storm struck the Island.

At this point the men of the gas party were still on site, fortunately not in the building, but a lightning strike hit the tower and as one of the workers said to me this morning: ‘It was a bit of a fright to be so near, and especially with a gas leak nearby!’

Photo by kind permission of Ryde resident Jordan Wade.

During the course of the worst storm to hit the Island since the early 1980s, over 3,400 lightning strikes were recorded over the Isle of Wight area, with at its peak 93 strikes per minute being recorded island-wide.

Ryde tower, locally known as the Gothic Rocket, escaped damage and ringing was allowed this morning with 10 minute’s notice given for the all clear.

Workmen are still on site today (Sunday) with a big hole in the Church ground, but for now some sense of normality has returned with normal Sunday services being allowed to take place and performed by our incumbent Revd Canon Graham Morris.

We now reflect on events of the past 24 hours and think of how things could have been so very different!

Headline photo courtesy of John Stock.

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