Our spring Tower Outing this year took place about 20 miles South West of London. We were only a small band, 10 ringers, as the friends from a neighbouring tower who normally support us had to stay and ring for a wedding on that day.
It was not a brilliant sunny Saturday as you could expect in June but the intermittent rain didn’t temper our enthusiasm and we were able to walk to all the towers without getting too wet.
Our first stop was Ottershaw in Surrey,with a heavy peal of 6 bells. They were 16cwt which made them the second heaviest in Surrey, we were told by the gentleman who welcomed us. They were heavy but nice to ring.
Then we headed to the village of Horton, another six bell tower, in Berkshire. These were a 12cwt ring in a square tower. We were warned that the bells had not be rung for some time and to be careful when it came to setting them that the stays etc. were intact. We raised them in peal with no problem and all bells were set safely. They were admittedly rather hard work to ring well but we believe that we gave a good account of ourselves here!
It was then time for lunch! We all drove towards Maidenhead to the Shire Horse pub where a table had been booked. We were joined by some friends who were not able to ring this time but wanted to show their support. The food was good, served promptly by friendly staff and very good value for money. After a hearty lunch and a well deserved rest, we headed to the next tower: Waltham St Lawrence, a six bell tower also in Berkshire.
Unfortunately there was nobody to meet us there and the church was closed. After a few phone calls, a lady came rushing to let us in and apologised profusely. She had forgotten that she was to open the door for us!
Never mind we all managed to have a ring before moving to our last tower: Hawley, an 8 bell tower this time and only 10cwt. Here is a little anecdote about the tower:
Apparently, when the church tower and spire, built in 1882, underwent a structural survey in 1990, it was indicated that the tower was not strong enough to support the combined weight of approx. 3.5 tons so something had to be done. The solution was both practical and unusual:
Having established that lighter bells were necessary, the possibility of a “part exchange” arrangement was considered and adopted. In 1992 the original bells were removed after much planning and preparation. Following modification of the frame and tower, the bells were replaced with bells which weighed 2.45 tons. They were ideal for Hawley.
That was quite a contrast with the heavy 6 of Ottershaw. We found them more difficult to ring because of the longer draught, our lack of experience in ringing together on 8 bells (we are a 6 bells band) and perhaps because it was the end of the day.
It was a good day out and our usual photographer took the photo of the group at the last tower .