As last reported here, we didn't quite get an all-local quarter peal on June 30 to honor Jim Strader's 65th birthday, but it was made up for by two subsequent dedications. On July 2, a quarter of Grandsire Triples was achieved and duly footnoted. Visitors on this occasion included Don and Elisabeth Trumpler, Greg Hinson, Meredith Morris, Alex Taft and Nancy Perry, as well as local ringers Ross Finbow and John Lingley. And on July 4, Ross participated in a peal at the National Cathedral, and Jim's big day was included in the footnotes.
A wonderful new addition to Pittsburgh's extended ringing family is Elizabeth Boyd's daughter Esther Fortune. Her happy arrival was widely celebrated, with peals in both Boston and Charleston and a quarter peal here in Pittsburgh honoring the event.
There was quite a bit of ringing activity during the week of Sept 10-17. On the weekend of Sept 10-12, we hosted the mid-Atlantic area meeting. Visitors included Roy and Eileen Latham, Bruce and Eileen Butler, Pete Outcalt and Jim Snyder. During the weekend, Jim scored his first quarter peal. Congratulations, Jim! This was also Eileen's 400th quarter peal. Local ringers participating in the quarter included Nick Rossi and Mary Bragdon. On the Monday following the area meeting, Jim and Hazel Bailey, visiting from the UK, spent the evening with us, ringing a quarter peal of Plain Bob. Local participants included Alison Peters, Mary, Nick and Ross. And finally, on Sept 17, the annual peal weekend for the US residents of the ASCY was held in Pittsburgh, and included John King, Greg Hinson, Cecily Rock and Richard Dirkson from Washington, Timothy Barnes from Chatham, NJ, and John Owen from Winston-Salem. The ringing included a quarter peal of Bristol surprise Major; it was local ringer Nick's first quarter in the method. On Sept 28th, we hosted a group of ringers from the UK--mainly Cheshire, Staffordshire & Leicestershire. Local ringers Nick and Alison joined in for some ringing as well.
A few of our ringers continued to travel to other towers for ringing as well. In the past 3 months, Ross's itinerary has included peals in Frederick, Charleston and Sullivan's Island as well as quarters in Kalamazoo and a tour of towers in Western Canada. Nick spent two weeks in the UK on a ringing tour, and also rang at Kalamazoo, and Betty joined in a quarter peal of Grandsire Triples in Washington.
As we move into the hot and humid Pittsburgh summer, we are more grateful than ever for the air conditioning in our (windowless) ringing chamber. On the other hand, unlike many other towers, whose splendid views out their windows could possibly be a distraction to the ringers, the four brick walls in our tower serve to help focus us on the task at hand.
We were sorry to say goodbye to Kelly MacShane, one of our promising younger ringers.....she's moving with her family to California. We wish her all the best, and hope she can link up with ringers somewhere in the future.
On June 12th, we had a visit from Val Brown, a Victoria ringer (and NAGCR's education secretary). Val had once lived in Pittsburgh, though before our bells were installed. We were happy to help him celebrate his 50th birthday with a quarter peal, which was also a first quarter for Nicole Bloch, who rang the treble.
Another first was Nick Rossi's peal at the Old Post Office tower in Washington: it was his first peal of Surprise: 4-spliced (C, Y, N & R). Nick is also off to England and Wales in July, joining the Butlers and several others on a whirlwind ringing tour.
On June 30th, to honor Jim Strader on his 65th birthday, we attempted a quarter of Plain Bob Triples. It would have been a first quarter for Jim, and the first all-local quarter of triples. Alas, part-way through the second attempt, Ross, the conductor, had to call stand. Next year, Jim!
After several cases of lost ringer syndrome, and a few requests for specific directions, we've added a local map to our website with better instructions to the tower itself. Another addition is a link with directions to a splendid new pub, Molly Brannigan's, which is even closer than the previous holder of the closest pub to tower title, the Saloon.
General progress continues with ringing at Southminster. We have two new recruits since the New Year in Craig Johnston and Thomas Fowler. Both are coming along and should soon be attempting Plain Hunt. Kelly MacShane has recently started on Plain Bob and should be moving “onward and upward” in due course.
Our more experienced ringers continue to work on more advanced methods as circumstances permit. Elizabeth Boyd, Mary Bragdon and Nick Rossi are all working on Cambridge Major, and the whole band is working on Little Bob but has not yet achieved sufficiently consistent proficiency for touches.
An all local quarter peal of Plain Bob Minor was rung on Easter Sunday.
On March 19th we made our second of what we hope may become annual visits to ring with the WRS at the cathedral in Washington. This is very helpful to us as it not only gives our less experienced ringers an opportunity to ring on bigger and more challenging bells, but also gives our more advanced ringers a chance to work on methods that we cannot attempt with only our local band. Six Southminster ringers made the trip, and we were also joined by Don Morrison and Lynn Kodrich, who also came to Pittsburgh for a peal attempt the following day. We are again very grateful to the WRS for their time, efforts and hospitality..
Two peals have been attempted this year, both by visiting bands and both successful. Don Trumpler brought a band to ring Superlative on New Year’s Day, and Don Morrison brought a band to ring Plain Bob Triples on Palm Sunday (March 20th). Elizabeth participated in the latter, so there was a bit of PCRG participation.
Since our first peal on Easter Sunday a few months ago, three more peals have been rung in the Peace Tower at Southminster. To commemorate Independence Day, on July 4 a band organized by Don Trumpler rang a peal of Double Norwich Court Bob Major. First time visitors to the tower for this peal included Margaret Miller, Timothy Barnes and Paul Graupner, and other visitors included Pauline Smith, Elisabeth Trumpler and Derek Sawyer. Ross Finbow, our ringing master, rounded out the band. On Labor Day, another peal was scored, this one of Plain Bob Major and which included 4 local ringers: Ross, Elizabeth Boyd, Nick Rossi and John Lingley. For the latter three, it was their first peal of major. Thanks to our visitors, Don Morrison, Mike Schulte, Aileen Murphy and Roy Latham, for participating and to Rich Pinkerton for getting the air conditioning repaired in time for the peal. The third peal was rung by a visiting band from England. Bob Smith, of Eayre and Smith, along with a group of about 15 ringers, included Pittsburgh in their tour of North American bell towers and on September 19 rang a peal of Lincolnshire Surprise Major.
In other news, Ross organized another training weekend late in July. Visitors who came to help our guild included Lynn Kodrich, Aileen Murphy, Rana Mikkelson, Don Morrison, Alan Regin and Mike Shulte. Beginners and more experienced ringers alike enjoyed three days of ringing and camaraderie. Three quarter peals were rung during the weekend, and on Saturday evening, the group had a backyard barbecue at Mission Drive, with John wearing the chef's apron and Elizabeth acting as margarita mixmistress.
On the road trip front, in anticipation of the October striking competition, a group of eight Pittsburghers, including the Peters family, Mary Bragdon, Nick Rossi and Ross, visited Raleigh in mid-August Thanks to all the Raleigh ringers for their time and hospitality. Visits to other towers included Ross, Elizabeth and Mary at the Kalamazoo Quarters Weekend in August, and various trips to Washington and Boston. Ross also participated in the two peals that were rung in Quebec City to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the cathedral.
Finally, on Sept 30, just in time for the Clapper's October Area Report, at our Thursday practice, Alison Peters rang her first quarter peal, trebling to Plain Bob Minor. Alison is the first of the latest group of beginners to reach this milestone. Well done, Alison, and we look forward to the other beginners following suit.
Here is a link to a test page for a NAGCR "apparel service". This is not at all a functioning service, only an idea for one, but if any interested parties care to log on and register a sample request, it would give us an indication whether the service might be useful. If it does appear to be useful, a proposal could be made to the executive committee and membership that something like this could be initiated. Find the fictitious NAGCR Apparel Service here.
During the past year and a half, from the installation of the bells in September 2002 to the first peal attempt on the bells on Easter Sunday of 2004, Ross Finbow, the tower's ringing master, has been writing and compiling a series of instructional articles, observations and opinions intended as a curriculum and guide for what was an essentially new band of ringers. These articles have been invaluable aids as the tower band progressed over the months. Today Ross releases this Tower Handbook to a wider audience. Included in the tome are a wide variety of topics: a clearly defined ringing curriculum with sequential target performance goals, suggestions for suitable ringing committee posts, and hints for managing ringing sessions for an inexperienced band, by an inexperienced band, and much more. You can find the Handbook on the Publications and Links page.
On Easter Sunday, the first peal took place in the tower: a 5040 of Plain Bob Triples rung in 2 hours 48 minutes, a significant milestone for the tower and for the ringers. Four local ringers took part (Ross Finbow, who conducted the peal, Nick Rossi, Elizabeth Boyd and John Lingley), as well as four invited guests: Quilla Roth from Washington DC, Bruce Butler and Don Trumpler, both from Philadelphia, and Derek Sawyer from Toronto. These four have been invaluable contributors to the progress of the ringers. An interesting footnote: though it's the first peal rung in this tower and on this set of eight bells, there have been over a hundred peals rung on the older back 6 bells, which originally hung in St John's Church in Preston, Lancashire, England.
On Thursday, Feb 26, a milestone was reached: the first quarter peal rung in our tower entirely by PCRG ringers. The quarter peal of 1320 Plain Bob Doubles was conducted by Nick Rossi (also a first) ringing the 5th place bell. The other ringers were (1) Ross Finbow, (2) Elizabeth Boyd, (3) Mary Bragdon, and (4) John Lingley. One week later, the first locally rung quarter of minor was rung. Ross conducted Elizabeth, Mary, Nick, Rich and John in a 1260 of Plain Bob minor.
Southminster Tower hosted the Mid-Atlantic Area Meeting. Featured methods during the three days were St Simon's & St Clement's, and Cassiobury Surprise for advanced ringers. A highlight of the weekend was the maintenance workshop conducted by Alan Hughes from the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in England. The workshop consisted of a two and a half-hour lecture on Saturday morning, followed by a hands-on demonstration in the bell tower after lunch. On Sunday, Alan gave a seminar on rope-splicing.
About 25 ringers attended from Philadelphia, NY area, Washington, Chicago, Seattle, Victoria, BC and other places as well. On Saturday evening, an enjoyable dinner was held at the Grand Concourse. An area meeting record of sorts was achieved by a member of the Washington contingent, who not only downed 5 22-oz margaritas, but was able to walk unaided afterwards.
Thanks to Bruce and Eileen Butler for organizing the maintenance workshop, and to RM Ross for organizing the ringing.
Following Thanksgiving, our tower held a training weekend at Southminster. Four accomplished ringers kindly offered to spend a few days in Pittsburgh and help us further our skills. Don Trumpler (Philadelphia), Derek Sawyer (Toronto), Roy Latham (Washington) and Lynn Kudrich (Brewster) patiently worked us through plain courses and touches of Plain Bob and Grandsire. The weekend culminated in the first quarter-peal to be rung at Southminster, which included PCRG ringers Elizabeth Boyd and Nick Rossi. Graciously conceding first honors, Rich Pinkerton and John Lingley joined our visitors for a second quarter-peal immediately following. Congratulations to all!
Less experienced ringers also had a chance to further their skills. Clara, Claire, Erika and Frances all enjoyed several sessions during the weekend.
In fact, no one was safe. Kathy, an innocent bystander who stopped by to deliver coffee, had to take her turn as well.
Thanks again to Don, Derek, Lynn and Roy. Thanks also to our RM Ross, who organized this weekend for us.
The annual meeting was held Nov 4, 2003. Election (all by acclamation) of new officers was held, see below for new contact information. The membership clarified the responsibilities of each position. The treasurer, steeple keeper and ringing master each reviewed the status of their respective areas of responsibilities ("we're solvent," "ropes are okay but we need to look ahead," "can't we ever get bobs and singles in our heads, for goodness sakes, and the striking....don't ask me about the striking...."). Members presented engraved pitcher and mugs to Ringing Master-elect Ross Finbow for his leading us to double first places in the NAGCR striking competition. Ross reluctantly and under pressure admitted that the band has displayed small modicum of progress.
The Pittsburgh Change Ringing Guild has just hosted the annual NAGCR striking competition. Nearly 50 ringers from the US and Canada attended. This was the first time that the event was held in Pittsburgh and in fact, the first time that Pittsburgh has competed. There were 3 teams entered in both the 6-bell and 8-bell call change category, and in the methods category, there were 8 teams in the 6-bell competition, and 9 teams in the 8-bell. We had ringers from Boston, Connecticut, New York, Philadelphia, Marietta, Atlanta and Toronto.
We were fortunate to have Alan Regin, who currently rings in London, act as judge. At the dinner following the competition, the Pittsburgh team was awarded first place in both the 6 and 8 bell call change categories, and the Marietta/Atlanta team won first place in both the 6 and 8 bell methods competition. Alan has forwarded the final tabulation of the scoring, as well as his perspicacious comments. NAGCRS's Education Secretary, Eileeen Butler, has written a complete report of the weekend as well. Brett Wormley has provided some excellent photos as well.Thanks to you all.
The Pittsburgh Change Ringing Guild would also like to thank all the participants. It was truly an enjoyable experience, and we look forward to defending our title in next year's competition in Raleigh, NC. Our continued appreciation to Southminster as well, for their support.
(We heard a few requests for PCRG shirts. If anyone would like to order one, please e-mail .)
Ringing in Pittsburgh continues to improve both in method complexity and striking quality although, it must be said, it does not always exhibit both commodities in equal measure. We have an enthusiastic and relatively young band of about 8 or 9 regular attendees, and are hoping to add to that number before too long.
We had a good turn out to the ringing course and AGM, with 5 attendees to the course and 4 to the AGM. The experience served not only as very helpful in the technical sense, but also seemed to buoy general enthusiasm, which has always been plentiful. Of those who stayed for the AGM, both Mary Bragdon and Elizabeth Boyd rang their first quarters covering, and Nick Rossi rang his first quarter away from cover, trebling for Plain Bob Triples and Doubles.
We continue to work on Plain Bob Minor (now progressed to touches) and plain courses of Grandsire doubles, but have recently added plain courses of Stedman doubles to our repertoire. This was facilitated in large part by a visit from Roy Latham returning to DC after a stint working in Grand Rapids, MI. We spent much of the weekend working on Stedman with his help, for which we are most grateful.
We’ve had a few changes of personnel over the summer. Kurt and Katy Brungrabber have left Pittsburgh to take up residence in York, PA. We wish them all the best and thank Kurt for his service as area rep. Until we can press gang--whoops, sorry--elect a permanent replacement for Kurt, Nick Rossi has assumed an interim placement for this position.
In non-tower but nonetheless change-ringing related activity, our tower instructor and brewmeister, Ross Finbow, has just laid down a keg in anticipation of Pittsburgh’s upcoming hosting of the annual NAGCR Striking Competition on October 11. We’re all looking forward to both the competition and the results of Ross’s efforts.