Interview with Gareth Davies

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Gareth is one of a small group of people, including Tina, who have PhDs based on ringing. He is also the organiser of the Five O'Clock Club for online handbell ringing.

Where are you based?

Reach, near Cambridge

When and where did you learn to ring handbells?

First rang changes at Royal Holloway College, part of the University of London, in 1972. Also rang a bit with local ringers at Danbury, Essex, where I learned to handle a tower bell.

Who has influenced your handbell ringing?

Roger Bailey when I shared a flat with him in the late 1970s. David Brown in the 1980s and 1990s when we worked up to the Fen series of surprise maximus methods.

Blue lines, place notation or structure?

An indefinable mix of all three, though I usually start by learning the blue line.

Trebles or tenors?

Trebles. I like my pair to be as far away from each other as possible.

Quarters or peals?

I wouldn't want to choose. Each has their place. Generally speaking scoring a peal almost guarantees that you will have had good ringing.

What is the most unusual place in which you have rung handbells?

Quarter peal on the top of Ben Nevis was cold, wet and misty. A peal in the Whitechapel bell foundry was memorable. Although it was a Sunday afternoon, after a while the wood drying kiln came on close to where we were sitting. The noise was terrific but we persevered. However, I would argue that the most unusual place was actually my house during Covid lockdown - ringing peals online with a band that was hundreds of miles apart.

What is your favourite handbell-ringing anecdote?

Four of us went on a weekend trip to Ejsberg to ring a handbell peal in Denmark. The boat broke down and we limped into port hours late and with a much reduced stay before it sailed back again. With only a three hour window of opportunity we ran through the streets looking for somewhere to ring. Eventually we stood amongst the trees in a small park. We scored, and caught the boat back, but the peal was accompanied by the locals joining in and ringing their bicycle bells as they passed by on the nearby paths.

Any further comments about handbell ringing in general? 

If I was forced to choose between handbell ringing and tower bell ringing, handbells would win every time - as long as the chair was comfortable.


Next time: Robin Hall