Historian Mike Petty to open Cambridgeshire’s first bell ringing education centre at Stretham church

Together with officers from the Ely Diocesan Association of Church Bell Ringers, he will cut a ribbon and declare this hi-tech new learning facility for bell ringers open for all to use.

Although the art of change ringing is more than 400 years old and the skill has traditionally been passed on from one generation to the next, the need for a more structured and standardised teaching approach is now widely recognised to ensure the continuity of church bell ringing in the 21st century.

Part of this strategy is to provide appropriate learning facilities and concentrate expert instruction at particular locations, known as Ringing Education Centres where people of all ages and abilities can go to learn, improve and perfect their bell ringing skills.

Seeing such centres being opened in other parts of the country, Phil Bailey, education officer of the Ely Diocesan Association of Church Bell Ringers, led the initiative to establish Cambridgeshire’s first Ringing Education Centre at St James Church.

Stretham was chosen because of its excellent mid-weight ring of six bells, safe access to the belfry, good facilities and accessibility by public transport.

At the heart of the centre is its newly-installed bell ringing simulator which uses computer technology to enable up to six individuals to practise separately at the same time, all without any external sound.

The bells are silenced by tying up their clappers but electronic sensors on each bell relay signals at the precise point of striking to a computer software program.

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