Tower grabbers have travelled from the United Kingdom to ring Bundaberg’s Peace Bells for the second time ever in a quarter peal.
A quarter peal is when the bells will ring in a method for 50 minutes non-stop, and is often done by experienced bell ringers.
Christ Church Parish Council and Bells Committee member Russell Cobb said he was honoured to have the guest bell ringers take an interest in the local bells that hold so much significant history at the War Memorial Bell Tower at the Anglican Church.
“We have only ever had one quarter peal rung in our tower before, and that was last year on the centenary to signify the end of the great war,” Russell said.
“So, this is the second ever to play, and we are particularly excited because of one of our bells in the peal is from the Keltek Trust and it was baptised with the name Faithfulness.”
Exeter Cathedral bell ringer David Hird led the group of bell-ringing enthusiasts and he said they were all very excited to see, hear and ring the six bells for the first time.
The group of friends all share the passion of bell ringing and often make trips around the world to see new bells.
David said the trip to Bundaberg was decided after plans were put in place to visit a memorial of a bell ringer's wife in New Zealand.
“While we had these plans, we thought we would nip around the corner and go to Australia to see if we can go to one or two of the new towers that have come about since the last of our trips,” he said.
“The word crept around and brought this band of ringers (together) who are here today.”
Mr Hird is accustomed to ringing the second heaviest peal of bells in the world at Exeter Cathedral, and he said they were much larger in size compared to the Peace Bells in Bundaberg.
“The tenor bell here is three-quarters of a tonne, our tenor bell at Exeter is three-and-a-half tonne, so quite an enormous bell, with a name of Grandisson,” he said.
Bell ringing a passion for tower grabbers
After arriving in Bundaberg on Friday morning the group of bell-ringing friends headed to the War Memorial Bell Tower.
Russell classed the local group of bell ringers as “preppies”, and he asked the visiting United Kingdom bell ringers to be patient with them.
Ann Williams, from Shrewsbury, is one of the visiting tower grabbers and she held an interest in bell ringing for 60 years years. Ann has visited more than 5500 bell towers all over the world.
“I learnt to ring when I was about 19 years old and I am now 76,” Ann said.
“If you are a bell ringer, one of our things is to visit as many towers as possible, whether it’s in the UK or other parts of the world.
“One or two of the visitors here today have visited more than 6000 bell towers.”
Ann described the love of bell ringing as a “fanatical” hobby, and she said they were known as tower grabbers.
“If you are known as a tower grabber you have to visit every tower there is,” Ann said.
“I have been to Australia five times and finished visiting every tower, but the thing is new bells, like Bundaberg's, keep coming in, so we have to come back again to ensure we visit those.”
St Paul’s Church tower captain Ruth Andersen is one of the local experienced bell ringers, and she travels from Maryborough each week to help Bundaberg’s bell-ringing enthusiasts.
Ruth said it wouldn’t be long before the local bell ringers were confident enough to take the reins on their own.
The peace bells are situated in the War Memorial Bell Tower at the Anglican Parish of Bundaberg’s Christ Church, and were a part of a project 90 years in the making.