Following the success last year of holding the competition on a summer Saturday evening, the format was again adhered to this year, as bands representing four of the Guild’s branches gathered at St Michael’s church in Mottram in Longdendale. Wirral branch had unfortunately withdrawn on the morning of the competition, though neglecting to tell one of its members, who had made the lengthy trek from the Mersey estuary to the Pennine foothills. Although the cloud cover often threatened rain, this fortunately held off, apart from a few spots. So participants and supporters could enjoy the view from the churchyard, perched high above the surrounding area, eastwards to the Pennines and the Snake Pass, and westward to Manchester City Centre and the Cheshire Plain.
Judge for the occasion was Simon Woof, secretary of the Manchester Branch of the neighbouring Lancashire Association, ably assisted by Terry Henfrey.
Test piece this year was a plain course of Yorkshire Surprise Major. First team on was the Chester Branch, who had requested to go first, since two of its members had to get back to the other side of Cheshire. East Branch was drawn second, and third to ring was South, who had actually drawn to ring last, but one of the team was concerned he might not get back to work in time (or was that the pub?). This left Mid Branch, who obligingly let South ring before them, to take the final slot.
The local ringers had provided a superb spread of sandwiches and cakes, consumed on a running buffet basis, but unfortunately not everyone was aware this was being provided, so unusually for a ringers’ tea, we didn’t do it full justice. But many thanks, Mottram ringers. Helen Mitchell proposed the vote of thanks before the Guild Master, Peter Wilkinson, introduced the judges. Simon commented that he had been honoured to receive the phone call – the previous Thursday!! Before giving the results, he informed the gathering of some of the things he had been looking for: consistent leading, bells leaving the front into seconds, the moment the team goes into changes, as well as other ‘nice’ changes; and ringers of 1-2 and 5-6 beware: you are only a semitone apart, so avoid those awful clashes and clips!
Simon gave a very detailed analysis of each team, with separate percentage marks for the rounds at the start, the test piece, and the rounds at the end. Results were as follows:
1st: Mid 92.6%
2nd: Chester 82.6%
3rd: East 79.7%
4th: South 75.0%
The Guild Master being the conductor of the winning Branch, the trophy was accepted by the team’s tenor ringer, commenting that after two years out East, it was now back in Mid. We now look forward to the Guild 6 bell competition in July, on the newly rehung six at Stretton.
NICK THOMSON Grappenhall, Cheshire