Stone’s Inn Ringers are celebrating their 40th Anniversary with style, with a new album and a special Anniversary Concert.
Formed in February 1977 in a room above the Red Lion pub in Stone, 20 people crowded round 3 tables laden with 60 brand new, shiny American handbells laid out on them. That first practice was conducted by John Morgan from Gnosall Handbell Ringers and the first tune played was the waltz from Iolanthe.
There has been many venues through the years, including the Barbican London, Colston Hall Bristol, Free Trade Hall Manchester, Civic Hall Wolverhampton, Festival Theatre Corby, Trentham Gardens Ballroom, Kings Hall Stoke-on-Trent, Liverpool University and the Victoria Hall Hanley (Stoke-on-Trent). A particular highlight for the team was appearing at the Barbican Centre in London in 2008. It was a special Christmas concert production staged at the prestigious venue with Jarvis Cocker topping the bill. The Inn Ringers had the pleasure of opening the concert in front of a sell-out audience of 2,000.
In August 2012, the team went down to some TV studios in London to record a version of the TV theme for ‘James May’s Man Lab’, which was played at the end of one his programmes. The programme featuring the team was broadcast in the Spring 2013. Also in 2012 they performed a version of ‘Chariots of Fire’ live in the BBC Radio Stoke studio as part of a national initiative to ring bells simultaneously across the country to celebrate the opening of the Olympic Games.
Paul Mellor, a member from the first night, remembers; “The tune that first night was totally unfamiliar to me but the sound these bells made was incredible and I was hooked. I thought it would be a nice hobby, popping along to the Red Lion on a Monday night after ringing the church bells at St Michael’s Church in Stone, ring a few handbells, socialise, have a drink and, for someone who could not read music, be able to play music using a unique music notation that meant anyone could enjoy making music. I don’t think any of us there on that first practice night could have imagined the team still going strong in 40 years’ time.”
The Ringers are also looking to take on more potential bell enthusiasts. There have been over 80 members over the years, with a full compliment being a team of 12. Handbell ringing is an old tradition, and the team want to make sure the Inn Ringers are in a position to be still making music in the future. Anyone interested in joining the team can contact team secretary on 07816 545713.
The special anniversary concert will take place on 25th June at Meir Heath and Rough Close Village Hall. More information will be available nearer the date. Watch this space!