Leading Down

(taken from: – John Heaton)

When leading down it is important to realise that your bell is probably the lightest and will come down quite quickly on its own. With this in mind you should leave enough time at the end of the session for a relaxed lower.

Some leaders start the lower by just ringing a bit more quickly, leaving the ringers to decide for themselves if it has actually started. It is best to start with a command such as “downwards”, “look to the fall”, or whatever the local custom is. To start the lower the Treble should ring slightly quicker than Rounds but keep the bell at the balance. This will allow the Tenor to come off the balance without too much effort. From now on the speed of the lower is determined by the speed at which the Tenor ringer can comfortably drop the Tenor. Any open handstroke leads will disappear and the bells will run round and round without handstrokes and backstrokes overlapping and without gaps.

The Treble must come down a tiny amount at each stroke. This helps to keep the rate of descent steady and predictable for the other ringers. If the Treble comes down by a small amount the increase in speed will require the Tenor to come down by a more substantial amount. Keep a watch on the Tenor ringer. He/she should appear relaxed and at peace, and the Tenor should come down a small amount each time.

Eventually the Tenor will stop chiming as its handstroke disappears. A gap will appear between the Tenor and Treble. This is the point at which the Treble should start to come down slightly more quickly to keep this gap closed. As other bells’ handstrokes disappear the Treble should be closed in to fill the gap. The may be some overlap of remaining handstrokes and backstrokes at this point. Once all the bells have stopped chiming at handstroke the Tenor will be almost down and the bells will be chiming in Rounds. Bring the Treble down to the point where the Tenor is swinging just a few inches. Perform the ritual counting and stopping in Rounds or Queens.

Typical Problems

The lower breaks up just after the start. You have probably brought the Treble down too much too soon. Remember that the Treble must remain at the balance for a few pulls until the pace quickens a bit.

The main part of the lower is uneven. You are probably coming down at the correct speed, on average, but you probably find that you need to come down a bit and then back up a bit in order to keep right. It is important to maintain as constant a speed of lowering as possible.

The bells don’t seem to want to come down. You need to be bold and start to bring the Treble down slightly more quickly. If this means that handstrokes and backstrokes overlap then so be it.

A large gap appears as the bells approach 3/4 of the way down. You have probably not sped up to fill in the gap left by the big bells losing the handstroke chime. This is the point where the slight increase in rate of descent should occur. Start to come down more quickly but don’t fill the whole gap all at once.

As you start to fill the gap left by disappearing handstroke chimes the Rounds breaks into two with the ringers of the back bells in obvious distress. You have sped up to fill the gap but have overdone it. The smaller bells can keep up with you but the big ones can’t.

You survive the final phase but at the end the Tenor seems isolated with the other bells clustered at the front. The Rounds overlap. You have come down too far and the Tenor can’t be made to swing quickly enough. You must bluff your way out of this by going back up a bit.