Leading Up

(taken from: – John Heaton)

When leading up the first stage is to get all the bells chiming on one side in Rounds. To do this the Treble must be swinging far enough to allow the Tenor to swing. This means that the Treble will need to be almost half way up after very few pulls. If six bells are being raised then all the bells should be chiming after six pulls, with the Treble being high enough to allow the Tenor to swing. On eight bells you have two additional pulls in which to achieve this but since your bell is likely to be lighter compared to the Tenor than is the Treble of six bells your bell will need to be swinging a bit further than on six. This trend continues when raising on ten and twelve.

If possible, the Treble should be raised so that at each pull it has risen far enough to give space for one additional bell to chime. If this is done then the raise will get off to a smooth start. Once all the bells are chiming on one side it will not be long before the Treble starts to chime on both sides. Space must be left for this and so the raise must continue sufficiently rapidly to allow it (although it may be slightly less rapid than the initial pulls). Listen for the Treble’s second chime and time it to follow the Tenor’s single chime.

Once the second starts to chime on both sides sufficient space must be left for it. As each bell starts to chime on both sides more space must be left. There may be some overlap of handstrokes and backstrokes during this phase. Once all the bells are chiming on both sides the pace can, and should, slacken. The big bells feel quite heavy as they approach the half way point, so don’t rush. The hardest part has now been done and it just remains to gradually rise to the balance. Once you have judged that the Tenor is up you can then stop.

There are two styles of leading when ringing up: open handstrokes and closed handstrokes. Which you choose is up to you. Remember that open handstrokes are difficult when the bells are only half way up because they can’t be balanced. Closed handstrokes provide a more natural rhythm until the bells are almost up. As the raise approaches it end the smaller bells, followed by the bigger bells, will start to balance. At this point the closed handstrokes can be opened until the normal rhythm is achieved.

All through the raise you need to watch the Tenor ringer for signs of distress. If he/she appears to be pulling as hard as possible then you are going up too quickly. If ever the Tenor ringer seems to be coming down in order to keep in time then you are not going up quickly enough. At all times, if corrections in your speed need to be made then make small ones several times instead of making one large one. A large change in your speed will take all the other ringers by surprise.

Typical Problems

Not pulling hard enough at the start. If the Treble isn’t swinging far enough the big bells can’t swing in time with it.

Pulling too hard at the start. If the Treble rises too quickly in the first few pulls two problems may follow: the other small bells can’t keep up because (as is often the case) the ringers may not be strong enough or experienced enough, or the Tenor can’t keep up, even with a mountainous man on the end, because there are limits to human strength. Experience is the only way to learn the correct rate of ascent.

Following a good start, there is a gap between the Treble and Tenor. You need to slow down a bit once all the bells are chiming before they start to chime on both sides.

The bells seem not to be going up. You must start to get your bell up a bit more quickly. Start pulling slightly harder because a sudden large change in speed will take the other ringers by surprise.

The small bells are clustered together with a large gap before the Tenor. This is the fault of everybody except you and the Tenor ringer. Tell the other ringers to spread out.

Whenever you stand the bells at the end the Tenor fails to stand. Once you think that all the bells are up ring a few more steady Rounds with open handstrokes.