50th Anniversary of the first ECG towerbell peal
By David Maynard
On Saturday 16 June, eight members of the Exeter Colleges Guild met at Broadclyst to commemorate the first towerbell peal by the ECG. The same method, Plain Bob Major; and composition - 5088 by John Longridge - was rung. The band included two founder members, David Atkins and Malcolm Turner who had rung in the original peal in 1968. These two had also rung in the very first ECG peal - Plain Bob Minor on handbells earlier that same year. Both these early peals had been conducted by John Longridge. A very enjoyable peal was rung on these fine bells, followed by lunch with friends at the nearby Red Lion Inn. David Atkins treated us to a short Presidential address, in which he shared some of his reminiscences about early ECG peals.
The band was also joined for lunch by William (Bill) Perrins, who had rung in the 1968 peal as a supernumerary to strengthen the band, before his move to Australia. By lucky chance Bill was in the UK to visit his daughter, so three members of the original band were present for lunch. David Atkins explained that the first ever ECG dinner had been held the same day as the 1968 peal in the upstairs room of what is now "The Chevalier" on Fore Street in Exeter, so it was fitting that some of us gathered together for a meal following the anniversary peal. Later that evening, some of us went for a quick pint at The Chevalier and concluded it wouldn't work as a future dinner venue...
This peal concluded the rather extended celebrations of the ECG 50th anniversary, which started in February last year with two peals the day before the 50th anniversary dinner; Kent Royal on handbells and a 5050 of Spliced Caters at St Mark's, the ECG's original home tower. The 50th anniversary dinner itself was well attended and featured an enjoyable afternoon of competitive activities at St David's (the current home of the ECG) and a speech by Tom Longridge, son of the ECG's founder member and first President, John Longridge. In September 2017 a 5050 of Stedman Cinques was successfully rung at Exeter Cathedral, and in October a peal of Plain Bob Major was rung at St David's by a band of former Masters and Secretaries. The 50th anniversary of the ECG's first peal, Plain Bob Minor on handbells, was marked in March 2018 with a weekend of handbell peals and quarter peals, including a peal of Plain Bob Minor on the same six bells used for the first peal.
Hopefully the ECG will continue to prosper over the next half century, and hopefully some of us who took part in the 50th anniversary celebrations will still be around for the centenary!