Handbell Ringing Bands

Hand-bell ringing bands have been in existence since at least the 1500s. The oldest surviving set of hand-bells were cast in Aldbourne by the Cor family around 1727. Rapidly groups of people found that they could be used as entertainment. Together with other forms of music-making hand-bell ringing groups thrived in the Southern Pennines. Hand-bell ringing bands were a popular entertainment at the Wakes’ Weeks in Lancashire.28

Dave Russell notes that from the 1840s many musical groups around Huddersfield thrived due to rivalry brought about by taking part in musical competitions.29 For hand-bell ringing bands the annual competitions were held at the Belle Vue Zoological Gardens in Manchester. The first competition, established by the self-styled musical promoter Enderby Jackson, together with James Melling and Tallis Trimnell, was held on Monday 24 September, 1855, and was won by Leigh Hand-Bell Ringing Band. As the competition progressed, the dominance of bands from Huddersfield and surrounding towns became apparent.

Before the First World War there were at least 28 hand-bell ringing bands in the area, but, as the press noted, when Crosland Moor United Band toured Australasia from 1911-12: ‘Almost every hamlet in Yorkshire and Lancashire has its band of hand-bell ringers, and the competition between the organisations attracts quite as much interest as the county cricket competitions….’30

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