Southwark Cathedral Society of Bellringers

Established 1911,   Reconstituted 1952 & 1977

President: The Dean, The Very Rev’d Andrew Nunn

A new bell for Southwark Cathedral

Jim Prior Memorial

Southwark Cathedral now has a sharp second, enabling a light octave (tenor 15cwt in F) to be rung. The new bell, commissioned to commemorate the Diocesan Centenary and as a memorial to the late Jim Prior, was cast and installed by Hayward Mills Associates in May 2005. The dedication took place as part of a great centenary celebration on May 14th, which also coincided with the Surrey Association’s 125th anniversary.

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Jim Prior

For the last dozen or so years of his life, Jim was a regular member of the Cathedral band. One of the last events he attended, a few weeks before his death in 1994, was the Southwark ringers’ annual dinner. But Jim’s connection with ringing at Southwark went back for more than 60 years.

In the 1930’s with his contemporaries including Jack Waugh, George Cecil and Len and Tom Fox, the “Stepney Boys”, Jim took part in many peals at Southwark, Jim becoming the youngest person to ring the (then) 50 cwt tenor.

After the war Jim was a very active member of the Ancient Society of College Youths, being elected as Master in 1951 and 1959. Due to the war losses of many of London’s rings, and the dilapidated state of others, Southwark was very much a focal point for London ringers. Following their rehanging in 1947, Southwark bells were available for monthly peal attempts. The College Youths had six of these and the others were shared among the London County, Surrey, Kent and Middlesex Associations. Of the first 100 12-bell peals rung in London after the war, about 80 were at Southwark. Jim was very much a part of this scene, frequently being called upon to ring in the other associations’ peals as well as those rung by the College Youths.

Jim then served the College Youths as secretary from 1965 to 1982. Following his retirement from this office he became closely involved with the London County, which he had served as a district officer in the 1930’s, and Surrey Associations and became a well-known and respected elder statesman. It was during this period that he became a full-time and much valued member of the local band at Southwark. On occasions when we needed to ring the front eight, Jim always lamented the fact that we did not have a sharp second and, following his death, the idea of installing one in his memory became a project which has now come to fruition.

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