24th February 2016

The Tower Handbook

“The most comprehensive new ringing book of the past decade”

That was some accolade for a book with the modest title of The Tower Handbook. It was Sotherans’ verdict after they had printed it in 1998, in an advertisement where they proudly associated themselves with the birth of the new work. It was a fitting description. As all those ringers with a copy will know, The Tower Handbook is unlike any previous ringing publication. This article is for the benefit of those ringers who have managed to come through the subsequent years without seeing a copy.

How it all began

The idea was conceived back in 1993, at the first meeting of the newly enlarged, and almost entirely new, CC Education Committee, but it took several years, and a lot of hard work, to bring it to fruition. The vision was of a reference book that would live in a tower and be a source of information on anything the members of the band wanted to know.

As you might imagine, the title was much debated. The Tower Handbook reflected the original aim that it would live in the tower, but when the book appeared, it soon became clear that it was just as valuable as a personal copy. After all, when you want to know something, you are just as likely to be at home as in the tower. And as Steve Coleman’s excellent “bedside companion” series of books has shown, many ringers prefer to read at home, where they have more time.

In a similar vein, you could describe The Tower Handbook as a “coffee table book” keep it handy on the tower table, and whenever you have a spare moment, between touches say, pick it up and dip into it to find something new and interesting.

Browsing doesn’t stop you using it as a serious reference book as well, for all those questions that come up and need an answer.

The chapters are organised by topic, with each presented through a series of self-contained questions and answers. You can read in small bite sized chunks, or you can read through many chunks of a whole topic. It tries to “say something about everything”, a bold aim, which has been largely achieved.

This section of the Education Committee website dips into The Tower Handbook to give you a flavour of its contents, but here is a quick overview.

What is in it?

It starts with a list of references to over 70 other ringing publications. After all, no one book can say all there is to say, so it is helpful to know where you can follow up topics in more detail. For each book listed, there is a thumb nail description to give you an idea of what is in it.

The main sections contain answers to over 800 questions.

Four sections cover “general” topics like: “Good Habits” (everything from safety to striking and hospitality) “General Ringing Knowledge” (to reach corners of your curiosity that other products fail to reach from the origin of bells to why a sally is a sally), “How Things Work” (simple explanations for non technical folk) and “Useful Things to Have” (you would be amazed).

Three sections deal with organisation, relationships and management, both within a tower, and with people outside.

The four sections on learning and teaching (and “helping”) form the largest part of the book. “Teaching” and “learning” are each divided into 12 sections, including bell control, ringing with other ringers, rhythmic ringing, listening, ropesight, various levels of method ringing and conducting.

A comprehensive section on maintenance, covers: bells, wheels, ropes, etc and has a ” list of symptoms and possible causes”.

The book is rounded off with a most comprehensive glossary explaining over 600 ringing words and phrases. With over 400 pages, generously illustrated with diagrams and cartoons, there is a lot in The Tower Handbook. It would have to stay a long time on your table before you exhausted its contents.

Where can I get it?

The Tower Handbook is available from: Central Council Publications

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