Ringing the changes followed by tragedy

In November 1912 when the brand new bells at St Andrews, Biggleswade had been installed, taking the peal from five to eight (a full octave), a band of ringers was set up. They are shown here in a photograph kindly supplied by Charlotte Smith.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 7th November 2014, 1:35 pm
St Andrews Bellringers 1912 PNL-140411-115728001
St Andrews Bellringers 1912 PNL-140411-115728001

Originally the church had four bells that were believed to have been made in 1721 at Wootton and a tenor bell that had been cast by Taylor & Co. of St. Neots in 1805. By 1912, the bells were in a poor state of repair so it was decided to re-cast them, adding three extra bells and rebuilding the hanging frame using part of the old oak structure.

Sadly, three of the men from this new company of ringers were to lose their lives as a direct result of WW1. The first two, Harry Rowlett and Edmund Stratton, were killed in 1916 and their names are recorded on the Thiepval memorial. The third, Leonard C Franklin died in 1919 of injuries sustained in the war. The chancel screen in the church is dedicated to him. All three names are on the Biggleswade War Memorial.

As a more permanent memorial of the ringers of 1912 it is hoped that the bells of St Andrew’s can be renovated and updated so as to ensure that they last for at least another 100 years. In the meantime, Charlotte would love to know if there are any relatives of Edmund Stratton, Harry Rowlett, and Leonard C. Franklin still living in the area. Please contact Memory Lane.

St Andrews bellringers 1912 for web PNL-140411-140754001

In the photograph are: left to right in the back row - R.M. Spong, Leonard C. Franklin, R. Olney, Hy Franklin (churchwarden), Rev. R.S. Bagshaw, F. Thompson, H.B. Smith, C.A. Pratt; left to right in the front row - M.G. Walker, A. Franklin, E. Hussey (vice captain), F. Blood (captain), Harry Rowlett (secretary), and Edmund Stratton.