The Wombel

Wombleat Peacheyred

The Wombel ("one bell!") campanile was designed as a high quality, portable, light-weight framework which can easily be carried around on a pair of simple roof bars and, together with a Saxilby Simulator unit, taken to schools, fairs, etc. in order to raise the profile of ringing by allowing an initial hands-on experience.


Peter Dale did amazing work using the Wombel to promote ringing in Kent and wrote the following Wombeling in Kent article which appeared in The Ringing World on August 4th, 2006.

The Wombel came to The Cinque Ports Ringing Centre in Dover on Heather’s suggestion. We were about to start a bell club at the church primary school in Dover and the Wombel is ideal for this, with its remarkably realistic action and benign reaction to mishandling. Brian Butcher, Kent bell restoration officer, and I collected it in early April from Geoff Horritt, a member of the Education Committee, who had been using it at Sandon in Hertfordshire.

The attention to detail in the Wombel’s design and construction is immediately evident. The main wheel unit fits snugly into an estate car and the three large sections of support framework, together with four long bracing struts, are easily lifted on to a roof rack. The small top platform, a pair of bell-shaped weights, two computer shelves and a box of fittings complete the load. The ease and accuracy with which it all fits together is remarkable. Our first effort at assembly and trial use was on my driveway, and provided an intriguing diversion for some builders working on a neighbour’s roof.


Debut in Kent

This was a useful practice run for the Wombel’s debut in Kent, on Easter Monday at Benenden, on the occasion of the Kent County Association AGM. Here, as at Roadshow, it was on display to an appreciative audience of ringers. All those who tried it were unanimous in their praise of the “feel” of its action, and several copies of the Saxilby Simulator promotional leaflet were taken. This was to be the only specialist demonstration of the Wombel during its stay with us, the target audience at most of the other venues being the general public.

St Mary’s primary school in Dover had invited the Ringing Centre to present an assembly about bells, after which we used the Wombel to give the older children a chance to try bell ringing. The local press published photographs of the event and Radio Kent interviewed me, and some of the children. Clearly the Wombel has public-relations potential as powerful as its teaching capabilities.

The churchyard of St Peter, Bekesbourne, on the following Saturday was an outdoor venue. The bells and organ had just recently undergone restoration, and the Wombel was there to promote ringing at an open day on


the eve of the re-dedication service. Four new recruits and two instructors have since started training there. Another church appearance on the following Sunday was to support the launch of an appeal at St Mary, Eastry. This will be a major project, augmenting the five to an octave.

Ringing for the diners

Two weeks later the Wombel was to have been an outdoor attraction at Quex Park, the Powell-Cotton estate and home to the twelve bells of the Waterloo Tower. Alas, the weather was uncertain so a last-minute change of plan meant the activity took place in the restaurant, while Sunday carvery was in full progress. The vaulted ceiling gave us just enough headroom, but it was a close thing missing the fluorescent light!

St Stephen’s, Canterbury, “looked after” the Wombel for a few days. This was half-term week for the young ringers and it was good to see the equipment being used in the teaching role for which it is intended. From there we took it back to Dover and another public relations exercise, with some brief television news coverage by BBC South East. We had been allowed two days to stage an audio-visual exhibition of bells and bell ringing in the foyer of the Dover Library and Adult Education Centre complex.

Saxilby Simulators support

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