The Tower Handbook

Answers to 1001 questions about ringing

 Cover picture 

Compiled by John Harrison

Originally published by Central Council Publications in 1998, discontinued in 2013

Republished online by John Harrison in 2018

Original preface

Creating this Handbook has taken a lot of effort by a lot of people. The project grew out of a brain storming session in the Education Committee when John Turney had the vision that there ought to be some sort of reference book that could live in a tower and would be a central focus of information on anything the members of the band wanted to know.

It took a long while to turn this vision into reality. Everyone agreed it was a good idea but we realised one of the most important aspects was to make sure people got into the habit of using it rather than just putting it on the shelf. That caused a lot of hard thought. In the end we hit on the idea of questions and answers. This would break the material into small chunks that could be read on their own, so the book could be browsed as well as used for reference.

We decided that the more different topics it contained, the more likely people would be to dip into it regularly, so it had to cover a wide range of subjects. The structure you now see evolved gradually as topics were added, divided or merged. In the spirit of a reference work we decided it had to have a comprehensive glossary. I drew a lot of useful inspiration from David Struckett’s earlier publication A Dictionary of Campanology, though I was surprised how new terms just kept cropping up.

I have received a lot of help putting this Handbook together, mainly from the other members of the working group who gave advice and suggestions as well as contributing text. They were: Phil Gay, Michael Henshaw, Ron Warford, Frank Lewis (and initially Paul Seaman). John Wells reviewed the glossary. Frank Lewis and Fred Bone undertook the arduous tasks of proof reading. Bernard Stone provided some of the drawings and some were obtained from other Central Council publications. Yvonne Hall drew all the cartoons. Bob Smith reviewed the pilot copy, and eight tower bands around the country lived with it and fed back comments. Any mistakes that remain are probably mine.

Compiling this Handbook has been a fascinating if arduous task. I hope you will find the result both useful and stimulating.

John Harrison, November 1997

Preface to online version

The Internet became more prominent after the book was published, and I realised that its content would be ideal on the Web. When the printed version was discontinued I looked at how best to put it on the web. A 400 page PDF download didn't seem sensible but converting it to a website (115 inter-linked pages) would be a huge task unless I could automate a lot of the conversion. The following year I put the Glossary  (section 15) online – initially without the diagrams, but I added them in 2016. That took a lot of work, and since converting the rest would be an even bigger job it remained on the back burner. In 2018 I took the plunge. It wasn't straight forward, and despite automating many of the steps, still needed a lot of manual intervention. Having started I kept going – burning up far more hours than originally intended.

The book used quite complex layout to fit the text and pictures on the page, but for the website the flow is more natural, and should adapt automatically to suit the browser. I incorporated most of the figure captions into the main text (with a few minor wording changes).

I haven't updated the content, but I might consider doing so in future.

It is quite possible there are some errors from the conversion process, so if you find any please let me know and I will correct them, See my contact details .

John Harrison, March 2018

Go to Contents 

See full list of questions 

Currently hosted on