The Inn Ringers have enjoyed enormous success during their time together, in nearly 40 years they have gained a well deserved reputation for being one of the top handbell orchestras in the country.
The team was formed back in February 1977 in a room above the Red Lion public house in Stone, Staffordshire. The first five months were spent putting together a repertoire to perform for their first performance, a rally devoted to handbell ringing, ‘The Randwick Festival of Handbell Music’ held in Stroud, Gloucestershire in July 1977. A handbell journal reported on the event and commented ‘The Inn Ringers are definitely a team to look out for in the future, they gave an impressive debut performance’.
1978 saw several fairly low key concert appearances leading up to the main event of that year, a concert with the Cardiff Male Voice Choir. The concert was one of the highlights of that years Stone Festival Week. The following year The Inn Ringers staged the first of their own concerts (Sept ’79) with their guests The Stonefield Singers. In more recent years The Inn Ringers concerts in Stone have become something of an annual event.
It is concert that The Inn Ringers display their true versatility. The list of venues they have appeared at over the years is as diverse as the range of music they perform. They have appeared at local village halls, city cathedrals as well as some of the most prestigious entertainment halls in the country including Colston Hall Bristol, Free Trade Hall Manchester, Civic Hall Wolverhampton, Festival Theatre Corby, Trentham Gardens Ballroom, Kings Hall Stoke-on-Trent, Liverpool University and the Victoria Hall Hanley (Stoke-on-Trent).
In 1996 The Inn Ringers recorded their first album entitled ‘Ring Those Bells’. The album is a collection of the team’s most popular concert pieces ranging from the William Tell and Carmen overtures to classic marches such as Radetzky March, On Parade and Liberty Bell. The album selection also includes popular tunes like Big Spender, American Patrol and Lara’s Theme. To celebrate the team’s 25th anniversary in 2002 the album was re-released on CD.
2006 will see the team back in the recording studio to record an album which will include pieces added to their concert repertoire over the last few years plus a selection of items from their Christmas programme. The team filmed several tracks from their album for Central television - these were shown at the end of each news programme in the week Christmas finishing on Christmas Eve.
Over the years the team have made many appearances on BBC Radio Stoke, giving both live and pre-recorded performances as well as countless live interviews to promote their various activities. The Inn Ringers have also appeared on television, being featured on ‘Central News’ and ‘Central News Week’ both for Central TV.
For twenty five years The Inn Ringers actively supported the Handbell Ringers of Great Britain (HRGB) – an organisation set up to promote the art of handbell ringing. The team participated in many HRGB rallies both regional and national events and the team have staged the West Midland Regional Handbell rally on three occasions. The team have also had the honour of appearing in several of the annual HRGB Concerts which are staged following a national rally.
The Inn Ringers were instrumental in setting up an organisation to bring together handbell teams from across the Midlands region – this organisation ‘The Heart of England Handbell Society’ was set up in October 2006. The Inn Ringers have organised several events and concerts for the society.
The Inn Ringers have been regular performers in the Stone Town Mayor’s annual charity concerts and have appeared in many local music festivals across North Staffordshire. For many years several members of the team have performed a selection of Christmas Carols, demonstrating the ‘four-in-hand’ style of ringing at the Victorian Christmas Evenings at the Gladstone Pottery Museum, Longton, Stoke-on-Trent. Over the years The Inn Ringers concert appearances have helped local charities and fund raising organisations raise thousands of pounds for their respective good causes.
The main highlight of recent years was an appearance at the Victoria Hall, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, when the team were the guests of the Biddulph Male Voice Choir taking part in their annual Christmas concert (Dec. 2001).
In 2008 the team were invited to appear at the Barbican Centre in London. It was a special Christmas concert production staged at the prestigious venue with Jarvis Cocker topping the bill. The Inn Ringers had the pleasure of opening the concert in front of a sell out audience of 2,000.
In August 2012 the Inn Ringers recorded a version of the TV theme for 'James May's Man Lab'. The team recorded their version of the theme tune - which was written by James May himself - at the Man Lab TV studio in London. The programme featuring the team is due to be broadcast in the Spring 2013
The Inn Ringers have 116 bells made by the Malmark Foundry in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, USA. The foundry has a visitor’s centre where specially recorded performances of Stone Handbell Ringers are played on video screens to the visitors to the centre. The video recording was made during a special recording session in 1997.
Playing is accomplished with twelve ringers in three sections; five in the lead section, four in rhythm and three in the bass. The Inn Ringers combine the skill of the ringers, the versatility of the bells and the talents of their musical director to deform a vast and varied repertoire which have entertained their audiences for almost forty years.