The team was formed back in February 1977 in a room above the Red Lion public house in Stone, Staffordshire. Their 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. The Inn Ringers have now staged their own annual concerts in December for 28 consecutive years. In more recent years they have staged an annual charity concert as well raising money for the Donna Louise Trust, West Midlands Air Ambulance, Help for Heroes, St Michael’s Church Bell Restoration Appeal and Kemble Special School.
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 the Barbican London, Colston Hall Bristol, Free Trade Hall Manchester, Civic Hall Wolverhampton, Festival Theatre Corby, Trentham Gardens Ballroom, Kings Hall Stoke-on-Trent, Liverpool University, Lancaster University and the Victoria Hall Hanley (Stoke-on-Trent).
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 many events and concerts for the society.
Over the years 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 ten 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 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.
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 of that time ranging from the William Tell and Carmen overtures to classic marches such as Radetzky March, On Parade and Liberty Bell. The album selection also included 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.
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 The Inn Ringers are played on video screens to the visitors to the centre. The video recording was made during a special recording session in 1997.
The team made an appearance at the Victoria Hall, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, when they were invited to be the guests of the Biddulph Male Voice Choir, taking part in their annual Christmas concert (Dec. 2000).
2007 saw the team back in the recording studio to record an album which includes 16 Christmas pieces featured in their annual Christmas concerts. ‘Christmas with The Inn Ringers’ was recorded at Orchard Studios in Cheshire on the hottest day of the year! The team filmed seven pieces from their album with a different tune being played at the end of each ‘Central News’ programme in the run up to Christmas that year.
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 was broadcast in the Spring 2013.
Also, in 2012 they performed a version of ‘Chariots of Fire’ live in the BBC Radio Stoke studio as part of a national initiative to ring bells simultaneously across the country to celebrate the opening of the Olympic Games.
There was special concert to celebrate the team’s 40th anniversary in 2017. This occasion was also marked by the recording of new album, ‘Belissima – The Anniversary Album’. The CD was a joint project with the Alton Handbell Ringers who celebrated their 25th anniversary. The album includes 8 tracks by each team and was recorded in July 2017.
The Inn Ringers are always trying new arrangements. Recent pieces added to their repertoire include ‘Calling All Workers’, ‘Carol of the Bells’, ‘A Lover’s Concerto’, ‘RAF March Past’ and what is fast becoming an integral part of their concert appearances ‘Delilah’!
In January 2018 the team appointed a new Musical Director, Steve Holmes. Steve was one of the founder members of the Gnosall Handbell Ringers and was with the team for many years ringing the bass bells and also leading the team for a while.
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 and the versatility of the bells to perform a vast and varied repertoire which have entertained their audiences for over forty years.