Centenary of the First peal of
Yorkshire Surprise Major


Compiled by David J Herschell

The Bell News and Ringers’ Record Saturday February 28, 1903

  The following report of the FIRST PEAL of YORKSHIRE SURPRISE MAJOR that had recently been rung at Ranmoor, Sheffield, Yorkshire, was published:

““It is a long lane that has no turning”. The “turning” has at last come in the ‘lane’ of the chequered experiences of those who now rejoice in having rung the first peal of Yorkshire Surprise. Perhaps a brief description of those experiences will not be uninteresting to the Exercise. Advantage was taken of the meeting of the Sheffield and District Society at Chesterfield in January 1901 to commence practising the method. The start was encouraging. A few succeeding practices revealed those who were determined to persevere, and it was found that these were scattered about over an area of at least thirty miles. Under such a circumstance to meet oftener was impossible; in fact, though the arrangements to do so was carried out fairly regularly up to November, it proved too great a strain on slender purses. This, co-operating with other hindrances, such as sickness, tended to cool the ardour of the band, consequently, two intervals of three months each, and one of seven took place between subsequent meetings. This brought us down to January of this year, the second anniversary of the commencement of our practices, when, John Bull-like, the band determined to have another go, with the result that at the fourth meeting they at last gained the object after which they had so long and doggedly striven.

  “Two years may seem a long time in which to learn and ring a peal in a new Surprise method; perhaps it would be for a local band of ringers who could, without inconvenience, meet at least once a week. Such, however, has not been possible with us; we have nevertheless on three occasions rung over two hours. As to the method the band can with confidence comment it to the notice of the Exercise. It is the work of Mr. Craven, is not too slow or quick a method, and can be extended to twelve bells.

  Its qualities and the figures of a lead of Major appeared in ‘The Bell News’ for weeks ending September 2nd and 9th, 1899…”
(The peal of 5184 Yorkshire Surprise Major had been rung on February 14, 1903,
in 3 hours and 6 minutes at St. John the Evangelist, Ranmoor, Sheffield, Yorkshire (tenor 15 cwt.),
for the Yorkshire Association and the Sheffield District Society.
The band had been: George Hollis 1, Rev. A. T. Beeston 2, Thomas Bettison 3, Charles Severn 4,
David Brearley 5, William Lambert 6, Arthur Craven (composer) 7, Sam Thomas (conductor) 8.
It had also been the 50th peal of W. Lambert).

End of Article


Other peals rung to celebrate the Centenary of the first peal of Yorkshire Surprise Major

WEDMORE, Som, St Mary
Fri Feb 14 2003 3h48 (30)
5184 Yorkshire S Major
Comp. A Craven

1 D John Knight
2 George W Massey
3 Jane D Johnston
4 Barrie Hendry
5 Michael Hatchett
6 Jeffrey Knipe
7 D John Hunt
8 Timothy F Collins (C)

On the 100th anniversary of the first peal of Yorkshire Surprise Major ever to be rung (at Ranmoor, Sheffield on Feb 14th, 1903). The composition used was the same as for the original peal.

To celebrate the life of Rev. David Miller, Rector of Wedmore for 25 years, who died on Feb 8th, 2003.


YORK, St Martin-le-Grand, Coney Street
Fri Feb 14 2003 2h46 (10)
5184 Yorkshire S Major
Comp. A Craven

1 Adam S Greenley
2 David G Hull (C)
3 Ian Broster
4 Dorothy J Salmon
5 Martin J Kirk
6 Trevor B Elliott
7 David A Town
8 Jennifer A Town

On the centenary of the first peal of Yorkshire Surprise Major, rung at Ranmoor, Sheffield on 14 Feb 1903, using the same composition.


MELDRETH, Cambs, Holy Trinity
Fri Feb 14 2003 2h49 (10)
5088 Yorkshire S Major
Comp. G A C John

1 Derek E Sibson (C)
2 Marion T Perryman
3 E Jane Sibson
4 John G Gipson
5 Geoffrey S Perryman
6 Ian W Davies
7 Michael H D O’Callaghan
8 Anthony D Sansom

On the 100th anniversary of the first peal of Yorkshire Surprise Major, rung at Ranmoor Feb 14th 1903.


PEBWORTH, Worcs, St Peter
Tue Feb 11 2003 2h44 (12)
5088 Yorkshire S Major
Comp. Arthur Craven

1 H T Keith Haslam
2 Andrew M Baker
3 W Stewart Gibson
4 Christopher Lees
5 Geoffrey M Brewin
6 Paul M Evans
7 Graham Nabb
8 Gerald C Hemming (C)

A 70th birthday compliment to Stewart Gibson (Jan 28th),

and to mark the 100th anniversary of the first peal of Yorkshire S Major (Feb 14th 1903) at Ranmoor, Yorks.


 First peal of Yorkshire Surprise Major marked On 14th February 1903, the first peal of Yorkshire Surprise Major was accomplished at Ranmoor.
After the success of the peals rung to mark the centenary of the first peal of Bristol two years ago, ably convened by Alan Regin, I thought it would be nice to do something to mark the centenary of Yorkshire also, and so on 14th February 2003, six ringers from Swindon were joined by two from Charlton Kings at St Mark’s, Swindon, and with John Ridley conducting one of his own compositions, an excellent peal of Yorkshire Surprise Major was scored. A few beers in the Glue Pot afterwards completed the occasion. M.E.

SWINDON, Wilts, St Mark
Fri Feb 14 2003 2h45 (11)
5152 Yorkshire S Major
Comp. J R Ridley

1 Brian Bladon
2 John C Sheppard
3 Eric Sutton
4 Hilda C Ridley
5 John R Ridley (C)
6 Desmond L Jones
7 Mark Edwards
8 Richard L Thumwood
750th peal: 8.

To mark the centenary of the first peal of Yorkshire Surprise Major.


Quarter Peal

Melbourne, Victoria. (S Paul’s Cathedral)
23 Feb, 2003
1250 Yorkshire S Major:

Margaret Callinan 1,
Parry 2,
Stephen Burr 3,
Marian Batty 4,
Deryn Griffiths 5,
Rachel Saunders 6,
Brian Pettet 7,
Andrew Chin (C) 8.

Rung to mark the 100th anniversary of the first peal of Yorkshire Surprise Major, which was rung at Ranmoor on February 14th 1903.

First of Major: 1,3.
First Major as conductor.


 to initial article of Centenary peal

  to Centenary Peal (peal 118),  14/02/2003

 to Original Peal (peal 010),  14/02/1903

 to 2nd Yorkshire Peal,  13/04/1903

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