Jack Southam RIP: 21st January 1928 – 6th November 2015
Remembering a bellringer
Jack will be remembered by the bellringers for his dedication to ringing and leadership of the North Mymms band for many years.
For many years he rang at St. Peter’s, St. Albans. He is named, along with his brother Tom, on a peal board, unusually formed in the stained glass of the north window of their ringing chamber. It commemorates the victory peal in 1945.
Jack will also be remembered for his reminiscences of his early life living with his parents in Hastings and then, his school years in St. Albans where he was evacuated, in 1940, with his school, to what was hoped was a quieter environment during the war years.
He would recount his post war experiences in the Royal Corps of Signals in the north of England and occasionally his career and travels all over the country on behalf of Marconi Instruments.
From the death of Tom Lock in 1992 until fairly recently he was also the main source of teaching new ringers. He was always the first to arrive and open the ringing chamber on Wednesday practice nights and Sunday mornings. For many years he was tower captain, secretary and steeple keeper; liaising with the Vicar on wedding ringing, corresponding with other bands wishing to ring our bells and maintaining the bells when ropes frayed or needed adjusting or if stays cracked, making new stays at first or ordering new, ready made, ones from the bell founders in later years.
With the death of Tom a set of the tower keys went missing and Jack, who had the lathe and the skill to use it, made three more sets of keys so that on the rare occasion when he was not present to open up other ringers were able to carry on without him. He also made a fully working scaled down belframe complete with string rope, with Sally, all the pulleys, slider and stay to house a small brass bell as a teaching aid.
His knowledge of ringing “methods” and calling made him the main caller for the many methods rung over the years. As the years passed and age took its toll he passed on the duties of tower secretary to Adrian Sherlock and passed on the bell maintenance and some of calling skills to others in the band.
He took more of a back seat with others taking over the calling of methods more frequently, with him suggesting alternative callings, as we progressed, to make the ringing more interesting.
His last ring in a method was on the 19th August 2015.
THE BELLSThe illustration from Dorothy Colville's North Mymms Parish and People is of bellringers at St Mary's around 1900.
Details about the 8 bells which are in the tower at North Mymms can be found on the North Mymms page of the HCACR website - from this page you can also link to the peals which have been rung at the Church.
Former Ringing Master Jack Southam provided some further details:
"The list of bells on the HCACR site omits reference to the retuning and rehanging in a new cast-iron frame in 1985 by John Taylor Ltd.
Also missing is reference to the (circa) 15th century sanctus bell. This sat for many years on the dumb-room floor until Jack Wiseman and I hung it for chiming in one of the window recesses.
At the re-hang it was moved to hang above the octave in what is essentially the old spire.
The bell weighs about 3/4 hundredweight, note Eb (but poor tone). It is unmarked except for a cross on a shoulder and one broken cannon.
I well remember the spire from when I first rang at St Mary's. It was well proportioned for the tower (definitely not a "Hertfordshire spike"). It was noted for the beautiful light green patina on its sheath and at that time could be seen from the road above the trees."
Interesting historical background can be found in: North Mymms Church - 140 Years of History - 1762-1901 - The Churchwarden's Accounts of North Mymms by H.M. Alderman
Chapter 1: Beer for the Bellringers
North Mymms - Parish and People by Dorothy Colville
Chapter 6: Silver Treasure