All Saints' Kempston Bell Ringers



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James Edwin (Jim) Routledge

16th October 1941 – 1st August 2010

Age 68

 The following obituary was published in the 2010 Annual Report of the Bedfordshire Association of Church Bell Ringers (Page 43)

Jim died at home, age 68, on 1 August 2010 following a short illness caused by cancer.   He learned to ring at Wavendon, Bucks, when he was a teenager sometime in the late ’50s/early ‘60s, quite possibly following restoration of the bells in 1953 and during the incumbency of the Rev C Elliot Wigg, one time Master of the Oxford Diocesan Guild.

By the time Jim met Barbara (later to be his wife) in the late ‘50s, he was no longer ringing.   He did not return until 1975 when, following a chance conversation with his good friend Ron Freeman in The Mulberry Bush in Kempston, they discovered their common interest, and started to attend practices, subsequently joining the band, at Kempston.   Under Cliff Izzard’s leadership, there was a strong and sociable band at Kempston that Jim and Ron soon slotted into – Jim was always very keen to join the après-practice night in the Three Horseshoes at West End (otherwise known as Dennis’s, and sadly no more) where he was often “life and soul of the party”.

When the Kempston bells were rehung in 1978/79, Jim was very much part of the action, providing valuable help with dismantling of the old frame, and later with the installation and re-hanging the bells in a new frame that had been constructed at Hobkirk’s works.   Others involved in the project remember that any minor parts or equipment shortages were invariably “seen to” by Jim – it was not uncommon to find a bag of the all important missing nuts, bolts, or tools lying in the churchyard the following morning so that work could proceed without interruption – Jim would fix it, no questions asked!   It was during Jim’s time at Kempston that he persuaded Barbara and their son Andrew to learn to ring – they were taught by Clive Parrott, Cliff Izzard, and other members of the band.

Later in 1978 Jim and Ron, along with Barbara and Andrew, went to ring at Wootton where, at the time, there was no regular ringing.   Here, over a period of two or three years, they re-established a band, ensuring regular Sunday service and practice night ringing that continued for some time after they left in the early ‘80s.   By then, Jim had found other interests that consumed his spare time – mostly travelling the country providing maintenance support to son Andrew in go-carting competitions.   This effectively brought Jim’s ringing career to an end, but Barbara returned to ringing at Elstow some years later, and remains a much valued member of the band.

Jim did not ring any peals, although he was involved in at least one attempt, at Turvey, that unfortunately failed to come round after the normal time.   He rang his first quarter peal at Kempston on 8 January 1977 – rung for the establishment of the parish of the Church of the Transfiguration.   He rang at least three further quarter peals including one at Wootton, and the first quarter on the newly rehung bells at Kempston (Plain Bob Triples) on 5 August 1979.

Although Jim’s Bedfordshire ringing career was comparatively short, he made much-valued contributions and is fondly remembered by the Kempston, Wootton, and other Bedford District ringers with whom he rang.



Elstow, Beds,   Wednesday 25th August 2010

A Quarter Peal of 1260 Cambridge and Plain Bob Minor in 42 Minutes

1   Margaret Whiteley

2   Martin J Whiteley

3   Richard J Hillson

4   Derek A Hammond

5   Clifford W Izzard

6   Stephen H Stanford (C)

In thanksgiving for the life of James Edwin (Jim) Routledge, one time Kempston and Wootton ringer, rung half-muffled immediately following his funeral service by members of the Kempston practice night band