Cornish call change compositions : Owen Borlase

An interview with Owen Borlase

Owen at St Dominic

The Fun with Bells cream tea debate rages on in this episode as host Cathy Booth’s quizzes Cornish ringer Owen Borlase –  but there’s much more to this interview than cream and jam.

Call change ringing in Cornwall is seen as an art in its own right and Owen is clearly championing the cause through his promotion of call change peals, the book he co-wrote and his success in getting this unique style of ringing recorded.

How does a call change peal work? Helpfully Owen describes the maths involved in very simple terms and explains to Cathy how he goes about composing some of the call change peals that feature in the book.

And if you’re the competitive kind they have it all in Cornwall  – rounds competitions, call change competitions and method ringing competitions. So if you’re an up-country ringer why not travel south to find out more!

About Owen Borlase

Owen in action on East Redford tenor

Owen was born in 1985 and began ringing church bells aged 9. He was taught at St Dominic, his home tower by his father and Robin Woods. He quickly became confident in rising, falling and Call Change ringing and experienced different styles in various towers as he went around the area with his father.

Owen’s interest continued into method ringing at Pillaton under the guidance of Richard & Maire Warwick. His Dad then set him the challenge of learning to call Call Changes without a script. Once proficient another ringer gave him a book called “Call Change 120’s for six bell towers”, so he had to learn one for a special occasion.

Over the last 17 years Owen has been studying Call Change composition and how to produce the true extent on five. He has now produced lots of compositions for the extent on five and reasonable lengths on higher numbers. This culminated in 2010 co-writing a book called “Ringing Down ‘Ere” with John Purdey.

Owen also wrote a letter to the RW asking why this style of ringing, Call Change Peals, should not be recognised. The answer was “there is no real reason why they shouldn’t”, so now they are recorded. As already discussed learning method ringing has helped him to compose ‘true’ Call Change Peals.


Top five takeaways

  • There’s room in bell ringing for all sorts of skills – if maths is your thing have you thought about having a go at composing?
  • Touches, quarter peals and peals can be proved to be true using ringing software
  • You can find all the information you need about ringing in Cornwall at the Truro Diocesan Guild of Ringers website
  • Fancy a copy of the book – it’s called ‘Ringing Down ‘Ere’ by John A Purdey and Owen J Borlase
  • Walking, canal boats and helicopters – there are lots of ways to get out and about to explore those remote towers

Ask the expert

Pip Penney answered the following questions in this episode:

  • Anne: “When you’re faced with the uncertainty of ringing a bell you’ve never rung before and when you take hold, are there any tips for working out where your hands need to be on the tail end and how firm your initial pull off should be?”
  • Mike: “I have seen some experienced ringers use white powder on their hands to help their grip. What is the white powder? Does it actually help? Doesn’t it make the sallies sticky?”

2 thoughts on “Cornish call change compositions : Owen Borlase

  1. Steve Lee says:

    This is a great podcast, thank you. My son Oliver has just rung in the south east England youth striking competition ( for Essex).

    He is struggling a bit with methods, any tips to help him learn. He is ringing three times a week.

    Thanks for your hard work and please keep the episodes coming.

  2. The Fun with Bells podcast says:

    Thanks for the lovely feedback. I will ask Pip your question in a future episode.

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