"Around the bend":
50 years of the Welsh Colleges' Society.

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The new history of the Welsh Colleges’ Society from its inauguration in 1959 to the end of its 50th anniversary year (December 2009) is now available.

Front page of history book

Frequently asked questions:

  • Want to know what Malcolm Murphy got up to in his younger days? 
  • Has Tim Payne always looked the same? 
  • Was Percy tee total at one time? 

It consists of 125 pages devoted to the history itself with appendices setting out details of the constitutions, tours held, membership details (so everybody's name appears at least once), officers and officials, peals rung plus some personal reminiscences. A total of 270 pages with colour photos (black & white for the early years) produced as an A5 size hard back book. To keep the project manageable from a cost perspective only 100 copies have been produced.

The book will retail at £19.50 plus £3.50 postage and packing. For more information, email orders@welshcolleges.org.uk

Society History

The inaugural meeting of the University of Wales Society was held on the 19 February 1959 in a car travelling at 60mph between Port Talbot and Swansea following a successful peal attempt at Aberavon. Although this peal was claimed as the ‘first peal to be rung by an all University of Wales band’, the performance was credited to the Llandaff and Monmouth Diocesan Guild given it was the practice to ring peals for the local association at the time. The early rules restricted membership to ringing graduates and those students who were pursuing a degree course at one of the University Colleges at Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cardiff, Swansea or at St David’s College Lampeter. An innovation at the outset was however, to allow honorary membership to be conferred on other individuals who had contributed significantly to ringing at the University. This has benefited the Society over the years by helping to sustain its activities when there were fewer student numbers.

A major theme has been to hold regular ringing tours, primarily to provide student ringers dispersed around the Principality the opportunity to get together to practice. These tours have traditionally been very social events and thereby have attracted other ringers, many of whom were to later become honorary members. This tradition has continued until the present day. In 1975 the name of the Society was changed to the Welsh Colleges’ to broaden the membership criteria to all further education institutions in Wales.

Finding affordable accommodation has seen the Society concentrating on the use of local church and other meeting halls for ringing tours. These have varied in quality from one to five stars (as seen through gaps in the roof while lying in your sleeping bag during the night) to first class accommodation with showers and all modern conveniences. In recent years it has been noticeable that many of the older members now opt for local hotels or bed and breakfast outlets instead – if only to escape the snoring of certain members after a long session in the pub. The lock-in rather than lock-out is the norm on tours!

The Welsh Colleges’ has had a number of notable members. This has provided the opportunity to accumulate a respectable peal record over the years, allowing the WCs to be one of the few university societies able to claim a peal of Bristol Surprise Maximus rung entirely by collegiate members.

In addition to the main Society, a number of separate college societies have been established over the years to encourage local student ringing in each of the university centres. The first college society was established as the University College of Wales Society at Aberystwyth in 1961. The Cardiff Students Society followed in 1980 and more latterly there has been a collegiate society at Bangor. Although there has been a nucleus of student ringers at both Swansea and Lampeter during certain periods, it appears no formal collegiate society was ever founded at these locations.

The 50th anniversary year sees the Society in good form with its anniversary dinner being sold out months ahead of the event. The Society even has its own bottled beer which shows its confidence as it looks forward to its centenary in 50 years time.