Daniel T. Matkin

When older ringers give up active ringing for health or other reasons it is all too easy in a few years for their name to be forgotten and their achievements to fade from the memory.

Dan Matkin died on 6th March this year aged 87 years and, whilst I only rang handbells with him once, from my conversations and the all too brief association with him he certainly struck me as a very kind and considerate person. In his active ringing days he had taken part in some historic and memorable performances, formerly in the Midlands and latterly, on handbells, at his homes in Bournemouth.

Whilst waiting for others more qualified than I to put pen to paper I have been sorting through some old letters he sent me in 1987 and by extracting parts of these Dan has written with greater authority than any living person could, his own autobiography.

“I was taught to handle a tower bell about Christmas time 1917 at Solihull Parish Church, near Birmingham, and when the late Edgar C. Shepherd came home from the Army in 1918 I made my first acquaintance with handbells, and eventually rang my first peal, Plain Bob Minor ‘in hand’, on April 21st 1919 in Solihull. To further my tower ringing, I went to St. Martin’s (Bull Ring, B’ham) every Tuesday (their practice night) by train (5 old pence evening return). They had a very good tower band, and also a good handbell band, with the late Albert Walker in charge, so I was very lucky to be in such exalted company. In later years I became a member of the Sunday Service band - rang and conducted peals of Stedman Cinques there, and also peals of Stedman Cinques ‘in hand’. When I came to Bournemouth in September 1947 I had a good background in tower and handbell ringing so was able to pass it on. In the late 1948 we formed a handbell band at 26 Wellington Road, Bournemouth, to practise Spliced Plain methods and on April 12th 1949 a peal of Spliced Plain Major in 2 methods was achieved. …

I could write pages about the ‘goings on’ at Wellington Road. When we formed the band for Spliced practice we were limited to 8 bells - Mrs. Marshallsay, Roy Hurst, Bill Young and myself - but when Jimmy Daniels and Michael Best came into the band we were a 12 bell band. …

Also included were Grandsire Doubles, Triples, Caters - Stedman Doubles and Triples - Plain Bob Minor, Major, Royal and Maximus - Little Bob Major - Gainsborough Little Bob Major - Spliced Plain Major in 2 to 10 methods - Spliced Plain Royal in 3, 4 and 7 methods - Spliced Plain Maximus in 3 and 4 methods. On January 31st 1953 we rang the Grandsire Caters record, 13,139 changes, in 6 hours and 34 minutes, and on October 17th the same year rang the then Plain Bob Royal record, 15,840 changes in 8 hours and 2 minutes. …

My active ringing is, I’m afraid, finished - I have arthritis in my wrists and fingers. However, at 85 last May, I have good memories to think back on - 821 peals - 553 ‘in hand’, cond. 349 and 268 tower, cond. 81. I was Peal Recorder for the Winchester and Portsmouth Guild for 17 years - made an Hon. Life member of the Guild in 1977.”


The Ringing World No. 4142, September 14, 1990, page 878