Hackney rings in the Olympics

Bells rang out across Hackney at 8.12 this morning to ring in the Olympic Games.

St John at Hackney, Lower Clapton Road, joined the three-minute non-stop bell ringing for the All The Bells event; devised by Turner Prize-winning artist and musician Martin Creed.

He encouraged everyone in the UK to ring a bell as loudly and quickly as possible at the same time for his piece called Work No.1197, part of the London 2012 Festival.

Ten experienced bell ringers rang all the bells at St John at Hackney’s 16th century bell tower, St Augustine’s.

Tower captain Steve Jakeman said: “That was quite an achievement because it was a work day so people were putting themselves out to do it but they wanted to.

“We normally ring for five or ten minutes, so three minutes is quite short. There’s a technical issue, which is why some churches like St Paul’s didn’t join in, because the bells have to be got into the mouth-upwards position to start. So we had to prepare for it.

“Hopefully the whole country was ringing bells and coming alive. We contributed and we even had some visitors.”

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Jenny Matthews, who lives near London Fields, stood inside the tower for the early-morning bell ringing.

“It was fantastic,” she said. “It wasn’t deafening because the bells are on a platform above the ringers but it was thrilling to be part of it.

“It was brilliant that there were young people involved as well as older people.”

All The Bells aims to set a world record for the largest number of bells rung at the same time. Any bells – from doorbells to bike bells – could join in.

Big Ben rang out 40 times over the capital to mark the event. Special permission had to be granted for it to ring out of regular sequence.