A brief history of the YACR
Following a series of quarterly ringing meetings held in the early 1870’s a meeting was held in Bradford on 2nd January 1875. After some ringing, those present adjourned to the Church Steps Inn for a business meeting and it was agreed to form a Yorkshire Society to promote ringing. Jasper Snowdon was unanimously elected to the chair for that meeting which formulated a constitution and a set of rules. These were presented to a large meeting held at Birstall on 30th October 1875, as a result of which the Yorkshire Association came into being.
In recognition of the leading part played by Snowdon, he was elected President and remained in this position until his death in 1885.
Jasper Whitfield Snowdon
Jasper Whitfield Snowdon was born in Ilkley on 18th June 1844, the second son of the Revd John Snowdon who was vicar of Ilkley, and his wife Margaret (nee Whitfield). He was educated at Rossall School – ‘a public school for the sons of Clergymen and others’ - near Fleetwood in Lancashire. He entered an engineering works as a student at the age of sixteen, and worked here for fifteen years. After two years managing an engineering works in Wakefield he went into practice with his brother William as consulting mechanical engineers in Leeds. At the time of his death in 1885 he was managing another company near Leeds.
Jasper’s father was a ringer, and Jasper learned to ring in 1861. A notebook dated February 1861 shows a lead of ‘Oxford’ written out in full with instructions for which bells to follow written out for the 3rd. In this way he committed the whole plain course to memory and rang it with ease. However, having done this he was no wiser, and his teachers informed him that “if he couldn’t see it then, he never would.” he therefore thought it best to abandon his attempt to become a change ringer.
Jasper didn’t ring during the period 1862 to 1870 but appears to have kept himself busy. In 1864, as an amusement for winter evenings, he got together an amateur troupe of negro minstrels whose inaugural performance was at Ilkley Hospital. This troupe gave around thirty performances, including one in 1868 at St. George’s Hall in Bradford for the Blind Institute. The troupe continued to perform at intervals for charitable institutions up to 1873, when they made their last appearance at Ilkley to raise money to augment and rehang the church bells.
Snowdon was also a sportsman and was well known for his skill at cricket and athletics. In 1869, and for some years after, the reports of the principal athletics meetings in the north of England were written by him. He was Honorary Secretary when the Leeds Athletic Club was first founded and under his influence Leeds sports attracted the best athletes of the day. From 1873 onwards he turned his attentions to Ilkley sports but continued to act as a referee and judge of walking at many Yorkshire meetings.
In 1870 he returned to ringing and founded the Ilkley Amateur Society. He then made rapid progress, becoming a good heavy-bell ringer and rang his first peal in 1872. In all, he rang 129 peals, his last being in 1884.
He is best-known for his ringing publications, one of which – Diagrams – was the first to draw a line through the path of a bell, becoming known as ‘ the blue line’.
He died of typhoid fever after a couple of weeks illness when he was just 41.
Jasper Snowdon is buried in Ilkley churchyard and a memorial window is in the north aisle of All Saints church.