ALL THE BELLS: The First Day of the London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games
This unique London 2012 Festival commission is one of the festival’s biggest nationwide community projects. It offered everyone in the UK the amazing opportunity to be part of a work by a Turner Prize-winning artist and of the historic celebrations for London 2012.
Footage from the Big Ben moment is available on the Footage Library at the london2012.com media centre. Registration is required prior to access.
Photographs from Big Ben and HMS Belfast are available from Getty Images.
From the most westerly church in Britain, on the Isles of Scilly, to the northernmost inhabited house in Britain, on the Shetland Islands, bells were rung in celebration.
All four Parliaments in the UK; The National Assembly for Wales, The Northern Ireland Assembly, the Scottish Parliament and the House of Commons rang in unison.
British Embassies around the world joined in, from Beijing to Botswana, and a chorus of rickshaw bells in Bangladesh.
Three hundred children rang bells on HMS Belfast, which fired its cannons, while the ships of the Royal Navy and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary across the world rang their bells.
St Alban’s Cathedral played to the theme of Chariots of Fire while St Columb’s Cathedral and St Eugene’s Cathedral in Derry-Londonderry rang bells together.
All across the world, tens of thousands of people rang in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Martin Creed’s Work No. 1197: All the bells in a country rung as quickly and as loudly as possible for three minutes, in which everyone in the UK was welcome to take part, was commissioned to celebrate the first day of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Thousands of individuals, communities and organisations – from enthusiastic children with hand bells, bicycle bells and doorbells to experienced change-ringing experts – got involved by registering at www.allthebells.com
Ruth Mackenzie, Director, Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival, said: ‘The commission shows the Festival’s commitment to world-class artists and to the values of participation. Martin Creed’s wonderful idea gets everyone involved in the opening day of the Games not just as an audience but as an integral part of the work.’
Before the event, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, urged the public to take part, saying: ‘This Friday at 08.12 I wholeheartedly urge people up and down the land to help create a joyous and noisy prelude to what is set to be an historic day. Whether you’ve got a bicycle bell or something much grander, this is an opportunity to mark a once in a lifetime occasion. This is wonderfully innovative project and I am delighted to support it.’
Some of the locations and organisations whose imagination was captured by the project include Big Ben, The Royal Navy and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, The British Army, The RAF, the National Trust, The Ancient and Honourable Guild of Town Criers, the National Theatre, the Church of England, the Arts Council and Creative Scotland, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, The National Football Museum, The Sports Heritage Network, Discovering Places, The Churches Conservation Trust, the Mayor of London, the Archbishop of Westminster, Dame Evelyn Glennie, Open Morris, The British Federation of Youth Marching Band Organisations, The Girl Guides Association, The Royal British Legion, the Women’s Institute and many more.
All The Bells was broadcast by the BBC to a live audience of over 10 million people across the UK on TV, radio and online – including BBC Breakfast, BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC local radio stations and BBC live sites.
Bell ringing highlights included:
• Big Ben, the hour bell of the Palace of Westminster, chimed more than 40 times from 08:12AM – 08:15AM to ring in the Olympic Games. This was a historic occasion for one of the world’s most famous bells, as it was the first time that the strike of Big Ben had been rung outside its regular schedule since 15 February 1952, when it tolled every minute for 56 strokes from 09:30AM for the funeral of King George VI.
• Three hundred children rang bells on HMS Belfast, which fired its cannons in a countdown to 08:12.
• The Royal Navy and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary participated across the UK and overseas with as many ships, shore bases and naval establishments as possible, including HMS Bulwark and RFA Mounts Bay in Weymouth, HMS Ocean inGreenwich and HMS Alliance in Gosport.
• All four Parliaments in the UK; The National Assembly for Wales, The Northern Ireland Assembly, the Scottish Parliament and the House of Commons rang in unison.
• British Embassies around the world joined in, including the British Embassy in Beijing, which rang a bell cast to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria and theBritish Embassy in Berlin, which rang a bell of the tower next to the city’s Olympic Stadium. Outside the British Embassy in Bangladesh they rang rickshaw bells and inBotswana children rang cow bells.
• Foreign & Commonwealth Office posts in Moscow, Riga, Brussels, Belgrade, St Petersburg, Muscat, Colombo, Shanghai, Canberra, Melbourne, Cameroon,Pyongyang, Riyadh and Grahamstown all also took part.
• St Alban’s Cathedral decided by popular vote to play Chariots of Fire on their carillon of bells.
• In Skaw, a tiny settlement on the Shetland Island of Unst, people rang bells outsideBritain’s northernmost inhabited house.
• Six hundred Girl Guides rang bells at an Olympic Games-themed camp in the New Forest.
• In towns across Yorkshire several Town Criers organised bell-ringing events for their local communities, including Michael Wood, Three Times World Champion Town Crier, who led a bell-ringing event in Beverley, East Riding, Yorkshire with local schools.
• Over a hundred people joined The Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh for bell-ringing on the famous Scotsman Steps.
• St Columb’s Cathedral and St Eugene’s Cathedral in Derry-Londonderry rang in unison.
• Tresco Bike Store on The Isles of Scilly supplied bikes for people to ride to the most Westerly church in the UK, and ring bicycle bells alongside the church bells.
• A research team from the British Antarctic Survey at Rothera station in Antarctica rang bells to join the London 2012 celebrations.
• In Coventry hundreds of cyclists rang bicycle bells in front of the BBC Live Site. TheCoventry Transport Museum joined in with historic bikes with bells including penny farthings, and the Godiva Awakes ‘Cyclopedia’ with dozens of bike bells on one vehicle.
• Cheddar Gorge echoed with the sound of the U3A Handbell Ringers.
• In a remote part of Aberystwyth, Wales, a local church invited the whole parish and four local schools within a 15-mile radius to join them for bell-ringing and breakfast.
• The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago rang bells at 2.12 am local time to be part of All The Bells, along with the Rockefeller Chapel and the University of Chicago.
• 5000 people at the Cambridge Folk Festival rang bells.
• At a Jo Jingles session at Hadleigh Castle, near to the London 2012 Mountain Bike track, 150 under 5’s played sleigh bells.
• A number of National Trust properties rang bells, including Castle Drogo, whose Chapel Bell can be heard across the Teign Gorge on Dartmoor. At Shaw’s Corner, the home of writer and playwright George Bernard Shaw, in Hertfordshire, staff rang Shaw’s hand bell.
• Whitechapel Bell Foundry, the most famous bell foundry in the world, rang a variety of bells in their courtyard and on the pavement outside.
• The Parish of Dunkeld Handbell Ringers organised a bell-ringing procession through scenic Dunkeld in Scotland.
• The Australian Gold Coast Philharmonic Orchestra in Queensland, Australia joined in and rang bells at the start of a concert.
• The historic bells from St. Martins in the Fields, London, are now housed in the spectacular Bell Tower in Perth, Western Australia, and rang to join the celebrations.
There is also an exclusive Martin Creed ringtone available to download: Work No. 1372, which features 28 different bell sounds. The Official London 2012 Join In App also incorporates a line of Martin’s composition as a shake and play feature.