Cultural Olympiad / News / Sun 14 Sep 2008

Looking Back to Handover and Looking Forward to Launch

Looking Back to Handover and Looking Forward to Launch

The Cultural Olympiad



In the first round of applications for official recognition from LOCOG and the IOC, we have been successful in three of seven applications for the Inspire mark (this compares reasonably well with the rest of the regions). They are:

The Bristol Do
St Pauls, Portland Square, Bristol
27 – 28 September. 1.00 – 7.30pm
The Bristol Do is a festival of circus, games, dance and street entertainment incorporating different art and cultural forms in which everyone can take part.

B.Side (The Seaside)
B.Side (The Seaside) is a multi-media arts festival animating public spaces in Weymouth and Portland with a focus on participation by 13 to 25 years olds and recently graduated artists from across the South West region.

Anti-Bodies focuses on arts and sport and concepts of “the body”. In particular, the visual art works produced will be contrasting the particularity of the artist’s body-concept against the ideal ‘body-machine’ of the Olympic athlete, Contact Zoe Shearman at Relational on 0117924 6554 or visit (under construction).

celebrating the launch of the Cultural Olympiad
(Friday 26th September – Sunday 28th September)

There are over 40 events and activities going on across the region, which is a remarkable response. Highlights are given below, but the full list can be found on the London 2012 website by clicking on “find an event” (bottom of the page) at:

and by clicking on events here.

If you go to any of the events listed, are participating in them or organising them, then
a short report back – just a summary of what happened, the atmosphere, the numbers on the day and a memory – to add to our Olympiad “Memory Tree” would be much appreciated. Post here or send to

Do try to take in one of the 50 bandstands that will be promoting the work of young musicians between 2.00-4.00pm on Saturday 27th September across the whole region. Go to and click on the Bandstand Marathon icon to find your nearest bandstand (pass your mouse over the locations to get details).

Please also check back to the website regularly if you can as more events/information are being added on a daily basis.


•Veles e Vents in Weymouth - a spectacular outdoor event charting a daring sea journey through live performance, light, pyrotechnics and sound.
•B-Side (the seaside) - a multi-media arts festival animating public spaces in Weymouth and Portland.
•Go behind the scenes at BBC studios in Bristol, Plymouth and Southampton as they open up to the public.
•The Bandstand Marathon – over 50 simultaneous concerts on bandstands across the South West.
•Devon Dances - Get Naturally active, come and learn to dance in workshops themed to celebrate Devon’s delicious food produce.
•The International Comedy Film Festival, and Torre Abbey contemporary art in Torquay.
•The Austerity Olympics, and Wiltshire Stories in Chippenham, Wiltshire.
•Colour and passion performances and a celebration of local history in Salisbury.
•Everybody Dances and The Un Wrapped Cabaret are two dance events that will get everyone in Swindon dancing.
•Creative Juice arts experience for teenagers and a photography show of emerging local talent will be on show in Trowbridge.
•The Knights Attack! Mediaeval Poole comes alive through drama, costumes and re-enactment reliving an attack on a town in 1405 by raiders from the sea.
•The Bristol Do, a two day out door arts extravaganza in Bristol.
•Over 30 artists will be taking part in the Lyme Regis ArtsFest Artists Art Trail.
•Experience the Blitz and go behind the scenes and handle artefacts at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter.
•Leisure@Cheltenham - free cultural and sporting activities for all the family in Cheltenham.
•Family weekend of cultural activities across the City of Bath
•On your Marks, Get Set, Go! Celebrate the launch of the Cultural Olympiad with five hours of free dance activity, in the centre of Bodmin

Sunday August 24th

While Boris waved, Beckham booted and London boogied in the Mall, the South West (joined by the North West and West Midlands) marked the Handover of the Olympic flag from Beijing to London with 2 minutes noise at 4pm on Sunday 24th August.

We were ably assisted by Susie Pickering of Audiences South West who undertook the task of promoting this initiative with specialist groups (especially bell ringers) and the regional press and media.

On the day much more appears to have happened than we knew about in advance, but here is a list of the communities we know participated and the ways in which they made noise!


Bath, NE Somerset – Abbey and local Churches
Bradpole, Dorset
Broad Chalk, Wiltshire
Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire
Coaley, Nr Stroud, Gloucestershire
Downton, Nr Salisbury, Wiltshire
Exeter, Devon - Cathedral
Forthampton, Gloucestershire
Great & Little Somerford, Wiltshire
Kingston, Dorset
Leonard Stanley, Nr Stroud, Gloucestershire
Matravers, Dorset
Minehead, Somerset
Oakdale, Cornwall – St Georges
Ramsbury, Wiltshire – Holy Cross Church
Salisbury, Wiltshire – Cathedral
Sherington, Wiltshire – Church
Shirwell, North Devon
Stratton, nr Dorchester, Dorset – St Mary’s
Swanage, Dorset
Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire - Abbey
Truro Cathedral, Cornwall – Cathedral
Wareham, Dorset
Weymouth, Dorset – St Johns
Wimbourne Minster, Dorset
Wool, Dorset
Worle, Nr Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset
Worth, Dorset
Wroughton, Nr Swindon, Wiltshire

A number of towers reported back on the event including Worle, Nr Weston-Super-Mare whose band included Denis Hawkings who, at the age of 80, was born around the time of the 1928 Amsterdam Games and shared his clear memories of the last time the UK hosted the Olympics in 1948.


In addition to more traditional sources of noise, composer and sonic artist Hywel Davies was commissioned to produce a ringtone, Jumping Through Hoops. The ringtone is based on the recording of a single heart beat. Flash Mobs, a group of people simultaneously ringing their phone were heard at the Weymouth Beach Party, Dorset

Two more ringtones will be made available over the course of the coming year.


Alistair Chisholm, Dorchester Town Crier:

The Olympics and Paralympics are on their way here,
Let EVERYONE whoop, let EVERYONE cheer !
Four years of build-up – our culture to boast,
We’ve so much that’s special, we’ll be first past the post !
A legacy amazing that’ll last through the years,
With so much to treasure – as the great event nears.
So make twenty twelve the year of goodwill,
An Olympian year, for ALL a great thrill.

Abbey Bells and Rainbow Steel Band, Bath, NE Somerset
4.30pm, the Abbey ‘pealed’ the bells whilst the Rainbow Steel Band took up the call in the City Centre.

Arlington Court, North Devon
Sid Masters, a retired coachman, blew the carriage horn on the front steps of the National Trust stately home, Arlington Court. Sid also conducted two interviews to publicise this event with Lantern FM and BBC Radio Devon.

A collective 2-minute horn blast was sounded by the Mini Cooper annual rally in Bideford.

As part of the annual West Bay Day, the RNLI arranged a display and two minutes of noise from The Salt House Green at 4.30 pm.

Bristol City Centre, Avon
Millennium Square hosted a City Council party with Chinese Acrobatics, Shaolin Kung Fu and a Chinese Music Ensemble with Lion Dance performances. At 4 pm The Ambling samba band played in the town centre whilst community choirs sung in their local parks and fog horns rung across the harbour.

Cheltenham Prince of Wales Athletic Stadium, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
A junior athletics session run by the local team, Cheltenham Harriers, was followed by the formal unveiling of the Olympic flag with performances by martial arts, dance group Capoeira at 4 pm.

Devizes, Wiltshire – Oi Sambistas Samba Band
Oi Sambistas played samba in Devizes.

Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station, Lizard Peninsula, Cornwall
Supporting the ‘two minutes of noise’ initiative, BT converted the ringtone into radio waves, which was transmitted through one of Goonhilly's dishes. The celebratory ‘Olympic handover’ message will travel through space forever.

Haldon Forest Park, Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World, Devon
The Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World invited Soundz Magic, to lead a performance featuring Himalayan singing bowls and gongs creating a great sound emanating throughout Haldon Forest.

Minehead, Somerset
The RNLB run a raft race and fun day in Minehead. Carrying the flag, a lifeboat set off a maroon and church bells at 4 pm.

Plymouth City Centre
The City Pipe band marched the flag through the city centre and were met by a specially commissioned dance group performing a piece in front of the Big Screen.

Portland Quarry, Weymouth, Dorset
Dame Evelyn Glennie, percussionist, played the Portland Stones in celebration of the coming of the Olympic Games.

Redruth, Carn Brea Leisure Centre, Cornwall
An afternoon of track races, raising the Olympic flag and creating ‘two minutes of noise’ took place in Redruth, England’s most southerly point.

Swanage Pier, Dorset – Young Purbeck, Youth Samba Band
Young Purbeck, an independent youth forum, organised celebrations culminating in the flag raising ceremony and two minutes of noise performed by the Youth Samba Band.

Swindon - Wharf Green, Wiltshire
A peal of bells across the Swindon Deanery and the Town Crier ringing in the Olympics. Wharf Green hosted a ‘big screen’ showing BBC coverage from Visa London 2012.

Truro County Hall, Cornwall
The Chairman of the County Council, Doris Ansari, assisted by four young Cornish Sports Ambassadors, raised the London 2012 flag at Truro’s County Hall. Local children and their parents alongside future Cornish champions created two minutes of noise.

Yate Library, Gloucestershire
Bradley Stoke Leisure Centre offered free swimming whilst Yate Library will be played world music to celebrate the moment.


The South West hosted four big screens in four live sites: Bristol; Plymouth; Swindon and Weymouth. Showing live coverage of the Closing Ceremony and the VISA London 2012 Party in the Mall, these live sites were organised by the local councils who invited their audiences to contribute to two minutes of noise at 4 pm.


Just a few extracts from the feedback we’ve had that give a flavour of the day. Particularly like the fact that the bell ringing teams ranged from obvious beginners to those who used the occasion to try to achieve something really advanced and complex.

We made a noise at Wroughton Parish Church. We practiced 'firing' the bells and when you're not good at it, it makes an awful lot of noise.
We kept it up for five minutes.

I am delighted to be able to tell you that our quarter peal attempt at Worle this afternoon was successful.

The band rang 5 methods, one method for each of the 5 Olympic rings. The ringers involved were:
1- Treble - Jill Burtenshaw
2 - Ray Jones
3 - John Boorman
4 - Greta Cooper
5 - Denis Hawkings
6 - Jenny Spence
The quarter was conducted by Denis Hawkings who, at 80 years of age, was around at the time of the 1928 Amsterdam and who has very clear memories of the last time we hosted the Olympics in 1948.

Just to let you know that the Parish Churches Of Leonard Stanley and Coaley in Gloucestershire each rang a quarter peal ( 1260 changes which lasted for approx. 45 minutes ) commencing at 4.p.m. today to celebrate the handing over of the Olympic Flag to London.

If we are all fit and able we hope we can manage something similar for 2012, so give us plenty of notice.

On Sunday 24 August Arlington Court marked the handover of the Olympic flag to the United Kingdom with applause, a blaring carriage horn, the drumming of horse hooves, popping champagne corks and the peel of the restored stable clock bell! The newest member of the Arlington Court team has even been named to commemorate the event. Beijing is a beautiful stray cat that has recently made the property his home, he has a brand new collar and a bed in the stables, where he works in pest control.

(home of the Robert Dover Cotswold Olimpicks)
Thanks to your provision of a flag we had a very good and well attended ceremony in the Chipping Campden Town Square at 1600 yesterday.

"Robert Dover" materialised on his ghostly grey steed as you see. Our Mayor Chris Jones and the President of the Robert Dover's Games Society , the Hon Philip Smith (of the WH Smith family) did the flagraising in front of a crowd of locals and (bemused) tourists.

The flag will fly here all this week and then be retained by our Society.

It meant a lot to Chipping Campden - a small town but with a big part in Olympic history. Some folk here worry that Much Wenlock gets more recognition than us. It is fact that Pierre de Coubertin could not visit our Games in 1890 as they had been cancelled because of rowdyism the year before.

But the BOA aknowledged the Cotswold Olimpicks as "the first strirring of Britain's Olympic beginnings" in their 2012 bid, and we are ready to contribute to the build up over the next 4 years with our annual games and any other ways which might be helpful.

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