‘Call people to the UK’: Manchester Cathedral joins nationwide bell ringing to herald start of Olympic Games

By John McDougall

Manchester joined a UK-wide mass bell-ringing this morning to celebrate the start of the Olympic Games in London.

The opening ceremony takes place at the Olympic Stadium this evening, and Manchester Cathedral joined with cathedrals and churches up and down the country in herald the start of the London 2012 Olympiad. 

The bells were rung for three minutes at 08:12 this morning in an attempt to also set a new world-record for the largest number of bells being rung simultaneously.

The idea was conceived of by Turner-prize winning artist, Martin Creed, as Work No. 1197, who told the BBC: “I was thinking of trying to make something like a sculpture or something for the Olympics, but I was thinking to look at something you have to go to the place to look at it.

“I thought that maybe if I did something with music or making a noise it could go out across the city [London], you know, and across the country.”

Ruth Mackenzie, Director of the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival, said: “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.”

MM spoke to Anthony O’Connor, Director of Fundraising and Development at Manchester Cathedral, who spoke of the success of this morning’s event and the pride the country should have in staging the Olympic Games.

Mr O’Connor said: “Obviously, the purpose of bell-ringing has traditionally been to call people to prayer, but I think the purpose of this nationwide event was to call people to our country for the Olympics.

“I think it’s really great for the country to have the eyes of the world upon us for this event, especially in these difficult times of austerity.”

Mr O’Connor also described a unique take the cathedral has to pay tribute to tonight’s opening ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, as part of Manchester’s ‘Dig the City’ horticultural event.

He said: “As part of Dig the City, we have over 40,000 flowers in various displays around the cathedral.

“One of them is in the nave of the cathedral, and depicts the opening ceremony of the games at the Olympic ceremony with loads of fireworks, but shown via a display containing thousands of flowers.

“We are very much looking forward to the start of the Olympics and anyone in the vicinity should feel free to come down and see our displays.”

For more information about ‘Dig the City’ and Manchester Cathedral visit 

Related Articles