On 3rd July 1875, at the Punch Bowl Inn on Stonegate in York, a proposal to form a county-wide society in order to ‘carry out the science of ringing to the utmost limits’ was unanimously approved by more than two hundred ringers. Thus it was that the inaugural meeting of the Yorkshire Association of Change Ringers took place on 30th October of that year at Birstall near Leeds. Under the presidency of Jasper Whitfield Snowdon a pattern of thrice yearly meetings was established, with attendances in the early years rarely dipping below three hundred. General meetings continue to be held in February, May and September and J W Snowdon is remembered by the ringing of handbells at the annual dinner each November.
By 1903, membership had reached 1000, despite the entry requirement: the ability to ring 720 changes or cover to a quarter peal. This traditional yardstick remains. However, in 1970, another class of membership, that of Associate, was created in order to welcome ringers who had yet to qualify for Full Membership.
Yorkshire is England’s largest county and, as membership grew, the need to organise the Association into districts became apparent. In 1914, four districts, Northern, Eastern, Southern and Western, were formed, and this number was increased to six in the 1970s. Today there are nine branches, some of which are as large as the territorial associations which serve entire counties elsewhere.