5040 Spliced Treble Dodging Minor
in 210 methods

by Stephen J Mills

Thirty-five years ago 210-spliced Minor was rung to a peal for the first time. This achievement was a ringing milestone, and deserves recognition as one of bellringing's Holy Grails. The peal comprises of a method change at every lead-end, and this fast moving brainwork is as much a challenge today as it was all those years ago. We discovered this for ourselves when we decided to try and emulate the achievement with an anniversary peal rung 35 years to the day and just three miles from the original tower. In the weeks leading up to the attempt, suffering from multi-method cramming syndrome, we began to wonder what it had been like for the original band as they rang into the unknown, pushing back the boundaries of multi-method ringing, so, to sate my curiosity I delved back into The Ringing World's back catalogue. 

The casual observer, casting their eye over multi-method peal records, could be forgiven for thinking there were only two decades-the 1930s and 1960s-when there was any interest in multi-method Minor peals. Before 1930 the greatest number rung was 35, by 1940 the record stood at 125. In the twenty years to 1960 this had increased by only one to 126, but through the 1960s there was renewed vigour and no fewer than four different bands pushing up the record number. It was on October 24th, 1969 the maximum, 210, was rung at Holme Pierrepont in Nottinghamshire. 

To narrow multi-method Minor peals to these two decades is, in fact, a gross misjudgement. Attempts to increase the maximum number have been a constant drive since the first multi-method extent was composed as far back as the 1840s! The 1930s and 1960s merely had the good fortune of the composer's bung being released as new ideas came tumbling forth. It is fair to suggest that the early days were also slightly hindered by the odd niggling disagreement over what constituted a valid peal, extent, method etc. Some things change... 

This piece cannot do justice to the fascinating path multi-Minor has trodden -the groundbreaking work put in by composers and bands in those early years and beyond. However, one man, the recently passed on Cyril Wratten, has done it for us, and I urge anyone with an interest in this subject to read his excellent "History of Spliced Minor" serialised in the Ringing Worlds of 1970. Unfortunately, Cyril gives only cursory mention to the peals rung in the 1960s, stating that recent records were "all too fresh to merit recounting in detail yet again". To finish the 'story' for myself, I have enjoyed many evenings reviewing the peal columns and Letters pages of the 1960s Ringing World, and I think a good summary might be: many multi-method peals; many many new method naming arguments; the occasional arguments over beliefs of what constituted a viable method in a multi-method peal. 

Underpinning it all, though, as different bands took a run-up and surpassed the previous record, was a warming sense of fair play, and each new record received congratulations from the previous holders. In 1967 the record stood at 148 methods. That was the year when a band from Holme Pierrepont nosed itself gently onto the scene. And what started as an attempt to ring the 73 regular Treble Bob methods to a peal, turned into an epoch-marking run. This band comprised of my parents - Brian and Christine Mills, Denis Frith, William Exton, Brian Buswell and Peter Slight on the treble. 

At that time the maximum number of methods to a treble dodging peal was only the regular 73 rung in June 1937 - coincidently the month and year of my Dad's birth. All previous higher number peals had been rung in mixed alliance and Treble dodging methods despite the fact the rules had been relaxed by the Central Council for single place and internal 5-6 changes in 1959. 

On reaching the 73, the band evidently decided they were having far too much fun to just stop, and with varying degrees of success pushed on up to 101 methods. It was at this point that a crucial event occurred. One member of the band, Brian Buswell, could no longer make the peal meets due to work commitments. Naturally, peals such as these, in days such as those, didn't have easily attainable substitutes. Indeed, looking through old issues of The Ringing Worlds, becoming familiar with many bands I will never know, has made me appreciate the differences of peal ringing today and yesteryear. As each attempt for the record was embarked upon I can imagine the thrill that must have come from a set group of people meeting regularly with a distant goal. Even more impressive are the peals from the 1930s and before, where new records were, in the main, rung by locals at a tower that had the good fortune of a composer, conductor and a capable band. Nowadays with private and public transport able to whisk us to any corner of the British Isles at will it seems we have lost something of that old romance. 

I don't know whether the five remaining members of the Holme Pierrepont band were looking for a new sixth to recommence their campaign, but in my Dad's write-up he states they had a "stroke of luck" when they met Simon Humphrey at the final of the Crawford Cup, the Southwell Guild's hotly contested 6-bell competition. Simon obviously agreed to fill the vacancy, and with that, they started again. Although it was evidently only a brief overview, as they didn't seem to bother ringing any peals, 41, 67, 98 and 106 spliced all provided early drinking before they eventually scored the 106. 

And then there's my favourite excerpt from the write-up: "We had an excellent start to the year, success in the first two attempts of 117 and 127 methods. After the first of these Simon casually mentioned he had produced two extents containing 30 methods, and thought he would be able to compose another five extents"! 

I don't know if there were any 30-method extents around at the time, but this has got to be one of the most smashingly understated ringing pub moments. It must have been an incredible thrill as the last obstruction for the composer fell, and for the first time a band could see their way to a peal of Minor with the ultimate number of methods. 

With Simon's composing cramming them in, Cyril Wratten and Derek Sibson checking them out, new methods spilled into 30 method extents - and nearly all the villages of Nottinghamshire got a method named after them! With unstoppable force they churned out peals of 155 (a new record for methods to a peal), 179 and 198 methods, before the jackpot of the 210. In keeping with their understated approach, unlike the record breaking bands before them, there was no publishing of the composition, no picture in The Ringing World and I dare say the write-up had to be dragged out of them since it appears some six months after the peal was rung. This lack of published information has made trying to follow the steps of this band a tricky process. For the anniversary attempt, I wanted us to try to recreate the original attempt as much as possible, to match their peal in every detail - the order of extents, naming conventions etc. I never realised it was going to be so difficult. 

I don't know if they wanted to remain mysterious intentionally, but all the remaining members of that Holme Pierrepont band have proved difficult to crack. I have spoken with every member of the band, and not one had a copy of the composition - I must confess I was rather hoping Simon might have come up trumps on this. Also, none of them can really remember exactly how they rang it. A good start then! It was only when I spent an evening going through my Dad's papers that I thought I'd got lucky. I found a piece of paper in his 1970 diary, it had 210 names in seven columns and 30 rows - surely this had to be it. However, closer inspection revealed a naming convention that I still yet haven't been able to fully fathom. Eventually, with half-baked Sherlock Holmes-style deduction I cross referenced this paper with the published peal, made a couple of assumptions, and then by harnessing the power of a modern PA-RISC processor, I was able to 'crunch' a solution that rang a true peal. We were up and running. 

With the date set and composition ready, it was simply a case of assembling a band. Luckily ringing 210 Minor as a one-off was a daft enough challenge, and sure enough we managed to assemble a daft enough band - even with the addition of a band original - Mum - on the treble for her comeback 210! The peal was scored at the first attempt. A fine achievement when compared with the mighty run-up of the original, which took in 47 attempts over two years, scoring just 14 of them. Special mention must go to Alex Byrne and David Hull who only received the methods with a month to go, and rang the peal at "first blows". I think this is just another example of how far and fast ringing is still progressing and it underlines the words of Jasper Snowden as recorded in Cyril Wratten's History articles: "One generation of ringers so quickly succeeds another that in many cases the performances accomplished in one generation are lost sight of by the next." 

Luckily the 210, like the extent of Major, is an achievement that can never be "lost sight of", and indeed its neatness means, whilst a ringing milestone, it will also always be a yardstick and challenge for any future bands wanting to indulge in the brain ache first featured in these columns 35 years ago!

 

The Original Peal

Southwell and Nottingham Diocesan Guild

Holme Pierrepont
St Edmund
Friday 24 Oct 1969 2h38 (11)

A Peal of 5040 Spliced Treble Bob Minor

Comprising 210 methods in the following seven extents:  (1) Costock, Beckingham, Saundby, Scaftworth, Bramcote, Leverton, Cottam, Treswell, Stokeham, Grassthorpe, Mattersey, Cossall, Torworth, Elkesley, Gringley  Bagthorpe, Wiseton, Hayton, Fledborough, Rainsworth, and Elton Surprise, Finningley, Stockwith, Wysall,  Baton, Misterton, Walkeringham, Sibthorpe, Ratcliffe and  Widmerpool Delight (30 methods); (2) Spalding, Retford, Minehead, Dronfield, Purleigh, Quendon, Lincoln,  Coldstream, Redbourne, Euston, Archway, Bloomsbury,  Kenwood, St Pancras, Highbury, Scarrington, Stoke-Bardolph, Aslockton, Woodborough, Syerston, and Cotham Surprise, Beeston, Peveril, Melandra, Leasowe,  Tollersbury, Middlesex, Besthorpe, Shelton, and Hawkesworth Delight (30 methods); (3) Staveley, Selbv, March  Boston, East Bridgford, North Muskham, Wath, Carisbrooke, Hitcham, Papplewick, Thoroton, Scrooby, Bole,  Wellow, Thorpe, Walesby, Askham, and East Leake  Delight,  Caythorpe,  Perlthorpe,  Hockerton,  Kigull,  Wigsley,  Thorney, Winkburn,  Maplebeck, Eakring, Willoughby on the Wolds, Gedling, and Granbv Surprise  (30 methods);  (4)  Skipton,  Chepstow,  Fotheringay,  Baimoral, Danbury, Hatherop, Staythorpe, Upton, and  Oxton Delight, Bilsthorpe, Halloughton, Smithfield,  Bleasby,  Calverton,  Epperston,  Cromwell,  Kneeton,  Flintham, Lambley, Darlton, Weston, Littleborough,  Edingley, Halam, Habblesthorpe, Gonalston, Hoveringham, Wakefield, Monsal and Stanwell Surprise (30  methods); (5) Knutsford, Rostherne, Bogedone, Wilmslow, Stisted, Pebmarsh, Whatton in the Vale, Staines,  Orston, Gunthorpe, Thurgarton, Kirton, Egmanton,  Boughton, Ollerton, Ompton, Kneesall, and Kersall  Delight, Hatfield, Kedcar, Appleby, Beighton, Pattiswick, Terling, Holloway, Pentonville, Brixton, Wandsworth, Soho, and Waterloo Surprise (30 methods); (6) Edwinstowe, Cuckney, Cotgrave, Collingham, Everton, Laxton, Misson, Mansfield Woodhouse, Ravenshead, Stapleford, Sturton Ie Steeple, Shireoaks, Selston, Kilvington, NorthWheatley, Nuthall, Alverton, Ossington, Owthorpe, Normanton on the Wolds, Plumtree, Keyworth, Stanton on the Wolds, Bevercotes, Carburton, West Drayton, and West Markham Surprise, Cropwell Butler, Tollerton, and Tithby Delight (30 methods); (7) Thorne, Ripley, Rhyl, Broomfield, Luton, Fyfield, Bunny, Barton in Fabis, Babworth, Averham, Clayworth, Flawborough, Westminster, Allendale, Fryerning, Bathley, Brough, Bothamsall, Screveton, Burton Joyce, and Car Colston Surprise, Holbeck, Clipston, Blidworth, Newstead, Linby, Brinsley, London Delight, Hadfield, and Holme Pierrepont Delight (30 methods); with 209 changes of method. 

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

Peter A Slight

Christine L J Mills

Simon Humphrey

William L Exton

Denis A Frith

R Brian Mills

Conducted by R Brian Mills.

The greatest number of Methods yet rung to a peal, and the maximum possible in seven extents of Treble Bob Minor. All extents by Simon Humphrey. 

 

The Anniversary Peal

Southwell and Nottingham Diocesan Guild

Shelford
SS Peter and Paul
Sunday 24 Oct 2004 2h45 (12)

A Peal of 5040 Spliced Treble Dodging Minor

(210m: (1) Lincoln S, Euston S, Besthorpe D, Spalding S, Woodborough S, Archway S, Beeston D, Melandra D, Retford S, Scarrington S, Bloomsbury S, Kenwood S, Leasowe D, Minehead S, Syerston S, St Pancras S, Shelton D, Peveril D, Bakewell S, Purleigh S, Highbury S, Coldstream S, Tollesbury D, Stoke Bardolph S, Cotham S, Redbourn S, Middlesex D, Hawksworth D, Aslockton S, Quendon S; (2) Staveley D, Papplewick D, Willoughby-on-the-Wolds S, Thoroton D, Caythorpe S, Selby D, Winkburn S, March D, Scrooby D, Gedling S, Walesby D, Wath D, Perlethorpe S, Bole D, Granby S, Askham D, Maplebeck S, Boston D, Wellow D, Hockerton, East Bridgford D, Thorpe D, Kigull S, Carisbrooke D, Wigsley S, North Muskham D, Eakring S, East Leake D, Hitcham D, Thorney S; (3) Scaftworth S, Fledborough S, Bramcote S, Sibthorpe D, Costock S, Bagthorpe S, Wysall D, Grassthorpe S, Eaton D, Beckingham S, Wiseton S, Rainworth S, Leverton S, Finningley D, Mattersey S, Cottam S, Ratcliffe D, Cossall S, Stockwith D, Torworth S, Treswell S, EIton S, Hayton S, Misterton D, Elkesley S, Stokeham S, Walkeringham D, Saundby S, Widmerpool D, Gringley S; (4) Edwinstowe S, Owthorpe S, Cropwell-Butler D, Sturton-le-Steeple S, Carburton S, Normanton-on-the-Wolds, Nuthall S, Mansfield Woodhouse S, Stapleford S, West Drayton S, Cuckney S, Alverton S, Tithby D, Shireoaks S, Cotgrave S, Ossington S, Plumtree S, Selston S, Misson S, Collingham S, West Markham S, Keyworth S, Tollerton D, Ravenshead S, Everton S, Stanton-on-the- Wolds S, Bevercotes S, Kilvington S, North Wheatley S, Laxton S; 
(5) Skipton D, Cawthorne S, Bilsthorpe S, Habblesthorpe S, Staythorpe D, Littleborough S, Halloughton S, Cromwell S, Kneeton S, Upton D, Chepstow D, Smithfield S, Bleasby S, Flintham S, Fotheringay D, Edingley S, Calverton S, Gonalston S, Lambley S, Balmoral D, Oxton D, Epperstone S, Monsal S, Darlton S, Danbury D, Halam S, Stanwell S, Weston S, Hoveringham S, Hatherop D; (6) Knutsford D, Rostherne D, Holloway S, Hatfield S, Whatton-in-the-Vale D, Pentonville S, Bogedone D, Redcar S, Strines D, Gunthorpe D, Ompton D, Wilmslow D, Appleby S, Brixton S, Thurgaton D, Wandsworth S, Stisted D, Beighton S, Kirton D, Egmanton D, Pebmarsh D, Kneesall D, Pattiswick S, Terling S, Boughton D, Soho S, Kersall D, Waterloo S, Ollerton D, Orston D; (7) Thorne S, Bunny S, Barton-in-Fabis S, Holbeck D, Clipston D, Ripley S, Westminster S, London D, Blidworth D, Screveton S, Rhyl S, Allendale S, Babworth S, Newstead D, Bathley S, Luton S, Averham S, Hadfield D, Brough S, Broomfield S, Burton Joyce S, Clayworth S, Fryerning S, Bothamsall S, Linby D, Car Colston S, Flawborough S, Holme Pierrepont D, Brinsley D, Fyfield S; 209 changes of method)

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

Christine L J Mills

Stephen J Mills

David J Pipe

Alex F Byrne

David G Hull

Andrew B Mills

Conducted by Stephen J Mills.

To mark the 35th Anniversary, this day, of the first peal of 210 Spliced Treble Dodging Minor.

 

The Compositions used for both peals

720 Spliced Minor (30 methods) by Simon Humphrey

23456 Lincoln S
56342 Euston S
42635 Besthorpe D
35264 Spalding S
62453 Woodborough S
53246 Archway S
46325 Beeston D
25634 Melandra D
34562 Retford S
65243 Scarrington S
42356 Bloomsbury S
56234 Kenwood S
34625 Leasowe D
25463 Minehead S
64352 Syerston S
52436 St Pancras S
36245 Shelton D
45623 Peveril D
23564 Bakewell S
65432 Purleigh S
34256 Highbury S
56423 Coldstream S
23645 Tollesbury D
45362 Stoke Bardolph S
63254 Cotham S
54326 Redbourn S
26435 Middlesex D
35642 Hawksworth D
42563 Aslockton S
65324 Quendon S
----- 
23456 


24 Archway, Aslockton, Bakewell, Beeston, Besthorpe, Bloomsbury, Coldstream, Cotham, Euston, Hawksworth, Highbury, Kenwood, Leasowe, Lincoln, Melandra, Middlesex, Minehead, Peveril, Purleigh, Quendon, Redbourn, Retford, Scarrington, Shelton, Spalding, St Pancras, Stoke Bardolph, Syerston, Tollesbury, Woodborough.
29 com.
720 Spliced Minor (30 methods) by Simon Humphrey

23456 Staveley D
34625 Papplewick D
56234 Willoughby-on-the-Wolds S
62453 Thoroton D
34562 Caythorpe S
45236 Selby D
52643 Winkburn S
26354 March D
63425 Scrooby D
54263 Gedling S
42356 Walesby D
23645 Wath D
56423 Perlethorpe S
64352 Bole D
23564 Granby S
35426 Askham D
54632 Maplebeck S
46253 Boston D
62345 Wellow D
53462 Hockerton S
34256 East Bridgford D
42635 Thorpe D
56342 Kigull S
63254 Carisbrooke D
42563 Wigsley S
25346 North Muskham D
53624 Eakring S
36452 East Leake D
64235 Hitcham D
52364 Thorney S
----- 
23456 


24 Askham, Bole, Boston, Carisbrooke, Caythorpe, Eakring, East Bridgford, East Leake, Gedling, Granby, Hitcham, Hockerton, Kigull, Maplebeck, March, North Muskham, Papplewick, Perlethorpe, Scrooby, Selby, Staveley, Thorney, Thoroton, Thorpe, Walesby, Wath, Wellow, Wigsley, Willoughby-on-the-Wolds, Winkburn.
29 com.
720 Spliced Minor (30 methods)
by Simon Humphrey

23456 Scaftworth S
64523 Fledborough S
35264 Bramcote S
42635 Sibthorpe D
26543 Costock S
35426 Bagthorpe S
64235 Wysall D
42563 Grassthorpe S
35642 Eaton D
56234 Beckingham S
42356 Wiseton S
63542 Rainworth S
25463 Leverton S
34625 Finningley D
46532 Mattersey S
25346 Cottam S
63425 Ratcliffe D
34562 Cossall S
25634 Stockwith D
56423 Torworth S
34256 Treswell S
62534 Elton S
45362 Hayton S
23645 Misterton D
36524 Elkesley S
45236 Stokeham S
62345 Walkeringham D
23564 Saundby S
45623 Widmerpool D
56342 Gringley S
----- 
23456 


24 Bagthorpe, Beckingham, Bramcote, Cossall, Costock, Cottam, Eaton, Elkesley, Elton, Finningley, Fledborough, Grassthorpe, Gringley, Hayton, Leverton, Mattersey, Misterton, Rainworth, Ratcliffe, Saundby, Scaftworth, Sibthorpe, Stockwith, Stokeham, Torworth, Treswell, Walkeringham, Widmerpool, Wiseton, Wysall.
29 com.
720 Spliced Minor (30 methods) by Simon Humphrey

23456 Edwinstowe S
42563 Owthorpe S
54632 Cropwell Butler D
65324 Sturton-le- Steeple S
36452 Carburton S
43526 Normanton-on-the-Wolds S
54263 Nuthall S
25634 Mansfield Woodhouse S
62453 Stapleford S
46325 West Drayton S
34256 Cuckney S
23564 Alverton S
52643 Tithby D
65432 Shireoaks S
46253 Cotgrave S
24536 Ossington S
52364 Plumtree S
35642 Selston S
63254 Misson S
26435 Collingham S
42356 West Markham S
34562 Keyworth S
53624 Tollerton D
65243 Ravenshead S
26354 Everton S
32546 Stanton-on-the-Wolds S
53462 Bevercotes S
45623 Kilvington S
64352 North Wheatley S
36245 Laxton S
----- 
23456 

24 Alverton, Bevercotes, Carburton, Collingham, Cotgrave, Cropwell Butler, Cuckney, Edwinstowe, Everton, Keyworth, Kilvington, Laxton, Mansfield Woodhouse, Misson, Normanton-on-the-Wolds, North Wheatley, Nuthall, Ossington, Owthorpe, Plumtree, Ravenshead, Selston, Shireoaks, Stanton-on-the-Wolds, Stapleford, Sturton-le-Steeple, Tithby, Tollerton, West Drayton, West Markham.
29 com.
720 Spliced Minor (30 methods) by Simon Humphrey

23456 Skipton D
56342 Cawthorne S
32465 Bilsthorpe S
45623 Habblesthorpe S
63254 Staythorpe D
54326 Littleborough S
36245 Halloughton S
25463 Cromwell S
43652 Kneeton S
62534 Upton D
34256 Chepstow D
56423 Smithfield S
43265 Bleasby S
25634 Flintham S
64352 Fotheringay D
52436 Edingley S
46325 Calverton S
35264 Gonalston S
24653 Lambley S
63542 Balmoral D
42356 Oxton D
56234 Epperstone S
24365 Monsal S
35642 Darlton S
62453 Danbury D
53246 Halam S
26435 Stanwell S
45362 Weston S
32654 Hoveringham S
64523 Hatherop D
----- 
23456 


24 Balmoral, Bilsthorpe, Bleasby, Calverton, Cawthorne, Chepstow, Cromwell, Danbury, Darlton, Edingley, Epperstone, Flintham, Fotheringay, Gonalston, Habblesthorpe, Halam, Halloughton, Hatherop, Hoveringham, Kneeton, Lambley, Littleborough, Monsal, Oxton, Skipton, Smithfield, Stanwell, Staythorpe, Upton, Weston.
29 com.
720 Spliced Minor (30 methods) by Simon Humphrey

23456 Knutsford D
64523 Rostherne D
35264 Holloway S
46532 Hatfield S
23645 Whatton-in-the- Vale D
54326 Pentonville S
62453 Bogedone D
34562 Redcar S
26435 Strines D
53624 Gunthorpe D
42356 Ompton D
63542 Wilmslow D
25463 Appleby S
36524 Brixton S
42635 Thurgaton D
53246 Wandsworth S
64352 Stisted D
23564 Beighton S
46325 Kirton D
52643 Egmanton D
34256 Pebmarsh D
62534 Kneesall D
45362 Pattiswick S
26543 Terling S
34625 Boughton D
52436 Soho S
63254 Kersall D
42563 Waterloo S
36245 Ollerton D
54632 Orston D
----- 
23456 


24 Appleby, Beighton, Bogedone, Boughton, Brixton, Egmanton, Gunthorpe, Hatfield, Holloway, Kersall, Kirton, Kneesall, Knutsford, Ollerton, Ompton, Orston, Pattiswick, Pebmarsh, Pentonville, Redcar, Rostherne, Soho, Stisted, Strines, Terling, Thurgaton, Wandsworth, Waterloo, Whatton-in-the-Vale, Wilmslow.
29 com.
720 Spliced Minor (30 methods) by Simon Humphrey

23456 Thorne S
36245 Bunny S
64352 Barton-in-Fabis S
45623 Holbeck D
53462 Clipston D
32546 Ripley S
26354 Westminster S
65243 London D
53624 Blidworth D
34562 Screveton S
42356 Rhyl S
26435 Allendale S
63254 Babworth S
35642 Newstead D
52364 Bathley S
24536 Luton S
46253 Averham S
65432 Hadfield D
52643 Brough S
23564 Broomfield S
34256 Burton Joyce S
46325 Clayworth S
62453 Fryerning S
25634 Bothamsall S
54263 Linby D
43526 Car Colston S
36452 Flawborough S
65324 Holme Pierrepont D
54632 Brinsley D
42563 Fyfield S
----- 
23456 


24 Allendale, Averham, Babworth, Barton-in-Fabis, Bathley, Blidworth, Bothamsall, Brinsley, Broomfield, Brough, Bunny, Burton Joyce, Car Colston, Clayworth, Clipston, Flawborough, Fryerning, Fyfield, Hadfield, Holbeck, Holme Pierrepont, Linby, London, Luton, Newstead, Rhyl, Ripley, Screveton, Thorne, Westminster.
29 com.