Many hundreds of hours on research were spent by the Methods Committee in fulfilling the Council's resolution of four years ago, when the Committee was asked to define an acceptable extension of a method.
The report of this Committee - the work of the Rev. K. W. H. Felstead, Messrs. H. G. Cashmore, N. Golden, C. H. Kippin and C. K. Lewis - were presented with recommendations to the Central Council meeting at Bournemouth and adopted by the Council.
The Ringing World, July 17, 1953, pages 472
The president said this matter might be very contentious. He asked members to speak briefly and to the point.
The Rev. K. W. H. Felstead said he would divide the report into three parts, one of which was not mentioned. The first was extension, consisting of ten pages. It stated the rejection by the committee of any kind of version and the acceptance only of mathematical true extension based on extension obtained from standard methods over which there was no question.
The committee organised a meeting in London at which anyone interested could attend. They had a full and frank discussion.
He would like to say on behalf of the members of the Methods Committee that there had been certain things said about their work on extension for the past two or three years - sometimes critical. He thought it was only fair to say that it was the Council who asked the committee to do it, and, secondly, they did not want the job, but having been given it, they had done their best with the results before them. He moved the adoption of the report on extension.
Mr. K. Lewis, seconding, said to a lot of people the report would be difficult to understand. Explaining terms, he said the portion in front of the treble was the front sub-section, and that behind the back sub-section; the whole made a section.
Mr. Harold Poole said last year he challenged the report on behalf of two people who had made a study of the subject. They had seen the report and they came away quite happy and thought some good would come out of it.
Mr. A. B. Peck: I should like to be assured that the five members of the committee absolutely understood the report. Frankly, I don't.
Mr. C. H. Kippin: I do (laughter).
Mr. A. D. Barker: Mr. Felstead mentioned the meeting in London. I went along and was bundled out before they started the business.
Mr. Kippin replied that Mr. Barker turned up an hour too soon. The committee had arranged to meet first.
The Hon. Secretary: I arrived a little earlier than expected and I just escaped with my life.
Mr. W. Wilson said he was prepared to provide 300 or 400 roneo copies of the report.
The meeting then voted on the method extension section of the report, which was carried.
The Rev. K. W. H. Felstead said the second subject was irregular methods and this applied to Minor methods alone. They had made an investigation and had found no reason for altering the decision of the Council made some 50 years ago. Suffice it to say, they had found there was nothing in the irregular methods that was not in the regular ones and that in many cases there were definite advantages in the regular methods in the scope of composition. Although they could not point to any particular reason for disallowing them, it was the accumulation of small points. The committee recommended that the present decision be adhered to.
Mr. C. K. Lewis seconded, for, as a Minor ringer, he said, all his early ringing was on six bells and even now he was still at heart a Minor ringer though he did sometimes venture on higher numbers.
An investigation was made into the question of Minor methods both regular and irregular and it was found that the Plain Bob lead heads and ends were the only set which were common to both seconds place and sixths place methods. For example, most Minor ringers knew that Cambridge and Primrose were identical, row for row, until the handstroke of the treble's full lead and that if one rang a plain course of each one would have rung the same changes but in a different order.
The irregular methods had not this feature and two methods in which the first lead was row for row identical until the treble's hand-stroke lead would have quite different plain courses - one for the seconds place method and one for the sixths place method. This, he considered, was the most serious defect.
"Now as to types of work. For example, if we divide the work of Treble Bob minor methods into work below and work above the treble we get 36 different works below and 14 different works above, which, when combined together, give a possible 504 methods. Of these, 147 methods have a five lead 'regular' course and 146 methods a five lead 'irregular' course. The remainder are one, two or three lead courses only. No work which is contained in any irregular method is omitted from the regular methods. For instance, you cannot ring Cambridge below and Oxford Treble Bob above and get a regular method, but you can ring Cambridge below and Kent above and get Oswald. In this connection I am willing privately to help any band who want to progress and do not know how to set about it, if they will let me have a list of the methods they know.
"As to the question of 6-5's we find that a greater proportion of the irregular methods produce 6-5's in the standard calling than do the regular methods. Eighty-one out of 146 against 53 out of 147. Finally, a scrutiny of a collection of irregular methods made by a former and honoured member of this Council, the Rev. A. T. Beeston, discloses that only about 30 irregular methods were practised and most of those in the county of broad acres.
"In my investigation I started with an open mind and endeavoured to make a case for the irregular methods if it were possible, but I feel that there is no good case for them, and unwilling as I am to prevent anyone from ringing what he pleases, I cannot help being driven to the conclusion that It would not be right for the Council to recognise lead ends other than those of Plain Bob."
Mr. C. Roberts said he thought Mr. Lewis had made an able exposition for retaining these lead ends which they knew so well. Mr. Lewis had left out the question of music. It came back to enthusiasm for good Minor methods as against reversing me bells in 5-6. He had never tried to ring any of the irregular methods because it was one of the things which was not done.
Mr. A. D. Barker said the Methods Committee appeared to have gone only on the scientific side. The Oxford Guild at its last meeting asked for the whole position to be investigated.
The Rev. K. Felstead: We were asked to go into it and this is our finding.
The resolution was carried by a large majority.
The Rev. K. Felstead said last year they did not come to a definite decision about three lead courses of Royal methods, but they did put an announcement in "The Ringing World" that it was their opinion that such methods should not be allowed in Spliced ringing because they did not get the full course of the method. He asked the Council to accept the resolution published in "The Ringing World."
Mr. F. I. Hairs seconded.
The president said there were certain Royal methods with only three leads and they could not set a full course. The Methods Committee said these should not be allowed.
Mr. C. K. Lewis reminded the meeting of a saying of Mr. Driver, that it was up to the people who did splice to keep the game clean. They were going backwards if they allowed it.
The resolution was carried.
Upon the adoption of the report Mr. A. B. Peck asked for a ruling on the peal of London Surprise Royal he had rung. According to his peal book he was credited with it, according to the Council he was not.
Mr. Felstead: You are referring to the very first peal of London Surprise Royal.
Mr. Peck: Yes.
Mr. Felstead replied that the peal rung was London Surprise Royal No. 1 Version. He rang in a peal the previous day which was London Surprise Royal No. 3 Version. There were a lot of versions and the first was Stepney.
Mr. Peck: It is entered in our peal book as London and as London it will always remain.
Mr. Felstead: The decision was that they retain their own names.
Mr. C. Roberts said London Surprise Royal had a very chequered history. Suffice it to say, Mr. Gabriel Lindoff produced some methods which came very near to the extension of the Major. The peal was rung by ten members of the Ancient Society of College Youths. The title of Stepney was suggested after a long debate for the peal, but the Ancient Society were not consulted. He thought any decision to call the peal "Stepney" could be discounted. He thought the best thing was to call it London Surprise Royal No. 1 Version.
The report was then carried.
The Ringing World, July 31, 1953, pages 504 to 505