The idea of placing more than one method into an extent is a very old one. Perhaps one of the earliest attempts is to be found in the 1702 edition of Campanalogia where three methods, Oxford Treble Bob, College Pleasure and College Treble Bob followed each other in consecutive leads. Although it is impossible to produce a true 720 on this plan, "Crown Bob," as this plan was called, appears on quite a few peal boards, and although it is possible that the name may have, in some instances, been an entirely different method, there is evidence that in others it was the "Splice" of Campanalogia.
The Rev. H. Law James is sometimes credited with introducing splicing c. 1910-1911, and there seems little doubt that the James brothers were the pioneers of splicing which is true and therefore acceptable to present standards, but as early as 1880 James Platt of Saddleworth arranged a 720 in nine Treble Bob Minor methods with no less than fifteen changes of method. Some of the methods Platt used have now been lost sight of but it is difficult to see, whatever the methods used, how the arrangement could be true.
Alliance methods appeared as early as Stedman's Campanalogia of 1677 but did not receive official blessing until the Central Council's Collection of 1931 when the Rev. E. Bankes James "suggested" the plan whereby they could be spliced with Little methods. Special Alliance methods were published in the Central Council's Collection of 1961 but were of course rung before that.
The development of Spliced Minor owes much to many people, but particularly to J.W. Parker, E.H. Lewis, A.G. Driver and C.K. Lewis, the last two in particular having made great advances and produced intricate and ingenious extents. Many of the recent multi-method extents owe much to, and some have been extensions of, the extents of these people.
In the present book an attempt is made to explain the theory of Minor method splicing, the practical issues forming no part of the scheme, although of course, theoretical knowledge is always a great advantage to a practical ringer.
In some respects Minor splicing is more difficult than Major as there are no spare rows to play with; an extent must consist of 720 different rows; no more, no less. In this lies the fascination of arranging (or composing) spliced Minor.
Every ringer intending mastering the art of 6-bell splicing should possess the 1961 edition of the Central Council's Collection of Minor Methods. Fairly frequent references will be made to it in this book where it will be usually condensed as "C.C.C. 1961". He must also be prepared to make liberal use of pencil and paper. If there is any doubt as to whether two methods will splice under certain conditions, (e.g. a given number of leads with two bells fixed), it is always advisable to write out the leads in full to check that they do, in fact, fulfil the necessary requirements.
When practising splicing in the tower methods can be mixed in short touches without worrying about the "truth" of the splice, but the essence of splicing Minor methods is to produce a 720 in which there is no repetition of rows and this should be borne in mind by the theorist when arranging touches; each one should be regarded as a potential 720.
The examples and extents given here are used principally to illustrate the text, it is of course impossible to include every 720 of current or historical interest and no doubt certain ones will be looked for in vain. But with the information given, the student should be able, successfully, to analyse any spliced extent and to construct his own on similar lines. There is still plenty of scope for the enthusiastic investigator and no doubt new ways and systems of splicing still remain to be discovered.