Adlington Hall – 18 July 2004
The start- 25 April 1964
In autumn 1963 BOB MORTON joined AEI Automation at Booths Hall, Knutsford where he met MALCOLM MURDOCH and started attending Adlington Country Dance Club. MALCOLM had got details of Rapper and Longsword dances and was keen to give it a go.
On 25 April 1964 BOB, MALCOLM, and a Kiwi named BRUCE WILLIAMS went to Leeds to be taught the rudiments of the dance. It is this date that denotes the formation of a dance side at Adlington, as they returned full of enthusiasm and having failed to start a side at Booths Hall formed the inaugural side consisting of:
MALCOLM MURDOCH, GRAHAM SMITH, SAM WOOD,
FRED HAYWARD & BOB MORTON.
Practice went a pace, initially in the crypt of St David’s in Grove Lane Hale and then to the vestry of St Paul’s in Hale Barns. The first rapper demonstration was at the Bulls Head Hale Barns in 1964. Some confidence was gained by watching old cine film of Newbiggin Rapper (or was it Bedlington or Winlaton) and discovering that Sharp’s notation was wrong, which explained the trouble they were having with the dance.
Yorkshire Dales – 8 May 1965
Cheshire Tour – 7th June 1969
Eighteen demonstrations of rapper sword were held in 1965 including a return to the University of Leeds for a tour of the Yorkshire Dales with ANDY MORTON as the Betty and ‘SMOKEY’ MALC TOZER guesting as the Doctor. However DAVE HATTON was to make his mark as the Betty once he had stamped his strong personality on the part. DAVE DERBYSHIRE was the usual Doctor and there were a variety of musicians. RAY JOHNSON was coaxed from AEI to become the regular fiddler.
4 January 1966 was the first time the side danced in Adlington – for the Woman’s Institute. The side encouraged Adlington FDC to run a coach tour of Cheshire villages – the first was on 4 June 1966, a year that had thirty demonstrations of rapper sword. An impromptu demonstration at the Davenport Arms, Congleton on 18 June 1966 brought the house down literally – SAM WOOD kicked a load of plaster from the ceiling during a backward somersault.
In 1967 there were thirty-three rapper sword demonstrations, including trips to Congleton, Nottingham, Runcorn, Wallasey and Tilston Wakes. Here, the team were persuaded to enter a tug-of-war and won a cash prize (instantly transformed into beer) by beating the motorcycle scramblers and the young farmers. However on 28 September 1967, the team decided to extend the rapper interests to Morris and Longsword as well – the ‘Men’s Club’ was formed as a section of the renamed Adlington Folk Dance Club. They met on Tuesdays in place of the Running set group.
The Bollington Arts Festival saw the first public display of Morris Dancing and Longsword by the Adlington men on 6 June 1968. This year saw fourteen displays of a mixture of the three styles of dancing.
The hundredth display was given 1969 – probably in the Yorkshire Dales, although records are sparse. This was the year when Charles Legh of Adlington Hall gave his permission for use of the unicorn by the Adlington FDC.
Saddleworth Rushcart – 23 August 1975
REG BATTLE, PHILIP RIDGWAY, STAN CHART, J. HOUGHTON, and GRAHAM SMITH attended a meeting on 23 September 1969. In a year when there were only six displays, several ideas for continuation of the ceremonial dance were mooted and discussed due to a lack of support. The men’s club was ticking over but only meeting once a month. It was decided to invite the Adlington FDC ladies to join in order to keep the Tuesday Club meeting on a weekly basis. The side was at a low point, with only nine displays in 1970. The club was still not considered viable!
1971 saw a renaissance of the side, and we undertook sixteen displays and had a number of highlights. On 13 April 1971 we wore baldrics for the last time during a mini tour with Adlington FDC, to be replaced by green tabards with the Unicorn at our first Morris Ring at Manchester on 16 April 1971. We were taught mainly Bledington dances by Nibs Matthews, and organised our first club tour on 1 June 1971. We even broke a rapper sword in September 1971 at a demonstration for Young Wives in Cuddington.
We miss records for the next period, but know that the renaissance was short-lived as we had thirteen bookings in 1972, eleven bookings in 1973 and only seven in 1974. This was a momentous year, as we
danced Rapper sword for the last time at ICI Alderley Park. In September 1974 the Men’s section went its own way from Adlington FDG, and became the Adlington Morris Men. Our practice venue was moved from Adlington Village Hall to Poynton Folk Centre where the presence of Folk Singing and Saturday Ceilidhs gave a large pool of potential recruits.
Ewan Unicorn – 19 June 1976
(The emotional ties with the Adlington FDG have remained strong, and we have danced many times together – most recently at their Golden Anniversary celebrations on 2 October 2005.) But there was an influx of dancers to the side, requiring practices on Saturdays as well as Tuesdays, so that during 1975 we did twenty-four bookings and had twenty-one members. We also pulled the inaugural Saddleworth Rushcart with Saddleworth and Gorton Morris Men on 23 August 1975.
1976 was an historic year for the side with its entry into the Morris Ring. Fourteen members were present at Chipperfield to see GRAHAM SMITH presented with his staff of office. A surprise trip to Brussels had been made on 28 – 30 August, together with a Derbyshire tours on 5 June and 4 July. The acquisition of a unicorn (later known as Ewan) and Morris doll created much interest on displays. The side was giving competent displays, with Adderbury and Stanton Harcourt being performed the best. The side also performed a Longsword dance. A loan was given to help with the start of Poynton Jemmers (who recently celebrated their 30th Anniversary).
Derbyshire Tour – 5 June 1976
Morris Ring Meeting – 10 July 1976
Many requests for displays were received in the Silver Jubilee year of 1977, but most were turned down. This year we wore tatter suits for Longsword, with blacked-up faces. Ilmington was introduced as a Cotswold tradition. The side went to the weeklong Whitby festival, although this was not without problems. Most of the side stayed in the same digs, and the landlady exploded when the guests’ lounge was used for an impromptu practice – and we could not understand why at the time. DUNCAN BROOMHEAD started the mammoth task of collecting photographs, newspaper cuttings etc in a scrapbook – now filling four volumes. The side showed some tension in trying to update the original Rapper side constitution, at an EGM. Twenty changes were proposed with twelve further amendments discussed, but at the end the whole amended constitution was rejected. This was left for a further twenty-two years until the prospect of Lottery Grants beckoned.
Adlington Morris went to the Sidmouth Folk Festival on 4 /11 August 1978, which brought a new maturity to many of the club members. The tradition of an annual tour and feast was continued, among a total of twenty-five bookings.
Dancing was over-shadowed by the tragic death of STEVE HORROCKS in a motorcycle accident. TONY HILL retired as squire, and it was acknowledged that he was the basis of the club’s achievements in dance and music, and he had seen the club move from dependence on Adlington FDC to full independence.
The Adlington Mummers performed for the first time in December 1978. In 1977 Adlington Morris Men had decided that they wanted to revive a local Mummers Play and a chance comment by a friend of a friend, set us on our way on a trail that lead to Alec Barber, a retired farmer of Nether Alderley. The Nether Alderley play was collected from him, with costume detail from Fred Barber. The play had been regularly performed at Christmas and New Year from around 1820 to 1937, by members of the Barber family who were tenants of the Stanley estate. It was originally performed in the farmhouses of the estate, and later in the Tenants’ Hall as part of the Christmas festivities. This change in time of appearance seems to have dated from about 1900 when the play was revived after a lapse of twenty years. Soon after the 1937 performance the Stanley estate was broken up and sold, and the performances lapsed as the tenants were scattered.
Tatter Suits – 10 March 1977
Sidmouth Festival – August 1978
There were 25 performances in 1979. Six new members joined in 1980 to bring the membership to twenty-one. Westminster Morris had the temerity to suggest that our Unicorn was a copy, but failed to realise that the Adlington Unicorn dates from the middle ages – also ours was far superior. (This spat was finally healed in Chester in 2005, when Ewan circled the dance with the Westminster unicorn suitably chastened). Sunday practices were used principally to help newer members. In 1981 we had a weekend away at Uttoxeter among twenty-two bookings. We could now perform fifty dances from five main traditions – Adderbury, Bampton, Bledington, Bucknell, and Fieldtown. The Souling play was performed for the first time.
We had anticipated a quiet season in 1982, but this did not prove so with eighteen bookings as far a field as Edinburgh, Southport, The Wrekin, and Uttoxeter. The Mummers became independent of the side, with expenditure of monies collected to be decided by them.
Twenty-one members danced in 1983 with appearances in kit on forty occasions. The side again declined to attend Morris ring meetings but attended two major weekends at Southport and Alford.
Nether Alderley Mummers Play – 1920
New dances had been introduced including two Fieldtown dances, eight-man Adderbury dances and to the dismay of many two Hinton dances. The foreman’s kit invoked great comment, yet he denied any ambition to become an ice-cream seller. After great debate a motion was carried at the AGM that ‘the kit is unsatisfactory and should be replaced’ – the demise of the green tabards was nigh. An EGM voted on its replacement item by item. The resulting kit of white breeches and shirts, baldrics in club colours with rosettes, a Unicorn badge, waist-band and top hat should be a camel, yet it seems to be a thoroughbred based on its overall impression and compliments received. The first outing of the whole side in our new kit was on our photographic session on 3 June 1984. The squire’s ‘horse-brass’ of office was worn for the first time.
The side managed to go away five times among the thirty-five kit appearances in 1984, including a memorable weekend with Lothian Morris men. The squire remembered JOHN PORTLOCK’S swimming Morris lessons at Lichfield and TREVOR ROBERTS suffering Ind Coope’s revenge at Derby. The side now printed a programme for distribution to the public.
Adlington Morris Men & Adlington Mummers
Members to 2006 (* Founder Member, S Leader or Squire)
DAVE AIREY, RAY ARCHER S, DAVE BAILEY, ROGER BALDRY, ARTHUR BALL S, DAVE BALL, IAN BALL, REG BATTLE, EDWIN BEASANT, EDWARD BEVAN, KIETH BILSBURY, JOHN BIRTWISTLE, PHILIP BLUNDELL, RICHARD BOURNE, BOB BOWE, DUNCAN BROOMHEAD S, MIKE BROOMHEAD, MARK BROWN, DAMIAN CAHILL, IAN CARLISLE, EDDIE CASTER, DON CATTERALL, STAN CHART S, DAVE COOK, DAVE ‘COOKIE’ COOK, JEM COOPER, CLIVE COWX, STEVEN DAVIES,
DAVE DERBYSHIRE, JAKOB DONKERSLOOT, BILL DOUGLAS, BOB EARNEY, ALAN EWING, BOB FRITH, GEOFF GALLAGHER, RUSSELL GASCOIGNE, DAVE GEE, TERRY GRANT, BOB GRIFFITHS, WYN GUNERATNE, KEITH HANCOCK, BRIAN HARKER, CLIVE HASTE, DAVE HATTON, JIM HAUGHTON, W HAWORTH, FRED HAYWARD, * TONY HILL S, STEVE HORROCKS, DAVE HOUGHTON, J HOUGHTON, NIGEL HOWARTH, ROGER JACKSON S, DEREK JERVIS, BOB JEWELL, JOHN JOCKYS,
RAY JOHNSON *, GEORGE KING, TONY LEPP, ANDREW LOVELL S, MARK LOVELL, TONY MANNION, CHRIS MOCKLER, PHIL MOORE, ROBERT MOORE, LINDEN MORRIS, TERRY MORRIS, ANDY MORTON, * BOB MORTON, * MALCOLM MURDOCH, * JOHN MURPHY,
SEAN MURPHY, MICK NEEDHAM, IAN O’TOOLE, ROY PARRISH, GEORGE PARRY, BOB PARTRIDGE, REG PEEKS,
JIM PENNINGTON, AL PERKS, REG PERRY, JOHN PORTLOCK, HOWARD QUIN, PHIL RAYNES S, PHIL RIDGWAY, JOHN RILEY,
TREVOR ROBERTS, STEVE ROGERS, PETER ROSE, BRUCE ROTHWELL, TIM SHAW, THOMAS SHAW, BRIAN SIMPSON, BILL SINGLETON, GEOFF SMITH, GRAHAM SMITH * S, ALEX STONE,
DEREK STYLES, SIMON THRELFALL, ANDY TYMM, ALAN TIPPING, MALC TOZER *, CHARLES TULLY, COLIN TURTON, GLEN TWEEDY, ROGER TWITCHIN, EWAN UNICORN, PETE WATERFALL, STEVE WESTWOOD, RICHARD WHEELER, DAVE WHITTAKER, SIMON WHOMSLEY, ANDREW WILCOCK, BRUCE WILLIAMS, SAM WOOD *, STEVE WOOD S
Jemmers Tour – 14 May 1980
Longsword was almost re-established following the lapse of the Kirby Malzeard dance. Trevor Stone, an experienced exponent of all Longsword traditions, taught another traditional dance from Helmsley to the side. The side debated on how to move forward in its dancing policy – whether to concentrate on a single tradition or to keep a broad spread. The side concluded it should do dances in a way that makes them their own and in its own style, ensuring that the differences in traditions were emphasised, rather than reducing them to sameness. Multiple foremen were introduced in 1986 to help achieve this.
We celebrated our 21st Anniversary in 1985 with a meal at the Belfry Hotel in Bollington, attended by many old and current members and their partners. Past performers memorably performed the Rapper sword dance. The year was again busy with thirty-five appearances in kit. The repertoire was radically pruned with the Adderbury, Bampton and Hinton dances being dropped, concentrating on Fieldtown, Bledington and some show dances. The side was concerned that others perceived it as ‘anti-social’. The club’s policy was to dance with any side (Mixed or Federation) but not with Women’s Cotswolds sides!
The side transferred its collection activities from Stockport Precinct to Marple in 1986, among thirty other bookings. These were becoming harder to do with a declining membership, and resulted in doing events that the side had no real desire to do, and members turning out from loyalty. The last Tour and Feast was held on 20 September 1986 with guests from Grimsby Morris Men and other sides, and included a briefs revelation from an ersatz Fidler’s Fancy artiste. By 1987 the response to a Tour and Feast was so poor that the side dropped it completely. The side decided to extend its dance repertoire and interest by inviting the Traditional Ilmington Morris Men to teach them the tradition over a weekend at Poynton Folk Centre. This was very successful dance-wise, socially and generated a new enthusiasm in the side.
The side made twenty-seven appearances both in 1987 and 1988. The repertoire of thirty-three dances was too big to be manageable. We now knew Ilmington so that we didn’t have to think about it. It was noted that new tunes could revive a dance, as ‘Star of the County Down’ had with Fieldtown ‘Balance the Straw’.
Stockport precinct – 1st November 1980
In 1988 the Nether Alderley play was performed at the 21st Birthday party of Mary Houseman’s son. Mary was a member of the WI that had formed Adlington FDC and niece of Alec Barber from whom the play was collected. The performance was rewarded with a manuscript of the play, that yielded a further twelve lines of text to add to the performance.
A successful instructional was taught by Headington Quarry Morris Men at Poynton Folk Centre on 25 February 1989. As a result Headington was introduced into the dance repertoire. Thirty-three bookings were done in 1989, including a men-only Cotswolds Tour to celebrate our Silver Jubilee, which has been repeated every year since. We also appeared on Granada TV. In comparison 1990 seemed to be a year of consolidation, yet still performing twenty-eight times.
The squire ANDREW LOVELL felt that dancing in 1991 was steady as you go, but that we danced very well compared to other sides. There was a lively badinage in the set. The side was getting smaller with numbers reducing to thirteen. The number of bookings had reduced significantly to eighteen, but high spots were the Cotswolds Tour and weekends at Wimborne Folk Festival and with Isca Morris Men. After much struggle, Headington was finally brought to display standard.
Edinburgh – 24 July 1982
Old Boys – 21st Anniversary – 20 April 1985
A well-paid booking was done for the BBC to appear on S4C in Wales, in which PHIL MOORE was complimented on his repeated accordion playing. This was one of only seventeen bookings, but included a weekend in Warwick. In 1992, we lost PHIL MOORE as musician as he emigrated to Hawaii, and we tried to introduce a lady violinist to augment practice evenings. Advancing years necessitated dropping of Fieldtown Glorishears that involves a leapfrog figure.
Bledington was finished as a major tradition in 1993 as numbers dropped to ten, and bookings also. We introduced Lower Swell tradition by developing a style from Sharp’s manuscript notes. Weekends were attended in Winkleigh in Devon, notable for dancing at a sheep museum, and Isca where we won the team cock-up prize for the most unintelligible video. ALAN EWING won the Richard Head Trophy, and DAVE AIREY was elected unanimously as Cotswold Weekend Scapegoat.
Hook Norton – 6th May 1989
The year 1994 was one of few highlights, with numbers low, sixteen bookings and one new but experienced member, RAY ARCHER. This was our 30th Anniversary. In 1995 we welcomed back GRAHAM SMITH, who persuaded us to train a team of Scouts for their foreign jamboree. We only did fifteen bookings, but danced to a high standard and had a good year. However membership was static at twelve in 1996. We danced 137 dances using twenty-five out the thirty-one dance repertoire. PHIL MOORE returned from overseas. We started performing the Adderbury dance tradition. Great strides were made in Longsword as ROGER JACKSON and MIKE BROOMHEAD started doing it.
The Nether Alderley play was performed in December 1995 at Tenant’s Hall, Alderley Park (now part of Astra Zeneca), returning the play to where it was last performed 58 years previously.
The squire DUNCAN BROOMHEAD had a personal crisis with his back injury in 1996 – 1997, reducing him to immobility and reflection. He realised that he had become an old grump, and his eventual recovery through a period as non-dancing ‘El Presidente’ to dance at GEOFF SMITH’S wedding brought a tear to the eye. The side was handicapped by his absence both in loss of a dancer but also in his drive to make the side dance well. In 1997 we had a resurgence of numbers from eleven to fifteen, and had sixteen bookings. Highlights included a trip to Cleethorpes, Longsword dancing in a shelter in Kirby Lonsdale, Crook Morris weekend and dancing at a fully-fledged gay pub. The Cotswolds were re-located to Yorkshire for this year’s tour. Unfortunately nerves beat us when the Helmsley Sword Dance was danced twice in its town square, resulting in a dance of two halves.
The side’s equanimity was restored in 1998 as a splinter faction left, taking their hidden agendas with them. Dancing standards remained high, and bookings stabilised at sixteen. Longsword dancing was improved more by new recruits and polishing of the swords by GRAHAM SMITH. The major decision was that a move from Poynton Folk Centre was needed as it was felt that we were not welcome anymore. A long search to find the right hall ended in a move to 1st Handforth Scout hut in 1998.
Arley Hall – 10 July 1993
By 1999 another second-generation dancer, ROBERT MOORE was a member of the side (in addition to GEOFF SMITH). It was our busiest year in a long time, performing at twenty bookings. Bampton was added to the existing traditions of Headington, Fieldtown, Ilmington, Adderbury, and Odds & Sods. Twenty-five dances were actively danced. Longsword was also danced eight times, including GRAHAM SMITH’S return to sword dancing. Regret was expressed at the passing of SAM WOOD, the first of our founder members to die.
The side received a Millennium Lottery Grant in 2000 that was used for an ‘Arts for the Millennium Initiative’. The aim was to encourage new people to get involved in dancing and playing for the Morris and to take it to as wide a range of people as possible. Adlington’s contribution was to arrange a community event based in Macclesfield Borough, involving six taster workshops, a more advanced workshop for interested volunteers, and a Morris tour of the Borough (Alderley Edge, Knutsford, and Macclesfield) on 1 July 2000. This was the biggest event that the side had arranged for years, and it was an outstanding success.
Cotswolds – 23 September 1995
Alderley Park – December 1995
This was also a time to note that several men had been with the side over twenty-five years – DUNCAN BROOMHEAD, BILL DOUGLAS, PHIL RAYNES, TONY HILL, and GRAHAM SMITH. In 1975, the squire had said that ‘it was important that the side didn’t grow old’ what could he be thinking of; but also that the club ‘was on its way to the big league’. Now this had been achieved, it was vitally important that we remain there, and focus on how to best achieve this and not on if we want to maintain this standard. The side danced twenty-seven times. An addition to the dance repertoire was GRAHAM’S invention – the Adlington Processional. The Adlington Mummers had a trip to Enniskillen in Ireland, where the crowd cheered when Bold Slasher dies! The side noted the passing of another former member PHILIP RIDGWAY with sadness.
In 2001 DUNCAN volunteered to continue as squire, subject to there being less bickering from the side. He had tried North West Morris with Manley, but it hurt his back. He lasted until April 2002, when a palace putsch (thinly disguised as the Bagman’s resignation) installed RAY ARCHER as squire. Careful selection of dances allowed us to do very good displays in fourteen bookings, though a performance of Fieldtown Dearest Dickey with Ringheye Morris was a dance too far.
The side felt happier with its performances in 2002, getting generally good comments from other teams. The reciprocal visit of the Aughakillymaude Community Mummers from Ireland was a highlight. The side focussed on improving its publicity efforts. The year concluded with the time when a single dancer, ROBERT MOORE, was out-numbered by a side of musicians (a veritable melodeon wall of sound).
A winter recruiting campaign saw a number of new members for 2003 – RUSSELL GASCOIGNE, SIMON WHOMSLEY, ROY PARRISH, and JAKOB DONKERSLOOT, and numbers rose to nineteen. We danced out twenty times, and the use of electronic mail made the Secretary’s job much easier. Adlington truly arrived in the age of information technology with a website. An EGM was held to re-admit Adlington Mummers after a break of twenty-one years, as it had been discovered that they did not have third party public liability insurance. Changes of constitution would allow this to be remedied, at a nominal membership cost for those who did not Morris dance as well.
Cotswolds – 23 September 1995
Mobberley – 22 December 2002
2004 was not as exciting as promised, as various circumstances resulted in some members being unavailable over long periods of the year. Nonetheless we put on some good shows among twenty-three bookings, enjoyed Cleethorpes Festival and swilled copious beers free drinks and food at private bookings. The website yielded nearly £600 in fees.
This history concludes with our fortieth anniversary year that saw a recreation of our 21st Anniversary photograph at Adlington Hall. It also includes a DVD compilation of all known archival moving pictures. The first forty years have been chequered but definitely have more highs than lows. At our best, Adlington Morris Men has been among the premier Cotswolds sides in the country – long may it continue. We have enjoyed the dedicated enthusiasm of a band of like-minded men who have grown together, where performance and enjoyment of the Morris dance has been the most important part. Tantalisingly, we learnt of a possible side in Adlington in the 1920’s, glimpsed through a monochrome photographic lens. The current side may like them fade away, or may continue to go from strength to strength – only time will tell.
A short History, by Tim Shaw (a short man) and Malcolm Murdoch.
Photographs from various sources including Roger Jackson and Brian Ollier.