The Millbrook (Stalybridge) Morris Dance -- (2 of 4)
Research notes from D. Howison, collected in October 1957
CostumeLong trousers with blue or red braid on them, white shirt, tie.
Round straw hat trimmed with artificial flowers. The left hand file wore a red diagonal sash, the right hand file a blue one. They spoke of the 'red side' and the 'blue side'.
They danced in shoes(not clogs) with bells on the laces. Sykes says that his father also danced in shoes when he was young.
Of the braid on the trousers, he said it was 'blue or red caddis, about half an inch broad, like they used for decorating horses."
The diagonal sash(which was tied on the outside) was provided out of the funds, but "if you'd one round your waist you found it yourself."
In each hand the dancer held a short stick covered with white cloth, and then wound with ribbons, a loop being made at one end for the wrist, and ribbons being left loose at the other. They called them "tittle-eara's"
A character dressed as "a gypsy woman" who carried a broom or mop, danced at the front of the procession, and cleared a way for the dancers. During the dance the Besom Bet kept out of the way and "probably took a hat round." She did not act as a leader in any way. (There was no conductor, and any necessary commands were given by one of the older dancers who would be walking with the band. The Besom Bet in the 1902 photograph is Sykes' father.