SNIPPETS FROM THE 1950's SCRAPBOOKThe earliest copies we have of the annual bagman's reports are from 1953, 1954 & 1955 ; and they are available below.
The fruits of the practices have been shown in the streets several
times during summer. On May 9th, the men joined with Manley Men and
toured round the Congleton - Crewe - Sandbach area, taking lunch in
Astbury and finishing with a feast at the Lower Chequers in Sandbach.
After the feast, men felt so active that they danced under the street
lamps in Sandbach and Brereton until closing time.
On June 20th, the club showed the Godley Hill dance at the EFDS festival in Morecambe and afterwards danced along the promenade for an hour and a half, in spite of occasional drizzle, so successfully that the bagman's rucksack split under the weight of the collection as he reached home.
On July the 18th, the men danced at several places from Handforth to Knutsford. Everywhere they found most enthusiastic audiences, and several people remarked "This is the real Morris isn't it? It's not the kind of thing the girls dance round here!" The day officially finished with the club's first annual feast at the Rose and Crown, Knutsford although at 11.00pm men could still be seen dancing jigs in the glare of car headlights in the High Street.
The last tour of the year was held on Saturday September 12th, when shows were given from Poynton to Bollington Cross via Macclesfield, Prestbury and Bollington. Once again the good luck the men have had so far showed itself in a blue and sunny sky, and even in small villages such as Adlington there were large crowds to watch the dances. At one time in Adliington about 20 cars were parked along the main road while their drivers joined the audience. After a perfect show, in evening light at Bollington Cross, the club was greatly honoured to be invited by Mr and Mrs Percy to take a huge meal at their house, and so the day finished as Morris days usually finish, with eating and drinking and much talking round the table.
There were many smaller shows during the summer on various occasions. A plan to dance all round the centre of Manchester on Coronation Night was foiled by the weather, but this was the only time when rain spoilt the dance. At Whit Weekend three members of the club went to Whafedale to join the Leeds Morris Men on their Whit Monday morris and sword dancing tour of the dale, while four men, including the squire, represented the club at the Thaxted meeting of the Morris Ring in June. Next year the club hopes to send a complete side to a Ring meeting to show some Lancashire or Cheshire Morris.
This year, enough was collected to put the club on its feet financially, and to buy ribbons, breeches and stockings for the new members. Next year the men are hoping to earn themselves clogs, so that they can do justice to the local dances. At the annual feast, Bernard Bentley was elected as Squire for the next year, Ian Browne as Bagman and Roy Whitfield as Recorder.
During the winter, practices will be held on Thursday's at 7:30pm. Beginners are particularly welcome, and those interested should contact the Bagman at the following address:- Ian Browne, Hawthorne Avenue, Wilmslow, Cheshire.
The July tour with the Liverpool Men broke new ground with a visit to Lymm, and a successful day's dancing was rounded off with the club's second annual feast at the Rose and Crown, Knutsford. Harry Corser was elected Squire in succession to Bernard Bentley, and Roy Whitfield assumed the role of Bagman after the initial heavy spadework undertaken by Ian Brown. The club could look back happily on a very successful and financially healthy year's activity for which we owe a great deal to the work of our first pair of officers.
Having revived the Godley Hill Morris it would have been regrettable had we failed to take it back to the place of its origin, and so the September tour was based on a circuit covering Hyde, Godley Hill, Mottram, Stalybridge, Mossley and Ashton - genuine Morris territory of the old days. The visit to Godley Hill itself is featured on another page. [not yet transcribed] Initial interest was aroused by the local newspaper. Particularly at Hyde, the appreciation of the spectators at seeing the Morris back again after all these years, was most warming, and the Men were approached and thanked for reviving old memories. The Godley Hill Morris certainly struck a bell here, and it has helped us all to see the dancing in a new light.
Rain again affected tour on June 11th which covered Sale, Timperley, Hale and Bowden and finished at Timpson's Garden Fete. Despite good publicity, the Sale people showed very little interest even when the dancing was taking place. That Timperley site was a good one and quite a large crowd was waiting for us. Rain curtailed the shows at Hale and Bowdon. The letter of thanks from Timpsons contained the following ambiguous sentence - "We were all quite fascinated and it is good to know that there are people willing to do this to keep alive old conditions".
The tour on 23rd July again took as far afield to the Fire Brigade's Garden Fete at Macclesfield where we sweated for half an hour under the broiling sun while the jazz band had its refreshments. The remainder of the tour was an experiment. Without any publicity could we find the crowds congregating in the beauty spots of Cheshire. Redesmere, the Wizard and Styal - and enliven their afternoon? The experiment, as it proved, was not an outstanding success, but by no means a failure
After the Midsummer break we came back refreshed for the tour on September 3rd in the Hyde, Mosssley, Stalybridge, Ashton area. We had been dancing the Mossley Morris during the summer but now we were provided with clogs for the first time and this made a big difference. We gave eight shows during the day, starting at Upper Mossley to a good crowd and finishing at Ashton to the biggest of the day. The Holy Name Scouts' Sword Team joined as after lunch and provided a welcome variety to the displays of Morris. This is by far the best tour of the summer in terms of crowd, weather, enjoyment and collections and it put us in good fettle for the Ring Meeting fortnight later. We get good newspaper publicity on this tour and crowds are very responsive to the Morris, particularly the Lancashire variety which is still a living memory to many in this area. This is industrial region of chimneys and cotton mills, and the settings are not of the village green type, but it is genuine Morris territory.
The Manchester men acted as host to the Morris Ring for the weekend 16/18 September; the weather behaved quite sensibly for these parts, the arrangements went more smoothly than might have been expected, the meeting was very well supported by the Northern clubs and others from further afield. The civic authorities gave us a warm welcome and the public responded general generously, so that everyone appeared to have quite a good time. The wide variety of Morris and Sword dance at this meeting contributed not a little to the success of the weekend.
In addition to the major events, the club also took part in several indoor festivals at the Manchester YMCA, Accrington, Rochdale and a Community Centre meeting organised by the Manchester Education Committee.
Roy Whitfield (Bagman)