The 52nd Meeting of The Morris Ring

Held in Manchester on 16-18 September 1955

1955 Manchester Ring Meeting

(text taken from the 3rd Ring Log Book, courtesy of The Morris Ring)

The fifty-second meeting of the Morris Ring was held at Manchester on the weekend of September 16-18 1955 at the invitation of the Manchester Morris Men. About 120 dancers took part, representing the following 18 clubs and teams: Bedford, Britannia Coco-Nut Dancers, Cambridge, East Surry, Grenaside, Headington Quarry, High Spen 'Blue Diamonds' Sword Team, Holy Name Scouts Sword Team, King's Collage N/C, Leeds, Longstraw, Manley, London Rodney, Royton Morris Dancers, Manchester, St. Albans, St. Helens & White Rose.

As a prelude to the weekend the Manchester Morris Men danced outside the Central Library at 7.30 on the Friday evening. The Ale, held in the Athenaeum Club, George Street, was a mainly social occasion enlivened with some rapper sword dancing. Many of the men slept on camp beds & palliassses, in the Collage for Adult Education, Lower Moseley Street, Which formed the headquarters for the meeting, while other availed themselves of beds at the Y.M.C.A. Residential club or enjoyed private hospitality.

On Saturday morning dancing started at 9.30 at three situations in the city and at 10.15 all the teams gathered in Albert Square, where barricades had been erected by the police to keep of the traffic, for a half-hours show in the prescence of the Lord Mayor who then invited all the men to a reception with morning coffee in the Town Hall. The Lord Mayor made a short speech of welcome which was replied to by the Squire, and the teams then divided into four separate parties each to give two further shows in different parts of the City before lunch which was taken in the Collage of Further Education. The Coco-Nut dancers having left for another engagement the four parties were slightly reorganised for the afternoon tours in the suburbs.

Tour A: High Spen, Longstraw & Manley to Burnage Garden Village, the Odeon Cinema, Kingsway & Didsbury.

Tour B: Leeds, White Rose & Cambridge to Sale Road, Northenden & Fallowfield.

Tour C: Royton & King's Collage N/C to Light-bown Road, Charleston Road, Crumpsall Lane, & the Belmont Hotel.

Tour D: Manchester, Headington Quarry, St. Helens to Failsworth Pole, New Moston, Chadderton & Harperhay.

The morning and afternoon were fine but soon after tea the clouds gathered & some rain fell. The 6 O'clock show in Albert Square was however only a little delayed & a good crowd of spectators enjoyed some first rate performances. The recently recovered Mosley version of the Lancashire Morris was shown by the Manchester club, and two offshoots of Royton, or more properly the Oldham & Failsworth Components of 'Royton', were shown respectively by the Manley Morris dancers trained & conducted by Bob McDermott and by a youthful team from Royton itself trained by Jim Coleman. *

* [Footnote] Owing to the Wakes all the coaches in Royton were already booked to go to Blackpool, except for one private one reserved for the local swimming club: so in order to get through to the meeting Mr Coleman promptly signed all his team up as members of the swimming club.

The High Spen Blue Diamond's (led by Fred Forester) the Holy Name Scouts Sword Team of Manchester & the King's Collage N/C team gave fine performances of rapper sword dancing. Beside this galaxy of northern talent it must be admitted that the Cotswold Morris hardly received an adequate showing, though the absence of massed dancing went unlamented.

The Feast was held at the Engineer's club, Albert Square, and included in the menu was the appropriate dish of Lancashire Hot-pot. The toast of the Morris Ring was proposed by Major (?) E.F. Pillsington, President of the Manchester District of the English Folk Dance & Song Society. He referred to the pre-war meeting of the Ring in the Trough of Bowland and to the encouraging affect the present meeting would have on the young Royton team. The Squire in his reply remarked on the un-presidented variety of the Morris & Sword dancing seen that day, and welcomed the teams, both members and non-members, some of whom had travelled long distances & others of whom had bravely crossed the Pennines to be there. The Morris Ring was like the round table of King Arthur, none having precedence over the other. The toast of the Manchester Morris Men was proposed by Fred Hamer who said the Lord Mayor had honoured us as no Lord Mayor had honoured us before. He thanked the Manchester club particularly for making it possible for us to see the Mossley dance for the first time, for bringing together more traditional sides then ever before & for giving us real Lancashire Hot-pot. The presents of the St. Helens team brought back to him a memory of a number of teams dancing in St. Helens in his youth. Replying to the toast, Harry Corser Squire of the Manchester Morris Men, Welcomed every body who had come to the meeting, complained that if only clubs replied to circulars how much easier the work of organisation would be, and in conclusion conveyed greetings to the Ring from the Manchester District of the English Folk Dance & Song Society. The Bagman read from the Minute Book the accounts of the meeting held at Thaxted and in the Cotswold's in May. The Squire presented a staff of membership to the representative of the St. Helens Morris Men, and the proceedings closed with a few songs including an inspired contribution from High Spen.

On Sunday morning most of the men attended Eucharist at St. Anne's church at 10.45 where the address was given by the Rector. The service was followed by dancing in St. Anne's square, and this memorable, excellently organised & entirely urban meeting ended with lunch at Gardener's Restaurant, Piccadilly. The bag amounted to £148-6 which related to the number of dancers taking part constitutes a record for a week-end Ring meeting.

It would be a pity to close this account without recording the following remarks overheard in the crowd: One old lady said to another "It just shows that after all there is something in these Teddy Boys"; then, late at night a woman was heard to remark confidentially "And besides, it stops them from going with women".



Donald Cassels


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