Held in Manchester on 16-18 April 1971

(text taken from the 4th Ring Log Book, courtesy of The Morris Ring)

The 128th Meeting of The Morris Ring was held at Manchester from the 16th to the 18th of April, 1971, at the invitation of the Manchester Morris Men; that unusually early time of the year supported by research into weather records; Derek Froome, the Squire of the club, wrote on the 10th of April, 1970, "I have checked the weather records over the past ten years, and we look like having a very good chance for fine weather, about 5 to 1 in our favour."

The Reception was in Woolton Hall, a University Hall of Residence; which with Ashburne Hall, provided the main accommodation for the meeting. Other visiting men "camped" in Church Halls in the same Manchester 14 area.

A great Ale, that had begun at 7.5 p.m., dancing beginning at 8.30, took place at Woolton Hall; a vast number of men, constantly added to by new arrivals, provided eight or ten sides at a time for the dances; those including Black Joke Add., Jockey To The Fair, Getting Upstairs, William and Nancy, Orange in Bloom, Willow Tree, Dearest Dicky, Queens Delight, Flowers of Edinburgh. Beer was obtained at one end of the great hall, and food at the other. Much singing included Jones Ale, and Martin and his man. George Atkinson played the Northumbrian pipes. At 11.25 there was a general finish to the Ale, and most men went to bed; but two sides stayed to dance Swaggering Boney, and one to dance The Webley, and Jockey To The Fair at 11.40. At 11.45 a side danced in the drive outside Woolton Hall, Young Collins to Bernard Oakley's pipe and tabor.

At 5.45 p.m. the Squire of the Manchester M.M., and the Bagman of the club, Denis Cleary, had been interviewed, and broadcast 'live', by Radio Manchester. The interview had been begun and ended with music by the Manchester musician, tape recorded earlier. Derek Froome had recorded an interview with Jim Lloyd, also; that, with music, was broadcast during Folk on Friday, and southerners had listen with pleasure as they travelled northwards.

Breakfast on Saturday was served in two of the Halls of Residence: in Woolton Hall one of the ladies picked up and played a Hammersmith accordion. The men assembled in Old Hall Lane, for tour departures; and there was a unique sight of fifteen double decker buses, one for each tour, being boarded by morris men. They were shepherded aboard the buses by Manchester M.M. guides, who were wearing there "undress" hats, of bright red felt - hats delivered by the maker just in time for the meeting. The men danced in magnificent shopping centres, with galleries (including moving pathways!) for spectators, and raised plinths and other perfect display centres for the dancers. Reported incidents on tours were the theft of the morning's 'bag' from the locked bus, at lunchtime at Reddish, on Tour 9; at that same spot the Handsworth men did their sword dance without putting on coats, hats and leggings; the two afternoon shows at Bolton Precinct were arranged for before and after a Salvation army band concert. After tea at Woolton Hall the men assembled at Piccadilly for one of the great processions of The Morris Ring; so that the men in the middle of it could not see it's begging or its end. It moved off behind five mounted policemen - a line of four abreast, led by a corporal. The procession Winstered and walked to St. Peter's Square, where the great show began at 6.30 p.m. with a massed Queens Delight; it ended with the Manchester men dancing the Mossley; and Bonny Green Garters.

Three hundred and eight-eight men sat down to the Feast in the University Refectory in Oxford Road. Kenneth Loveless read the Morris Grace; and Derek Froome lit the candles in the Sephton holder, saying "We of the Manchester men welcome you to our famous city for the forth time. Thank you, Mr. Squire." The Feast proceeded as on the menu attached hereto. The Manchester men were busy with jugs of drink; those jugs had wrappers bearing the words "Morris Ring of England." The Toast to the Queen, Duke of Lancaster, came at 9.10: at 9.11 the toast to Cecil Sharp. At 9.32 Harry Boardman proposed the health of the City of Manchester and the Manchester Morris Men, speaking proudly of the commerce and workers of the great city; and saying that old traditions should not die out, and that the Manchester Morris Men were keeping alive a real tradition, he invited the company to both the town and its morris men; that was done with great applause. At 9.40 the squire of the Manchester Morris Men, Derek Froome, listed those whose help and co-operation had made the meeting possible; the police and many local authorities; wives and sweethearts, and the Manchester morris men themselves. He welcomed the teams, which had come to the meeting, particularly Antrobus, Handsworth and Manley. He said that the room in which the feasted was the Alfred Haworth room; Alfred Haworth was grandfather to Colin Haworth, the Squire of the Manley side there that night. Then the said to mark the fact that the Manchester M.M. had been associated in the Morris Ring for 35 years, the club had caused to be made, by David Frost of the Faculty of Art and Design in the Manchester Polytechnic, a table holder for the Squire of the ring's staff of Office. He handed the device to the squire of the Ring "with the compliments and affection of the Manchester Morris Men." There was great applause at that, and more applause as the Squire set it up, and placed the staff upon it. At 9.51 the rev. Michael Hennell proposed the Health to the Guests and Visitors. He said that the visitors, gaily dressed or not, were privileged to be there that night; and that he was impressed by both dances and ways of the Ring. The toast was drunk at 9.56. The reply by the Bagman of the Ring, spoke of a great Lancastrian of the Morris ring, Fred Hamer; of the enormous amount of work necessary to the running of a meeting, well understood by ten of the clubs sitting there that night; and that men would look back on the present meeting with pride that they were there. At 10 p.m. Colin Haworth received a staff of association for the Manley Morris Dancers; the staff bore a silver band inscribed, "The Manley Morris Dancers Associated in the Ring in 1953 Staff presented 1971." Colin made a short speech, saying that his grandfather had danced at the age of 76. Colin Shaw received a staff for the Dolphin Morris Men; and Dave Hunt a staff for Giffard Morris Men. All three staffs were presented mid applause from the great company. The Squire of the Ring said that it would be appropriate for these three clubs to start the singing; Colin Haworth sang a version of Jones's Ale; Colin Shaw, Hal-an-To to the accompaniment to the clubs accordion; and Dave Hunt, "Good ale, thow art my darling." At 10.14, three of Gloucestershire sang "Lloyd George's Beer." At 10.18 the squire announced the closing times for the bars in the building; that there would not be a representatives meeting the following morning; that there could be dancing on the floodlit flags outside the building; that there was a bus shuttle service to Woolton Hall, that evening, every fifteen minuets; and that men must leave for Piccadilly promptly at 9.30 0n the Sunday morning. The Feast ended at 10.20. Men went to a downstairs hall, where there was a bar, and to dance on the flags among the plants and columns, of the reception hall; one or two of the attendants were heard to mutter that the men should have been outside. In the inner hall George Atkinson played variations on Johnny's So Long At The Fair; and the Antorbus Gang showed their play. On the flags six sides, at least, danced Bledington Trunkles; several sides danced Cuckoos Nest Longborough, Orange in Bloom, and Sherborne Old Woman Tossed Up, Glorishers, and others. When the men returned to Woolton Hall dancing was resumed, both in the big room with the bar, and in the T.V. room, and continued until past 1 a.m.

On Sunday morning (dry, with a fresh breeze,) the doors of Woolton Hall were still locked at 8.15; but at 8.30 men were being served with their breakfasts. They went to Piccadilly in coaches; but the Squire of the Ring went in his car with two passengers, and ran out of petrol in the city centre. The car was pushed into the kerb and left until latter in the morning. The second great procession of the meeting, with the Manchester M.M. at the rear, went to the Cathedral, with police at every crossing to see that the column was not halted; there was some Winstering, but traffic noise, and the Cathedral bells, made that difficult. The band was heard to play the Fieldtown Processional and the British Grenadiers. Outside the Cathedral were huge posters, announcing that the Morris Ring of England would be at service there, the preacher being the Rev. Kenneth Loveless. The morris men filled much of the nave and the two North aisle. The Squire of the Ring, and the Squire of the Manchester M.M., sat in front nave seats. The choir came through the screen, and the congregation stood as the first verse of Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day was sung. The first lesson was read by the Squire of the Manchester M.M.; and the second by the Squire of the Ring; each man being led ceremonially to and from his seat. Kenneth Loveless said that "our mystery is shrouded in antiquity;" in 1458 it had been mentioned in a will; he gave a number of 16th and 17th century dates from church wardens accounts, and contemporary writings, where the morris had been mentioned. He quoted, from a newspaper article, the question, "Can a man live like Christ?", and spoke of Jesus own reliance on God as a source of strength; and of his love for his fellow man; upon whom Jesus looked as a brotherhood which was stronger than any blood relationship. The morris men were a brotherhood, which would be even stronger if they were conscious of God behind them. As the Creed was sung Derek Froome rose and led other Manchester men to the back of the church. After prayers, which included the Morris Ring, Jim Reilly (the Manchester violinist), Peter Fox (accordionist), and Keith Lascells (drummer) went to the choir. Nine dancers performed the Colne Processional Dance in the space before the alter. They processed off to the back of the church; and the morris men in the front rows immediately put out the kneeling rails for the communion. At the end of the service the congregation went out through the North Door, while the musicians gathered at the West end and played Lord of The Dance. Close by the Cathedral, in Chetham's Hospital, the Big Show began with Queens Delight for all; it is listed in an appendix to this Log, and included a remarkable sword play by the Coventry mummers in which the betty's "head" flew off when swordsmen broke the lock; the show ended with the Manchester M.M. showing the Mossley Dance. The men returned to the halls of residence for the last meal of the meeting; a collection was made, and Derek Fromme handed it to the ladies. From 3 p.m. farewells, and thanks to the Manchester Morris Men, became general. The collections reached the stupendous figure of £736. To that was added £17.78 from the Deans and Canons of the Cathedral: it being their custom to give half the collection to any organisation closely connected with any particular service



1/ Derek Froome wrote the 3-fold programme.

2/ David Frost made the Manchester Squires Badge, the gift of the widow of Harry Corser. David's staff-holder was contained in a specially designed box.

3/ The meetings "flying circle" motif was designed by John Robbett, also of the Faculty of Art and Design.

4/ Ron Shuttleworth, of the Coventry Mummers, said that his text for the sword play was selected from several versions: the figures were from the North Skelton dance.

5/ Ken Langsbury said that "Lloyd George's Beer" had been learnt from a 78r.p.m. record of c1918.

6/ The Big Show, Saturday. Queens Delight, for all: Getting Upstairs for all: Manley: Giffard, Black Joke Ilm: Dolphin, Rigs o' Marlow: Bobbing Joe for all: Handsworth Sword: Datchet, Gloucestershire, East Suffolk, St. Albans, Leapfrog Bledington: Jockey, Month of May: Black Joke, Add., for all: Leyland: Antrobus Gang: Constant Bill, Add., for all: Benfieldside, rapper: Squire's Jig, H. Quarry Jockie to the Fair; Manchester, the Mossley. Bonny Green Garters.

7/ The Big Show, Sunday. Queens Delight, for all; John o' Gaunt, a Lancs. Garland Dance: Stafford, Castlering: Southport, North Skelton sword: Jockey to the Fair, for all: St. Albans, Constant Billy, H. Quarry: Ravensbourne, Fieldtown Shepherds Hey: Benfieldside, Trunkles Bled: Balance the straw, for all: East Suffolk, Banks of the Dee; Coventry Mummers: Brighton Camp, for all: Handsworth Sword: Squire's jig, Kenneth Loveless playing: Manchester, the Mossley dance: Bonny Green Garters at 1.15 p.m.


Notable Dates

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