Our second guest speaker in the Cotton Culture Connections series is Martin Stimson a member of a Morris side (group) since 1975 when he had his first experience as part of the Saddleworth Rushcart. Speaking from the heart, Martin uses his skills as a musician and singer-songwriter to entertain and educate us about his experience and love of Morris.
We learn there are regional varieties of Morris and that the North West Morris tradition stands out for being a processional format, with dancers in lines rather than static in blocks. The N.W. Morris sides would take part in the frequent celebratory processions that brought the streets of industrial towns to life during their hey day in mid 19th Century. Very much a tradition of working people costumes were often simple, incorporating clogs which were the work shoes of millworkers.
Martin speaks of the origins of Morris in Mossley and how the team walked and danced to Blackpool to raise money for widows of a Welsh mining disaster in 1934, only to be asked to leave by the Mayor because of their rowdiness!
We get a sense of the ups and downs of the Mossley Morris team which fizzled out after the second world war and then revived in 1980s with the help of dancers from Manchester and new members from Tameside.
An interesting Q & A suggests that Mossley Morris might even have performed in Brazil, but Martin’s not convinced. Further discussion explores the visual links between characters in Morris and Brazilian folkloric performance.
If you’ve ever stood and watched a Morris team and had your curiosity piqued then this is the talk for you. Martin offers his experience of what the Morris tradition means to him and we are thankful he so generously shared it with us.
The main picture above shows Mossley Morris at the turn of twentieth century. The side is much smaller these days and would love to welcome new members, dancers and musicians. If you’d like to dip your toe and help breath life into local heritage please get in touch with Martin. https://www.facebook.com/mossley.morrisman
Main photo circa 1910 – 1912 from archive images Tameside
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