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In 1973, Geoff Hughes, an experienced Morris dancer, moved to Platt Bridge, the village adjoining Abram. He had learned the Abram Morris Dance several years before and set about researching its history and establishing the most authentic version of the dance. He was given a photocopy of “Old English Morris Dance” from the notebook of Richard Porter of Hindley, who had provided Maud Karpeles with a description of the Abram dance in 1931. By reference to such sources, Geoff would be able to teach the definitive version of the dance. On Saturday 26th May 1984, the first performance of the dance on the Morris Dancers’ Ground, Park Lane, Abram since the summer of 1901 took place. 

 

1984

 

The first revival team on the Morris Dancers Ground 
on May 26th, 1984
Outside the Red Lion, Dover Lock,
on June 28th 1986

Rather than waiting another 21 years, the performance is now an annual event, the dancers going about their rounds of Abram, Bickershaw, Hindley and Platt Bridge on the last Saturday each June. Membership of the team is by annual invitation and practices are held at the Dover Lock Inn (formerly the Red Lion) on the 4 preceding Tuesday evenings. The dancers wear a costume based on the 1901 team: straw boaters; white shirts; white waistcoats; black trousers; waistbands; black shoes; blue sashes edged with pink and decorated with rosettes; and white handkerchiefs.

 

Processing down Bickershaw Lane towards "Brookside" Dancing at "Brookside" in 1986


Of the original team from 1984, 8 are still active in the team and 5 have taken part in every year's performance since then. The "Queen" and her attendant "King" are however different each year.

 

Outside the Bucks Head, Abram, with Annie Higham, daughter of Peter Grimshaw one of the 1901 team Dancing in Keats Avenue on a  rather wet day
 
In 1994 the team was selected to represent Wigan at the International Folk Festival in Angers, France, Wigan's twin town. In addition to dancing in the streets we had to put on a 30 minute performance at the town's municipal theatre - rather difficult when the entire purpose of the team is to perform one dance lasting less than five minutes! However, extra practices were held throughout the summer and the Wigan St John's Morris Dance and also a local garland dance were added to the team's repertoire. These extra dances, together with musical turns and clog dancing displays from members of the team enabled us to put on a full 30 minute performance which was very well received. We were given the rare honour of being invited back to the festival the following year. The Wigan St John's Dance is now firmly established in the team's repertoire and is performed at selected venues during the annual performances on the last Saturday in June.

 

Performing in La Place de la République, Angers The Wigan St John's Morris Dance


In 2007, on one of the wettest days of dance since 1984, the event was filmed by Tradition Films who had been commissioned to produce a DVD about heritage in Wigan. The section about the dance was one of 12 films which made up the finished DVD which was finally published in September 2011. The full Abram Morris Dance section can be viewed on their website and is also available on YouTube.


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