|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
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.
|The first revival team on the
Morris Dancers Ground
on May 26th, 1984
|Outside the Red Lion, Dover
on June 28th 1986
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
|Processing down Bickershaw
Lane towards "Brookside"
||Dancing at "Brookside"
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
||The Wigan St John's Morris
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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