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Woodside Morris Men

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Woodside Morris Men

Woodside Morris Men are a UK Morris dance side based in Watford, Hertfordshire. The side dance Cotswold Morris locally in the towns and villages around Watford, Rickmansworth, Hemel Hempstead and St Albans, and further afield at events and folk festivals across the country, as well as occasional trips abroad.

Origins of Woodside Morris Men

Whit Monday tour. Previously the club had flirted with Morris as one of their many folk activities, but it was felt that the time had come for a permanent, dedicated Morris section.

The man charged with organising the new Morris club was Edmund 'Eddie' Reavell. Eddie would go on to become Squire of the side in the long term, but in seeking guidance for getting the club together, and developing a repertoire, he obtained the help of legendary dancer and instructor, Bert Cleaver. Bert Cleaver took on the role of Squire during this formative time for the club, and under his eye, and the organisation of Eddie Reavell, the club gained members, produced a kit utilising a purpose designed tree emblem to reflect the name, and prepared to dance out in public. The first official meeting of the club took place in September 1956, and it was almost exactly a year later that they finally kitted up and danced in anger for the first time.

From the start, [2].

The early years for the club were taken up with local social and community events, regular involvement with Morris Ring meetings, and privately arranged trips to various locations, though Deal, Kent was a particular favourite, in the company of Westminster Morris Men, and later joined by the Hammersmith Morris Men. at this time, there were a few dancers that were involved in just about all of these three side's at one time or another. Bert Cleaver had ended his direct association with Woodside when they reached the stage where they were ready to dance out, and subsequently became involved with a few other London sides, and would go on to become Squire of the Morris Ring. Another busy Morris Man was Hugh Rippon, who at that time was something of a Morris firebrand, being involved with all of these teams to some extent, and remains to this day an influential figure on the English folk scene.

Originally, Watford.

Life in Watford

One of British Rail, and also a member of their British Railways Staff Association, which had premises just off the St Albans Road in Watford. This member was able to arrange a favourable rate for using one of the rooms on a Wednesday evening, for reasons of practise.

As well as the side moving to the area for rehearsals, they also started to gravitate their other activities, such as feast evenings and days of dance, into the surrounding towns and villages.

At this time, London, a legacy that is still apparent today.

Relationships changed with the London. Just as the side were settling in comfortably to their new environment, disaster struck, albeit on a rather minor scale.

In 1969, having discovered that County Council Divisional Education Officer to set up camp on a long term base at Chater School, Watford.

The side moved on and it was business as usual, for a while, when the side moved to the Red Lion in Nash Mills, near Hemel Hempstead. Unfortunately this era saw a dwindling membership, which in turn lead to a reduction in funds, which are usually raised through membership, collections at dance outs and fees for performances. It became difficult to maintain the side, culminating in the team failing to meet throughout the whole of 1973.

Throughout this period, it was down to the determination and correspondence of then Bagman Mike 'Lank' Broughton, that the team continued in even this notional form. Lank was a dancer of many years experience, he had seen William Kimber perform at the Royal Albert Hall, and had danced in Woodside's history would have ended c 1972. Having struggled to raise a side for a number of events in that year, there was no choice but to suspend activities until new membership could be found. Lank already had a plan that he suspected could change the club's current bad fortune, and although the side did not meet during 1973, the Bagman was not idle.

Lank's hard work paid off, and salvation came to the team, providing not only a new base of operations, but also a ready made pool of members.

The Pump House Theatre and Arts Centre

In the early 1970s, the old Water Board buildings just off Woodside a home on Wednesday nights, and in the end a place was found - originally in a much smaller venue than the current Colne River Rooms - on the grounds that the side be associated with the folk club.

The new membership brought with it a slightly changed attitude to dance venues, and the frequency of dancing out. Where Woodside in the local area.

External links

  • Woodside Morris Men
  • The Morris Ring
  • The Pump House Theatre and Arts Centre
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