Broomedge Morris


The Higgins Family
Shirley Bancroft (nee Higgins) was a dancer with Broomedge Morris and Broomedge Acrobats from 1950/51. Her auntie Alice Walker (nee Higgins) and later her father Bill Higgins had trained the troupes.
Bill Higgins and his sister Alice had danced in the Statham troupe before the war. They both danced in the 1928 Statham Whit-Monday Festival and maybe in the 1927 festival. 

Bill was 10 years old when he first danced, and he wore short velvet trousers, a white shirt decorated with ribbons of cloth, a flowered hat, bells and two large handkerchiefs to make the distinctive cracking sound of the old Lymm dance. The troupe was then run by Bill and Alice's father and mother, Danny and Polly Higgins. The Mr. Higgins, from the early men's troupe, that was Louie Booth's father, (or more correctly step-father as she was originally Louie Blease) was also Bill Higgins's father. Bill's brother Sam Higgins told me on August 25th 1980 that Louie was his sister. Sam said he did not know that his father had danced in the old Lymm Morris Dancers!

Francesca Hall (nee Matulko)
Fran started dancing with Broomedge in 1952 aged 7 years and danced until 1967.
Fran remembered starting the Lymmdale Entertainers in 1968 and she danced until she retired in 1978.

Joyce Callaghan (nee Bell)
Joyce had been a leader at one time, and they could recall clearly how they had danced between them. They talked of coming on in 2 lines and casting out, moving into fours, performing stars, etc.. They remembered simple stepping being changed to a more complex step and that this had made the timing and positioning of the movements much more difficult to control.

Broomedge Morris

Broomedge Morris Dancers were formed in 1946 by Alice Walker of Cherry Lane and, when she became adjudicator for the Lancashire Carnival Association in 1951, her brother William Higgins of Eagle Brow, took over, helped by his wife Jessie Goddard. 

1956 Broomedge

Until 1956 the troupe was mixed, but as the boys grew older, they dropped off and new boys did not join. Bill was disappointed about this, and it was his ambition to see a boys section developed by the early 1960's. 

1962-3 Broomedge

In 1961/62 Bill only had 4 boys interested and he needed at least 6 so his ambition was never fulfilled.

The Broomedge Morris Dancers and the Broomedge Acrobats travelled all over Lancashire, Cheshire and Staffordshire attending carnivals where competitions were staged. 

In the early days the troupes and their supporters, mainly parents, used to travel in a cattle truck which hopefully had been cleaned out specially on the Saturday morning! 1/- per child and 2s/6d per adult was charged for the transport and this was just enough to cover expenses. 
(Note: One shilling = 5 new pence, two shillings and six old pence = 12.5 new pence).

Later when coaches had to be hired, it became necessary to win competitions to cover the costs!
The prizes were usually only 6 for first, 4 for second and 2 for third. At the first "world championships" held on the Isle of Man, first prize was 150.

Early in 1961 Broomedge were struggling for members and the troupe was in danger of folding, but appeals for help produced sustained efforts from friends and supporters and the flagging troupe revived. 

In the September of that year they won the Belle Vue Railway Carnival silver cup, having unsuccessfully entered the competition for the previous 10 years! 

During 1961 Broomedge had built up to 28 members - all girls ranging from 7 to 19 years old, and in that year they won 7 first prize silver cups, 6 second places and 1 third place. Broomedge won the Lymm Entertaining Cup in 1959, 1960 and 1961.

Broomedge Morris Dancers, later to be the Broomedge Blue Streamers and the Broomedge Entertainers Troupe, or Broomedge Acrobats practised in a hut in Broomedge - off Burford Lane, and another practice session was at Holt's Cafe on the lower dam. 

Broomedge Entertainers took first prize at Whitchurch Show and Carnival in 1964 on August Bank Holiday.

The morris troupe danced with 'shakers' or 'shelalees' and the 'entertainers' or 'acrobats' performed more gymnastic and acrobatic displays.

Bill last danced with his boys and girls in 1962 at the age of 44, when they were short of numbers. He stopped running the troupes in 1971, and like his sister before him, became an adjudicator, judging competitions in the area (his turn to give marks for deportment, timing, rhythm, dress and co-ordination of movement).

Bill regretted that the music had become pre-recorded on records or tapes when previously troupes had danced to live brass bands, and he saw this as a retrograde step for the tradition.

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Text © 2002 Geoff Bibby
Site maintained by Andrew White, Thelwall Morris Men