26 September 2015 - Bath

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The well-organised registration session.
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[Apologies if some photos are difficult to make out. The bright sunshine was welcome for the dancers and audience but not the photographer!]

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The Morris Federation Annual General Meeting is always a good excuse for a Day of Dance and this year the venue was Bath and the hosts were Mr. Wilkins' Shilling. Kettle Bridge were accepted as a participating side and so we booked a variety of accommodation in and around the city.

The weather forecast for the Day of Dance was for warm sun all day and, for once, the experts got it right. The first job of the day was to register at the Friends' Meeting House to confirm that Kettle Bridge had arrived and to pick up tickets for the evening ceilidh.

With the administration out of the way, we made our way just along the road, together with all the other dancing sides, to Kingston Parade, a large paved area adjacent to Bath Abbey and the Tourist Information Centre. Here the event was officially opened by the Mayor of Bath, Councillor William Sandry and this was followed by a show dance from Mr. Wilkins' Shilling.

The hosts had provided a comprehensive guide to who was dancing with whom, when and where. Our first stand was in Kingsmead Square so we made our way through the streets of Bath to the dance location. Here we were accompanied by Winkleigh Morris from Devon and Chippenham Town Morris Men. Incidentally, one of Chippenham's claim to fame is an appearance in a pop video. Click here to see them in action.

The surface in the square was pretty good but the bright sun cast deep shadows which made photography difficult. As normal, we took turns to dance and Kettle Bridge performed Prescot, KBC Processional, Aughton and finally Lostock.

The next stand involved the longest walk of the day for us and, of course, it was uphill all the way. The venue was in George Street, near the top of Milsom Street. Again, the dancing surface was very suitable and we were joined by Pigsty Morris from Bristol and Berkshire Bedlam Morris from Wokingham. Pigsty apparently got their name from a steep section of Gloucester Road in Bristol known as Pigsty Hill which also gave its name to the Pigsty Hill Light Orchestra. Click here to hear them in action (the orchestra, not the morris side).

At this stand, there was time for four dances from Kettle Bridge, namely Shawforth, Colne, Aughton and Marston 8. Then it was a short (downhill) walk to the bottom of Milsom Street, which is actually mentioned in more than one Jane Austen novel. On the way we passed Milsom Place, an area containing an interesting and diverse array of shops and restaurants, and Jolly's, one of the oldest department stores in Europe (now owned by House of Fraser).

The chosen dance spot was fine except that it was adjacent to a road used by buses which had to come very close to the audience to negotiate a sharp bend in the road. It gave the passengers a good (if fleeting) view of proceedings, though. Our companions were Garston Gallopers from East Garston, West Berkshire. Only two sides were scheduled for each stand over the lunch period so that half the teams could seek rest and refreshment. This meant though that we had to dance more often and actually performed four dances (Saint Helens Gala, Aughton, Sidcot and Cossington) before coaxing the audience and members of the Gallopers to join us in Churchtown. Thankfully, it was then time for our lunch break, especially well-deserved after such a strenuous stand.

Suitably reinvigorated, we made our way back to Kingston Parade for our final stand of the day. Here we were joined by

  • Full Moon Morris, a mixed Cotswold side from South Wales who (almost!) take their name from a roundabout on the A467 in the South Wales valleys (visit the History page on their website for the full story)
  • Two Step Clog, a clog dancing duo
  • Minden Rose, a (mainly) garland side from Alton in Hampshire whose name relates to an emblem of the Royal Hampshire Regiment who, at the Battle of Minden, picked roses and put them in their hats before advancing to a spectacular victory

This was undoubtedly the best dancing location of the day. There was a massive paved area to dance on, a large and appreciative crowd and the abbey provided a fantastic backdrop. We performed Prescot, Shawforth (featuring an unscheduled participation by one of the younger members of the audience) and Milnrow. With all the dancing done, there was just time to take the obligatory team photograph before we went our separate ways to rest, eat, drink, attend the AGM, dance at the ceilidh or watch England lose to Wales in the Rugby World Cup!

The day was very memorable for a number of reasons which are all worth mentioning.

  • The weather was sunny and warm all day long.
  • The organisation of the day by Mr. Wilkins' Shilling was brilliant.
  • The dancers excelled for the whole day, displaying great professionalism and stamina.
  • The band were superb for each and every single dance at all the stands.
  • It was wonderful to see Michael back in the band and he did a tremendous job to last all day.
  • Last but not least, this was Val's last event as Squire and how she has managed to organise which dance we did at each stand, in which order and who dances in each position, not just at Bath but for the whole of her tenure is absolutely amazing. Well done and we hope you enjoy having a rest from all that responsibility.


Footnote : There is a very professional video on YouTube that captures some of the action and atmosphere from the day. Click here to view it. Note that they obviously left the best to last!