Widespread Support for Restoration Project
Messages of Support Received for the Restoration of the Morris Dancers' Ground, Abram
"On behalf of the Westmorland Step and Garland Dancers up here in Cumbria I would like to register our concern about the Abram Morris Dancers' Ground." Gillian Slater, Secretary, WSGD, Cumbria, 12th March 2001.
"It would be a good thing for the Abram Morris Dancers site to be restored." Poynton Jemmers, Cheshire (PoyntonJem@aol.com), 12th March 2001.
"We too are working on a project to restore the ancient Maypole to our town of Otley. The original 'Cross Green' site now is the home of a run down car park - so I readily appreciate some of your problems." Jennie Hooper, Squire of Wayzgoose, Otley, West Yorkshire, 12th March 2001.
"I heartily support the active and innovative attempts of Abram Morris Dancers to renovate a traditional site of dancing in their location. Too often Britain ignores its own traditions, particularly those which are not large scale money makers. It is something that the many foreign performance teams my own group has brought to this country have found difficult to comprehend. On our visits abroad we have always found the local traditions supported by venues owned and maintained by the community councils, funding for performances, sponsorship for trips abroad etc.
Whilst I am aware we have to move into the 21st century in terms of technology and development we would lose a large part of our heart and identity if this was at the cost of our past. Traditional performance groups keep this alive through their time, effort and money. They are a tourist attraction in themselves and can be very able representatives of our culture abroad. What else can we take abroad and say is our own cultural tradition?
I hope therefore that you will look in favour upon the plans that have been submitted to you and give the project your full support." Meg Thomas, Ba, BsC Hon, Cockleshell Clog, Essex, 12th March 2001.
"Could I take this opportunity on behalf of Mucky Mountains Morris of St Helens to offer our support for the restoration of the historic Morris Dancers Ground, Park Lane, Abram, Lancashire." Anne Billinge, Mucky Mountains Morris, Lancashire, 13th March 2001.
"We were very interested to hear of your involvement in the restoration project on the Morris Dancers Ground. It looks like a very worthwhile one and should enable not only a historic site to be restored and used for dancing but also to create a civic amenity for all to use and perhaps encourage visitors to spend more time in the area." David Milner, Mumming Play Co-ordinator, Frome Valley Morris, Dorset, 13th March 2001.
"It is good to see that some of this country's rich heritage is being preserved. I would also encourage Wigan Council to support your plans, which will certainly bring Tourists and other Morris Dancing sides into your local area. If the plans are accepted and carried out, it may be nice to have a day of dance to celebrate the new and improved site." Crawford Kingsnorth, Green Dragon Morris, Suffolk, 13th March 2001.
"I support your hopes to restore the Morris Dancing ground in Abram and would be happy for you to pass my comments to [Wigan] Council." Kate Rose, Team Leader, Chiltern Hundreds Clog Morris, Hertfordshire, 14th March 2001.
"The Society is extremely keen to support Abram Morris with this venture." Tim Walker, Chief Officer, English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS), London, 14th March 2001.
"It is encouraging to know that there are local projects such as your own which would involve the community in furthering the [Red Rose Regional Park's] objectives. I will bring your project to the attention of the main partner organisations and will contact you during any future consultation exercises." J. Sloane, Director of Planning and Development, Wigan Council, 15th March 2001
"We wish you all the best and hope to hear that it is going ahead." Rosie Beaufoy, Secretary of Hereburgh Morris, Harbury, Warwickshire, 16th March 2001
"I will write a letter of support in the next day or so. I am just writing a quick note today to let you know I have received this here in Nigeria, where 'Bonny Belles' is a side that I struggle to keep alive." Vonda Montgomery, Bonny Belles, Nigeria, 18th March 2001
"We are pleased to endorse your campaign to reinstate the Abram village green as a world-famous Morris Dance venue, and wish you success." Rhys Taylor (bagman) and Anne Griffiths (squire Nor'West Arch Morris Dancers of Christchurch, New Zealand, 18th March 2001
"I have been asked by the members of the Broadwood Sword and Morris dancers to express our support for your efforts to restore your local village green. Village greens are of prime importance within a village as a focal point for traditional activities such as fairs and the odd dance or two. At a time when we English are trying hard to find a national identity in an ever changing world, any decrease in the village make-up makes this more difficult. I am sure you will find your local Authorities sympathetic to your cause.
Here in Horsham we find financial support from our local Council, and local businesses, because they realise that our activities bring visitors, and money, into the town. " Robert Weddell, Bagman, Broadwood Sword and Morris dancers, Horsham, 18th March 2001
"We are delighted to hear of your project, as it is important to preserve all aspects of our dance heritage. Like many of the antipodean Morris, we make visits to UK sides and festivals etc. are part of any trip to England. It's a sorry state of affairs if the traditional homes of the Morris cannot have appropriate dance sites. Besides, nurturing the dance is not just a cost - it is an investment - the traditions and culture of Britain have always been an important part of what attracts visitors to your country. Perhaps when the new ground is complete, you could host an international Morris meet." Cheryl Lawton, City of Auckland Morris Dancers, New Zealand, 19th March 2001
"This is a subject close to my own heart, as I danced the Abram Circle dance at a meeting to try to form a federation of North West Sides, led by Julian Pilling of Colne Royal, at a school in Ormskirk, when I lived in Manchester 35 years ago and danced with Manchester Morris Men ." Phil Heming, Tarka Morris Men, Bideford, Devon, 19th March 2001
"On behalf of the John O' Gaunt Morris Men Lancaster I write in support of the above project. The restoration of this ground has to be worthwhile not only for Abram village, which will provide a useful amenity but to provide a historical continuity for the Morris dancing community.
If you require any further help please let me know and following completion of the project perhaps we could be invited to dance there at some time." Rodney Briddon, Bagman, John O' Gaunt Morris Men, Lancaster, 19th March 2001
"Manchester Morris Men have regularly danced the Abram dance as part of our repertoire since the mid 1970's. Any steps which can be taken to preserve and enhance the traditional dancing ground for the dance are to be commended. We wish the restoration project well" Keith Ashman, Bagman, Manchester Morris Men, 19th March 2001
"Rivington Morris would like to express its support for Abram Morris and its efforts to restore the historic Morris Dancers Ground in Abram. We feel certain that the members of Wigan Council would be in favour of restoring an open patch of land in any urban setting in order to improve the surrounding environment, but this particular ‘patch’ with its historical connections and with its strong roots in Abram’s past must surely have even stronger claims upon their support for such a scheme. We do very much hope that they will support this initiative.
We wish you well with the project and hope it comes to full fruition." Hanneke van Dijk, Hon. Secretary, Rivington Morris, Lancashire, 19th March 2001.
"On behalf of the Winchester Morris Men may I add our support to the plans to restore the historic Abram Morris Dancers Ground.
We recognise [the Abram Morris Dance] as part of the English dance heritage so much of which has already been lost. Abram (and Wigan) are lucky to have a tradition that has survived into living memory and which has been successfully revived. I am sure that the town will want to do all it can to preserve these traditions which, we believe, they hold in trust for future generations." Stroph Rayner, Bagman, Winchester Morris Men, Hampshire, 20th March 2001.
"Many thanks for the information that you have sent to Cam Valley Morris Men about the restoration project for the Abram Morris Dancers Ground. We believe that this is a worthy scheme and should be supported by anyone interested in preserving an important vestige of our heritage - a heritage that is growing in popularity in the Wigan area and is extremely popular around this country and in America. Not only it is a matter of preserving a tiny part of our heritage, but it is also an investment in a local amenity and item of some tourist potential - a quirky and unique feature to include in any Wigan guide.
We wish you every success." Simon Gordon-Walker, Cam Valley Morris Men, 21st March 2001.
"The purpose of my letter is to lend my wholehearted support to your efforts... In an age of preservation and restoration this project is important, both for the community of Abram and to the wider morris dance fraternity. We are lucky to enjoy a rich and diverse cultural heritage in terms of morris dance and morris music which we can still perform, but there are very few actual locations which have such a strong resonance with morris traditions. This is an historic site." Chas Marshall, Harrogate, member of Ripon City Morris Dancers, 26th March 2001
"You have our support for your forthcoming project, we wish you every success in obtaining permission in order to further the good cause of Morris Dancing and bring it closer to the people that matter, THE PEOPLE." Mick Sargeant (Bagman), Ewell St. Mary's Morris Men, 27th March 2001.
"Abram Morris Dancers have now been awarded a grant of £1,500 by Shell Better Britain Campaign. The grant will go to assist with the restoration of the Morris Dancers Ground in Abram... [This] is exactly the kind of initiative we want to tell people about. We hope the lead taken by this group will be an inspiration to others." Shell Better Britain Campaign, Birmingham, 27th March 2001
"As the secretary of Winster Morris I thank you for your communication and write in support of your project. We at Winster Morris fully support your objective to restore the historic Morris Dancers Ground at Abram. History is important in every aspect of our lives and particularly in village communities.
We wish you every success in your aims to restore an important cultural location in a manner which will ensure its future use for the benefit not just of the dancers but of the local community and of visitors increasingly interested in the history and development of local dance and entertainment.
Please feel free to use this letter in support of your applications for planning approval and funding for your project." David Mitchell, Secretary, Winster Morris Dancers, Derbyshire, 28th March 2001.
"We are concerned about the condition of the Morris Dancers Ground in Abram and would like to express our support for what you are doing. We hope you get approval and financial support from Wigan Council to restore the site to its former glory.
We in Holland (the team has been dancing regularly since 1935 except for the war years) very much appreciate the survival of English folk traditions and have done a lot to ensure that people over here are aware that England has such traditions. We would not like to see those traditions and the places with which they are associated fade away and become forgotten.... Your dance has a unique position in the English Morris tradition." Antony Heywood, Helmond Morris Men, Geldrop, The Netherlands, March 2001
"We would certainly wish to add our support to your project." Mick Brittain, Bagman, Ripley Morris Men, Derbyshire, 3rd April 2001.
"Good luck with the restoration. I spent some of my early years on the Lancashire Pennines. My mother is from Rochdale and I would like you to forward this to the relevant authorities to let them know the importance of the maintenance of folk culture. I dance with 'Vintage Morris' of Blenheim New Zealand. and we look to Lancashire to maintain these world wide historical linkages. My wife (an MP) and I will be in England during June this year and will check on your progress. Best wishes." Dr. David Scott, a stouthearted morris man, New Zealand, 6th April 2001.
"I write on behalf of Peterborough Morris. We would like to express our support for your project to restore the famous Abram Morris Ground. People all over the world have heard of the Abram Morris Dance, and some have also danced it. Abram is probably more famous for its Morris Dance than its coal. It is therefore much to your credit and to that of the local authority that your restoration project is being taken seriously. May we wish you every success and add our name to the list of supporters for this enterprise." Mike Stevens, Squire of Peterborough Morris, April 10th 2001.
"I have been authorised to write on behalf of the [Local History] Federation [Lancashire] to add our support to your project aiming to restore the traditional Morris Dancers’ Ground, Park Lane, Abram, Lancashire. Projects such as yours, aimed at restoring and bringing back into use derelict land for community purposes have to be applauded at a time when pieces of land such as that on Park Lane are being swallowed up in pocket residential developments. It would be a great shame if this land was lost after 400 years of tradition. The plans .... indicate a sympathetic design, mixing traditional and modern materials and we are pleased to see the reintroduction of native planting to the area. We wish you well in your endeavours and trust that funding bodies will be equally seized with enthusiasm for your plans." Mark Pearson, MRICS, Honorary Secretary, Lancashire Local History Federation, 20th April 2001.
" I am writing on behalf of The Morris Federation to support Abram Morris Dancers of Lancashire in this exciting and unusual project. On this St. George’s Day, a day which is gathering interest and prominence in the English calendar, I ask you to consider the importance of maintaining green field sites within our villages and towns. ... this Ground has the potential of being a gateway to the proposed Red Rose Regional Forest." Fee Lock, Secretary, The Morris Federation, 23rd April 2001.