Copyright: www.earlsdonmorrismen.org.uk Page last updated: 03/09/2020
Terry Fairless (a.k.a. the Fatman) and John McIntosh (a.k.a. Tool) first saw North-West Morris on Saturday 12th September, 1970. They were both members of the Coventry Mummers and were duly required to assist Coventry Morris with various duties during their Ring Meeting. They were shepherding Greensleeves Morris and Colne Royal Morris Men around Warwickshire and were in Bancroft Gardens (Stratford upon Avon) for the first stop. Tool asked Julian Pilling (the Saint Julian in the 'Clog and Bells') if Colne Royal would do two dances to start the show, and they “were blown away” with what they saw: the costume, the sound of the clogs, the big band, the whole thing. They turned to each other and said "we want to do this."
The following February (1971), on a visit to Cecil Sharpe House, they discovered that there was quite a lot of relevant information in the Vaughan Williams Library and the Fatman spent the afternoon copying out various dances and tunes. They had enough to start and although some of the Northwest teams complained about a troupe of Midlanders muscling in on their tradition, Derek Frome from Manchester Morris Men taught them Colne and wished them luck.
For the first couple of years, to raise money to buy kit and equipment, they danced Cotswold as most of the new recruits had done this before. Early practices were in the Gosford Park Hotel, but they soon moved to the Royal Oak in Earlsdon, rehearsing Preston Royal as well as Colne, and anxiously waited for a call from Jack Ashcroft, a clogmaker in Leigh, to tell them that their clogs were ready. The first public performance in the North-West style was in a tent by the Belgrade theatre, Coventry in 1973.
With thanks to John McIntosh.