- Who are Leeds Morris Men
Who are Leeds Morris Men
Leeds Morris Men are a Morris Dancing side from Leeds in West Yorkshire. We generally perform dances from the Cotswold tradition though we have been known to perform dances from sword and Welsh border traditions. The club has been in existence for over 60 years. – check out our history
We dance out at pubs in and around Leeds during the summer months and also attend various festivals and Morris dancing weekends across the country.
Leeds Morris Men are a Cotswold Morris side in Leeds, West Yorkshire. We’ve been in operation for over 6 decades.
Leeds Morris Men were founded by a group of Leeds University lecturers and research students in 1950 as part of the University Folk Dance Club. Since 1971, the club has operated an open membership policy.
The club’s founder was Ted Purver. He had danced with Cambridge Morris Men and was disappointed to find that there was at the time no Morris in Leeds. He quickly found two others who were keen to take part in the Morris: Clifford Barstow and Norman Peacock. The club was duly established with Ted as its squire (1950-51) and was ready to undertake its first public performance at the inaugural Inter-Varsity Folk Dance Festival in Leeds in February 1951.
In the early days most performances were at Inter Varsity Folk Festival events and EFDSS events. In 1953 the club’s annual Whitsun Yorkshire Dales Tour was held for the first time, the men moving from show to show on bicycles. The club became a member of the Morris Ring in 1956. In the early years the club divided its time and energies equally between Cotswold Morris and Longsword and Rapper. Ted Purver and Norman Peacock were responsible for researching the Kirkby Malzeard sword dance, for collecting significant additional information about it and for reviving its regular presentation for the first time for many years.
In 1983 the club was joined by Moss Ambrose who soon revived the role of Fool, which (apart from the Dales Tour when Ellis and latterly Allan Jarvis took it on) had been in abeyance since before the lean years. Moss quickly turned this role into a key element of the club’s relationship with the public.
Up to the present
The club went on to build up close and enduring links with others, most notably Whitchurch Morris Men and Forest of Dean Morris Men. The highlight of the club year remains the much-loved annual tour of the Yorkshire Dales, which has in fact taken place every year without a break from 1953 until the present, a reduced version being held in 2001 due to foot and mouth disease. The Monday tour always begins at 10.00 am in Kettlewell, and the first dance is always The Rose from Field Town. Nowadays this dance is performed in remembrance of our founding members, most of whom have sadly passed on.
In 2000 we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the founding of the club. The event was marked by performing 50 dances on the Horsforth Mile. The 50th anniversary of the first public performance occurred on February 17th 2001, and to mark it we danced outside the University. 2002 saw the 50th Dales Tour, marked by champagne at the Kettlewell show. 2010 saw our “diamond jubilee” and to mark it the club produced a commemorative booklet.
In 2012 Leeds Morris Men held their Diamond Jubilee Tour. With 5 coaches transporting over 200 morris dancers across the Yorkshire Dales, it was a massive undertaking.
Why do we do it? We dance to entertain the public, for other morris dancers, and also for ourselves. We want to ensure this English dance tradition survives and continues to be enjoyed by everyone.