Morris dancers from Oz
Wednesday 19th August 2015 @ 19:42 by Nigel Skinner
Community Mossley & Saddleworth News

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Morris dancers will forge a remarkable link this weekend between Saddleworth and its namesake – 10,000 miles away in Australia.

Because  a team from Down Under will be dancing at the legendary Saddleworth Rushcart Festival  which weaves a colourful mosaic across local villages.

And the Adelaide Morris Men are bringing a VIP letter of greeting from the the Mayor of Saddleworth South Australia to Saddleworth Parish Council.

The Aussie  Saddleworth settlement was named in 1844 by the early pastoralist John Masters after his home community.

Its website says it  is still a pastoralist area, acting as a service town for a  local rural community with the main activities centred on  wheat, barley, sheep and cattle farming.

The Clare Valley itself represents an authentic slice of country life offering  intimate villages, cycling the Riesling Trail, or exploring one of region’s award-winning wineries.

Speaking from Australia, Bill Singleton, one of the Adelaide side, revealed he performed at  Saddleworth Rushcart in the mid 70’s with with the  Adlington and Gorton sides.

He said: “Our Adelaide  side started around 40 years ago and we still have some of

the earliest dancers with us.

“A number of us have been members of English morris sides,  and we  toured the UK  a couple of years ago where we became members of the English Morris Ring and hosted a Ring Meeting in Adelaide with visiting English sides.

“I used to work on the railway and  designed the track layout in Rochdale and gauged the Oldham rail tunnels ready for the electrification that never happened.

‘We have a couple of our number on their first ever visit to England. But we are all looking forward to a chat over a beer.”

Ed Worrall, the newly-elected squire  of Saddleworth Morris Men, said: ” We danced with the Adelaide side at an  event a few years ago and they got in touch about Rushcart for this year.

“They’re over for about two weeks, dancing with various Morris teams, but they timed their trip to make sure

they could appear at our  Rushcart Festival.

“Their  reputation is quite big in the Morris world, and the local link to Saddleworth in Australia makes it even more of a reason. We think they’ll be blown away!”

And Councillor Neil Allsopp, chair of Saddkeworth Parish Council,  said: “We are delighted to welcome

the Australian side  to our community.”

Meantime, the  Saddleworth team treasurer, Mark Atherton, is limbering up for his journey as “jockey”  on top of the giant Rushcart as it sways round the villages.

The Rushcart itself us kept at his farm in Diggle and he said: “I can hardly believe it’s my turn to have the privilege of being this year’s jockey and riding it around the Saddleworth villages.”

And he urged spectators at the event to contribute to the cost of keeping the ancient tradition alive.

“It  takes a huge amount of effort and money to organise the event,” he declared. “Last  year cost more than  £3,600  so please give generously so we can give some money to charity and stage the event again next year.”

Dance Rota

Saturday (22):

Uppermill Square:  9,30 a.m unveiling of the banner;  Greenfield: King William IV 10.45 a.m  – 11.30a.m;

Uppermill: Museum Car Park, St.Chad’s Gardens, Hare & Hounds, Conservative  Club 12.00 – 1.30 p.m (Lunch Time).

Delph:  2.15 p.m  – 3.45p.m: Gartside Street; White Lion.

​Dobcross Square: 4.15 p.m  – 5.15 p.m;

Dobcross The Navigation:  5.30 p.m  – 6.30 p.m.

Sunday(23): Depart

Uppermill Square arrive St Chads Church for 11am service.

12.15 p.m 2.30 p.m : Church Inn/ ​​​​​​Cross Keys:

Report by KEN BENNETT