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Folklore: Rossendale coco-nutters in the 1930s

Will Fly 18 Jun 10 - 07:49 AM
GUEST,^&* 18 Jun 10 - 07:54 AM
Will Fly 18 Jun 10 - 10:03 AM
GUEST,^&* 18 Jun 10 - 12:20 PM
GUEST,Derek Schofield 18 Jun 10 - 12:24 PM
Will Fly 18 Jun 10 - 12:52 PM
Bernard 18 Jun 10 - 01:40 PM
GUEST,Derek Schofield 18 Jun 10 - 02:21 PM
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Subject: Folklore: Rossendale coco-nutters in the 1930s
From: Will Fly
Date: 18 Jun 10 - 07:49 AM

I've just finished reading "Lancashire For Me", a sort of autobiography by Tommy Thompson who was a broadcaster and writer of dialect stories, film scripts and pieces for the Manchester Guardian in the 1920s and '30s. There's an interesting paragraph in the book which is a contemporary account of morris dancers known as the "Rossendale coco-nutters":

Often, too, the morris dancers came down from the Rossendale valley. These working lads were real tough guys, who thought nothing of dancing twenty and thirty miles, providing there were enough pubs on the way to provide them with sustenance. They were dressed in velvet knee breeches and white tunics and short skirts, decorated with red trimmings, and they carried little mops with ribbons attached. In the palms of their hands they wore "nuts" of wood, and they also had these "nuts" attached to their knees and belts. Sometimes they were known as the "Rossendale coco-nutters." Their dancing was a combination of intricate evolutions, which they emphasised with short leaps and tappings of their "nuts." There is still a band of morris dancers at Bacup in Lancashire, and I introduced them to broadcasting some time ago. Naturally, we could only get the music from their concertina and the tapping of the nuts and clatter of their polished clogs on the stone pavement of a millyard, but it did successfully give the atmosphere.

Interesting to think the coco-nutters and the "tapping of their nuts" were broadcast on the radio.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Rossendale coco-nutters in the 1930s
From: GUEST,^&*
Date: 18 Jun 10 - 07:54 AM

Check 'em out!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Rossendale coco-nutters in the 1930s
From: Will Fly
Date: 18 Jun 10 - 10:03 AM

I'm quite aware of the Bacup dancers - it was the mention of the Rossendale coco-nutters that was the interesting snippet.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Rossendale coco-nutters in the 1930s
From: GUEST,^&*
Date: 18 Jun 10 - 12:20 PM

Apologies for confusing the minutiae of Lancashire geography...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Rossendale coco-nutters in the 1930s
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield
Date: 18 Jun 10 - 12:24 PM

Bacup is in the Rossendale Valley. I think the reference is to the Bacup Nutters.
Derek


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Rossendale coco-nutters in the 1930s
From: Will Fly
Date: 18 Jun 10 - 12:52 PM

It may well indeed be, Derek. It's not clear from TT's description whether the "Rossendale coco-nutters" were the originals of the present Bacup dancers, or whether there were other teams/troupes in the Rossendale Valley. I was just curious, I suppose. Our band plays the "Rochdale Coc-nut Dance" but those dancers, if there were any, have long gone.

Interestingly, the description doesn't mention any blacking up of the dancers, which would surely have been distinctive at the time. And I noted that the musical accompaniment was a concertina. Shame TT didn't mention the tunes, though I doubt he would have known what they were.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Rossendale coco-nutters in the 1930s
From: Bernard
Date: 18 Jun 10 - 01:40 PM

To give them their correct title, the (Rossendale) claim to be unique, and there's no evidence to dispute that claim. It wouldn't be the first time that someone has got the name wrong when reporting on them - often because they haven't taken the trouble to check their facts.

They've researched their history very thoroughly, as you will find if you visit their website.

I quote: "The Dances spread throughout Rossendale and around the turn of the Century there were at least four troupes. One of these was the Tunstead Mill Troupe who celebrated their half century in 1907. It is from this troupe that Britannia is descended."

Perhaps that answers the question?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Rossendale coco-nutters in the 1930s
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield
Date: 18 Jun 10 - 02:21 PM

Yes, the Britannia group started in the early 20s, taught by members of the Tunstead Mill group. See Theresa Buckland's article on Tunstead Mill in Folk Music Journal, 1986.
Derek


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