December 8 2013 Latest news:
Monday, September 16, 2013
A surprising sight greeted passengers using Norfolk’s railways this weekend - that of 25 Morris men travelling by train during a whistle-stop dancing tour of part of the county.
Norwich’s famous Morris dancers, the Kemp’s Men finished their year off in toe-tapping style with a mammoth dance event along the route of the Bittern Line Railway between Cromer and Norwich.
They welcomed friends from the Rutland Morris Men, who braved initially blustery conditions, to dance and sing at a string of train stations and pubs along the rail route.
The inspiration for Saturday’s trip was Will Kemp, a colleague of William Shakespeare, who danced from Norwich to London in nine days.
The fun event, nicknamed the “six stations wonder”, was a nod to what was know as Will Kemp’s “nine daies wonder”, although these Morris dancers were happy to let the train take some of the strain.
The day kicked off at 9.15am, where the Rutland Morris Men had to hold on tight to their handkerchiefs as they performed their first dance outside the windy Red Lion at Cromer.
They joined up with the Kemp’s Men at North Walsham and went on to perform their traditional dancing at stations and pubs at Worstead, Hoveton and Wroxham and Salhouse before arriving in Norwich in the late afternoon.
They danced at Norwich station before heading off to the Wig and Pen pub in St Martin-at-Palace Plain and the Coach of Horses in Thorpe Road.
Peter Mayne, one of the Kemp’s Men and a director of Community Rail Norfolk, which promotes the Bittern and Wherry Lines alongside operator Greater Anglia, said passengers had been somewhat surprised to see the dancers boarding the trains.
He said: “There was great support from members of the public, but I think some of the passengers on the trains were a bit surprised when they saw 25 Morris dancers getting into their carriage.
“The day was absolutely fantastic. Despite the grim start to the day when it was quite wet, the elements were really kind to us and we had a wonderful time.
“One of the great high points for me was that we had some young people with us - a 14-year-old and a couple of 16-year-olds who recently went on a Morris dancing weekend away in Cambridgeshire and were able to come back to show what they had learned.
“So we had young people and people in their 70s, so it was a great age range.”
Mr Mayne’s said it was a “lovely coming together” of a railway route which is one of the most successful lines in the country and the songs of the Morris men.
The event was the Kemp’s Men’s last dance of the summer season. To find out more about them visit www.kempsmen.org.uk