Morris Dancers Ground
Up Restoration Re-opening 2003 Latest News


No-one knows the exact origins of the Morris Dancers Ground, or how old it is but it appears on the first OS map of Abram, published in 1846 along with Abram Hall, the Baptist Sunday School and Maypole House Farm which was named after the maypole which stood on the Morris Dancers Ground until at least 1913. In the mid nineteenth century when a new pit shaft was sunk nearby it seemed appropriate to name that after the maypole too. When the railway lines to the coal washing sheds and the colliery brick works were laid they were put down either side of the Morris Dancers Ground. This colliery, The Maypole, was the scene of a tragic pit explosion in 1908, seven years after the last known traditional performance of the Abram Morris Dance, when 75 men were killed.

The Morris Dancers Ground belongs to the people of Abram but over the years it has steadily fallen into disuse. In 1922, when the dance failed to take place a local farmer, Mr J T Rigby, wrote to Abram Urban District Council expressing his concern lest the land be lost. Investigations by the Borough surveyor were unable to trace ownership of the land before 1845 when it was in the ownership of Dr Adam Chadwick. The tenants of the land at that time were Thomas and William Lyon. Tithe rent was being paid by the Moss Hall Coal Company, but further investigations by the Council’s law clerk failed to establish any positive information about ownership so in July 1924 four concrete corner posts were erected “on behalf of the young men of Abram”. The ground was visited by representatives of the Council in 1932 on the occasion of the annual inspection of roads.

On July 29th 1968 William Wright, a former Chairman of Abram UDC and son-in-law of one of the 1901 team, applied for Village Green status for the Morris Dancers Ground, and this being undisputed became final on August 1st 1972. Three years later the land was successfully registered as common land and is now in the ownership of Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council.

In 1984 on the occasion of the revival of The Abram Morris Dance the dance was once again performed on the Morris Dancers Ground. The concrete corner posts had long since disappeared and the surface was more pit dirt than grass, but there were two trees growing there and the Morris Dancers Ground was still in reasonable condition for dancing on.

The dance has taken place on the last Saturday in June every year since then but the last ten or so years have seen a rapid deterioration in the site.

 Its location at the end of Park Lane, well away from housing make it a perfect area for dumping and burning out stolen cars, and the spoil heaps just behind it attract more and more scrambler motor bikes which use the area of the Morris Dancers Ground as a convenient turning point. A few years ago the trees were destroyed and the ground has became scarred by ruts up to 12inches or more deep from the bikes, so much so that it was almost impossible to find an area where the dance could take place.


In 1999, we approached the land owners, Wigan Council to request their help in restoring the site and once again “taking it from the waste”! The local Councillors were very supportive and we started to apply for grants towards the cost of the restoration which at that time was estimated to be about £20,000. Our first successful bid provided us with a PC which is now on permanent loan to the primary school, but shortly afterwards the Shell Better Britain Campaign awarded us £1500. Wigan Council gave us £5000 from their Brighter Borough fund and we also received a number of smaller grants from Morris teams, the local EFDSS group and several individuals which took the fund up over the £7000 mark. We had hoped to have the ground restored in time for the Centenary of the last traditional performance in 1901. However, despite our best efforts the fund remained static while the Morris Dancers Ground continued to deteriorate and £20,000 seemed to be an impossible target. The Centenary came and went and still the restoration looked as though it might never happen.

We had been working closely with the newly formed Abram Community Link and in October 2001 new boundary signs went up on the roads leading into the village featuring the team’s maypole, complete with teapot! We hoped that these signs might help raise awareness of the Morris Dancers Ground and lead to further funding but although they helped raise the profile of the tradition the fund remained static.

Then early in 2003 we found out that Metropolitan Training, an approved training provider run by Wigan Council that delivers vocational training in many occupations for between 400-500 trainees, could provide the workforce at no cost as part of their training programme. All we had to do was provide the materials.

Following a site visit in January plans were made for the restoration and work began in May.

You can read about the restoration work here.

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