In the beginning...
Collecting money seems part of the tradition of Sword Dancers. A group of students at King's College, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, decided to raise funds to help the 1949 Rag Week collections on behalf of the North of England Cancer Campaign.
The dance chosen was Winlaton, the two teams taught by Dr. W.F. Cassie. Two musicians, playing mouth organ and tin whistle, and Besom Betty completed the group.
About 120 public performances were given. Wherever the dancers went they were greeted with interest and appreciation, and between £120 and £150 was collected. It was not uncommon for spectators to follow the team round from bar to parlour, and even to the next pub. One of these fans turned out to be one of the older generation of Winlaton men – he danced “in Bill Batey's time.” The week culminated on Rag Saturday, when the team was invited to perform before the Lord Mayor of Newcastle. Some of the dancers danced on a moving lorry as the Rag procession wound throught the streets! They performed on an average every twenty minutes until the pubs closed at 10 o'clock and then went to a dance after that!
All the men thoroughly enjoyed themselves and have now formed a college Morris Club. They are already looking forward to the Hexham Festival.