Film of an old time bargee clog dancing

2 thoughts on “Film of an old time bargee clog dancing”

  1. 2nd correction …

    ‘Old bargee’ – Bill would be turning in his grave!!! This is the redoubtable Bill Gibbons – wide-boatman (NOT a barge or bargee!!) from Burscough on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. The film was made by the late Barry Callaghan of Garland Films sometime in the 1980s. The copyright owner is now Chris Metherell who bought out Garland Films just after Barry’s untimely passing. Sadly the only music for Bill to dance to during the filming was a tape by Jimmy Shand played in Scottish-style!!! The steps that Bill danced, and often taught, were made up by himself. They are basically in 4-bar units. He said that they were really simple foot movements in time to the ‘phut-phut-phut’ of a ‘Bollinder engine,’ and when danced on the boat counter kept the steerer warm in winter!! In the film he is wearing commercial clog dancing clogs whereas the old boatmen wore clog-boots with hob nails or irons (like horse shoes) on the soles. Bill was also instrumental in promoting the local (Burscough) mumming play tradition. And he also knew a social quadrille that was danced in clogs by the local canal boat-people at weddings. Bill’s steps were unique to him. There were other clog and step dance traditions further south on the narrow canals – but these have all gone. However we do know that in the pubs down south the old boatmen (and women) would step dance to a button accordion or melodeon using tunes from popular Music Hall songs of the period say around WW1.

    1. I didn’t mean to cause offence… You might explain the problem, if not for me then for everyone else!

      Otherwise, thanks for the info! and, yes, I knew Barry a little and a very capable, productive and very pleasant chap he was – and a sailing barge enthusiast. But before that I was a Kingsman with Chris Metherell! I get about, it seems 😉


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