Slubbing Billy’s are a mixed North West Morris Team, with a reputation for colourful costumes and lively, entertaining dances. The team was formed in 1986, and has a healthy age range, from enthusiatic teenagers to more experienced (mature!) members who have danced with the side since it started.
You can’t miss their distinctive purple, white and red costumes and flowery bowler hats.
The men’s kit of waistcoat, white collarless shirts, black cord breeches, red knee socks and red and gold sashes is similar to that worn by dancers in Lancashire around 100 years ago. It incorporates locally woven woollen cloth in a distinctive purple, and they wear bowler hats which were ‘sunday best’ wear for ordinary men around that time. They all wear clogs, shod with ‘irons’, the traditional footwear of the cotton mill workers. The ladies kit is a practical interpretation of the woollen smock dress favoured by weavers for its simple style. Originally, a shawl would have been worn over the top, but the fancy white blouses worn underneath look far better!
A Slubbing Billy is a machine for putting a twist into freshly carded cotton or wool so that it can be spun. Before the process was mechanised, the unspun fibres were twisted by a skilled worker (a Slubber) on a frame with a long wooden rod, called a billy roller. Slubbers were notoriously intemperate, and as theirs was a trade that the cloth producers could not do without, it was (like cropping, which made the Luddites redundant) soon mechanised.