Traditional folk music, dance and customs - Harrogate, North Yorkshire - Chas Marshall's Website

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I was born in Tadcaster and christened plain John Marshall. I originally thought that our family was descended from an old Tadcaster family, but my brother Robert's research has revealed that my great, great, great grandfather emigrated from Ireland to Yorkshire during the potato famine in the late 1840s.

When our family moved to Harrogate I attended the Grammar School where Malcolm Johnson, who was seated at the desk right behind me, started to call me "Charles" - for reasons known only to Malcolm! This was later shortened to "Chas" and the nickname stuck and was adopted within the folk scene in which I was soon to become involved.

Malcolm and I were members of a teenage R and B group called "The Railroaders" with Stu Beever, Ken and Colin Vince. The ticket alongside shows a price of three shillings and six pence - 17.5p in today's money! Malcolm and I began to visit the Harrogate Folk Club in the mid 1960's when it was held in the West Park Hotel. I have been interested in things folk ever since, developing a love for most aspects including music, song, drama and dance.

Over the years I have been involved with many different folk clubs and folk groups including:

Fiddler's Feud - a folk group with ace fiddler Kevin Briggs and guitarist Dave Chapman. Winners of the Tarn House Trophy for the Group Section in the Fourth Dales National Folk Contest held in Gargrave during November 1973. It was around this time that I helped Ray Black to run the Harrogate Folk Club when it was held in the Harrogate and West Yorkshire Employee's Social Club in East Parade. Ray is still busy running the Tap and Spile music session and was, until relatively recently involved with the Friday 13th Folk Club.

Kitsyke Will - a folk group with Peadar Long, Bob Thomas and Tony Bayliss. Paedar, Bob and Tony went on to play professionally as Kitsyke Will for a while. After Kitsyke Will folded Bob Thomas, Tony Harris and I played for a while under the hugely original name of "Thomas, Harris and Marshall"!! Bob's vocal talents are still on display with the Wakefield based band the Solicitors and Tony Harris is currently playing with the excellent trio Hoover the Dog. Tony Bayliss continues to be active musically with his celtic rock and roll band Jiggerypipery.

Watch out for the Kitsyke Will reunion concert at Knaresborough's Frazer Theatre on Friday 7th November 2014 as part of the Knaresborough Mummers' 40th anniversary celebrations. They are also performing other at other locations and dates around this time.

British Queen - a Bradford based Ceilidh Band with whom I "depped" for a while playing the mandola.

Hop Back Jig and Village Hop Band - Ceilidh Bands

Knaresborough Mummers - research into the mummers play led to the discovery of a local mumming tradition - the Blue Stots' Plays. See Publications and Articles. In 2004 the Knaresborough Mummers reached their 30th "birthday" and Hedingham Fair were commissioned to produce the celebratory card shown below. Roosters Brewery were also commissioned to produce a celebratory ale, named "King Slasher" after a character from the Blue Stots' Play. The Pump Clip shown alongside depicts Knaresborough Mummers founder member John Burrell in his customary role of King Slasher. During his 30 years with Knaresborough Mummers, John has clocked up some 1500 mumming performances.

In November 2014 the Mummers celebrated their 40th anniversary!


Pomfret Morris - Pontefract based Cotswold Morris side specialising in the Bucknell Tradition.

Hornblower Morris - Ripon based Cotswold Morris Team which was superceded in 1982 by Ripon City Morris Dancers.

Betty Lupton's Ladle Laikers - I was the first musician and a founder member for this Harrogate Ladies' Morris Team formed in the Queen's Silver Jubilee year of 1977.

Ripon City Morris Dancers - I was the first Captain and a founder of this men's North West Morris team which was formed in 1982.

The Harrogate Folk Packet - an umbrella name used by local folk groups and clubs who staged the show "Alive and Kicking - a Miscellany of Morris, Musing and Mumming" at the Harrogate Theatre in June 1987. I was both co-writer and co-producer of this show which was based on some of my ideas, after we were approached by the Theatre to put on a fundraising production. This one-off performance raised £1000 for the Theatre and involved Betty Lupton's Ladle Laikers, Knaresborough Mummers, Ripon City Morris Dancers, Claro Sword and Morris Men, Blind Jack's Folk Club and Fred Pigeon's Polka Band. The full script is available in Publications and Articles.


Flag and Bone Gang - I was yet another founder member of this Harrogate based team developing dances based on Paul Davenport's "Forgotten Morris".

Royal Preston Morris Dancers - this team was formed by the merger of Preston Royal Morris Dancers and Royal Lancashire Morris Dancers. See Publications and Articles.

Clogarhythm - a clog step dance team formed in 2002.

Blind Jack Project - assisting Mark Ellison on this Yorkshire folk song initiative in aid of Henshaws Society for Blind People, supporting musical activities at Henshaws College in Harrogate and Henshaws Arts & Crafts Centre in Knaresborough. The Blind Jack CD cover is pictured alongside.

Clogfest - is a unique celebration of step dancing which takes place annually in Skipton. It’s the only festival exclusively for the step clog dance community - not Morris, Appalachian, or any other dance style. In recent years I have been co-opted on to the committee.

Northern Lights - is the name of a folk dance display from the Northern Dance Centre, originally founded by Margaret Allenby-Jaffe BEM. Heather Hazell, Dave Blight, Dan Harman and I have provided the music for folk dance displays at Clogfest and the Llangollen Eisteddfod in 2007, 2009 (when the team won first prize in their competition) and 2011. I also worked with Northern Lights rapper sword team under the tutelage of Damien Barber. The rapper team competed at DERT in 2010. Northern Lights will be appearing at Llangollen again in July 2014.

Harrogate Dramatic Society - in 2011 I was asked to help with the production of Dad's Army. One scene, "The Godiva Affair", includes some morris dancing. Here is a video including a montage of photographs and a full clip of the morris dancing.

The full cast of Dad's Army in the finale sketch "The Floral Dance" - October 2011

Hadrian Clog - when time permitted, I played for the dancing of this lively clog step team. Sadly lack of transport makes this impossible any more.

The Stean Cottage Band - an occasional mini-band with Nick and Mary Barber. Have a look at my Barber's Shop towards the end of this page

Compleat Anglo CD - Nick Barber has finally cajoled me into recording some tunes for him, which I did in February 2017. He has made a splendid job of creating a CD including contributions from himself and his wife Mary.

As Nick says on his website "an exceptional collection of really interesting tunes beautifully played on solo anglo concertina by Chas Marshall. Hear the anglo concertina as it really ought to sound. Every penny of the modest £10 (+£1 p&p) price goes to Chas's chosen charities - the Motor Neurone Disease Association and the Great North Air Ambulance".

Nick found inspiration for the cover from the book called "The Compleat Angler" by Izaak Walton.

I hold a small stock of Nick Barber's Tune Books and CDs for local delivery or collection - I think of this as my "Barber's Shop"! The stock includes:

English Choice (the red book) with the Bonny Kate and Lovely Nancy CDs

English Selection (the blue book) with the Grand Chain and Oldham Rant CDs

English Rebellion CD Four Across

Nick and Mary Barber CD Crossword

The prices are very competitive. Alternatively, for those living further afield from Harrogate why not try online at The NickWorks Shop?

For more information (since publication) about the tunes in English Selection and an alphabetical tune index see Nick's comments page.

In the 1960s and 1970s it was often necessary to become a member of a folk club and club-goers were issued with membership cards. This is a fine example from the Brig Folk Club showing some etched glass from the venue which was the Adelphi in Lower Briggate, Leeds.

On the subject of the early days, why not check out Mark Ellison's wikispaces web site for information about of the history of folk clubs in the Harrogate area? As a result of correspondence concerning the sad passing of Ernie Green, one the founding fathers of the Harrogate Folk Club, I received this file containing some early photos from Alan Kind, the son of Stuart Kind who appears in some of the pictures.

Over the years I have tinkered with stringed instruments such as guitar, mandolin and tenor banjo, but now I play mainly anglo-concertina.

My lovely wife, Viv Graham, was stricken with Motor Neurone Diseaese far too early in her life and sadly died on 17th April 2020. In the last months, when the carers took her to bed, she would say to me, through her Eye Gaze PC, "Good night John Lewis Website Design Engineer". I guess that there was some predictive text in that remark, but I still decided to create a page for her and here it is.

Why www.crimple? The river Crimple runs through the southern parts of Harrogate and this I chose for my host name after exhausting other more obvious possibilities which, I discovered, were already in use! The Crimple name was also used in the early days of the Harrogate Folk Club by the Crimple Mountain Boys, a bluegrass/old-timey band which included the talents of Robin and Barry Dransfield and Roger Knowles. ICI Fibres once had a Research Division close to the river and Crimple was used as the basis of the name "Crimplene".

Updated June 2020.