Poems, dancing, music and scooters celebrate Byron Festival

Nottinghamshire police band entertained the visitors.
Nottinghamshire police band entertained the visitors.

Hucknall’s eagerly-awaited Byron Festival got off to a flying start with morriss dancing on the Market Place and the fun and frolics continued all week and continues until Sunday.

Members of the Ripley Morris Men did their Gene Kelly bit by performing in the rain at the Thursday evening launch event with spectators invited to join in.

The Ellenismos Greek dance team entertained the visitors.

The Ellenismos Greek dance team entertained the visitors.

The Morris Men’s appearance was the curtain-raiser to a Poems, Pints, Pimms and Players event at the nearby John Godber Centre.

This was organised by Hucknall poet Carl Chamberlain and a highlight was the presence of ‘Lord Byron’ himself, alias Chip Colquhoun in elegant costume.

Actress and author Christy Fearn presented her work, Byron The First Rock Star, in which she said the poet sometimes changed his public persona in the same way as David Bowie.

One of Byron’s foremost “groupies” was Lady Caroline Lamb, who famously described him as “mad, bad and dangerous to know”.

Copies of Christy’s new book, Framed - a historical novel about the revolt of the Luddites - were available at the event.

Carl’s short play, Byron’s Town, then followed and the entertainment was rounded off by The Most Ugly Child Band, who specialise in foot-tapping cajun, blues and folk songs.

The big day was on Saturday at Newstead Abbey when a full programme of events took place from a teddy bears’ picnic to poetry readings, performances by Nottinghamshire Police Band and Ellenismos Greek Dance Team and ‘The Little White Lady’ talk by David Herbert.

Among other events, people took part in a sponsored swim in aid of Help for Heroes and there was a basketball competition. Sherwood MP Mark Spencer was also on hand to take part in some of the activities.

“The whole festival has been very good and well attended with hundreds of visitors at the countless events held throughout the week,” said chairman of the Byron Festival Committee, Ken Purslow. “The committee of volunteers have worked really hard for many months to make it all possible and I’d like to thank them all for their efforts.”

A play by Ian Frost and Bill Studiford entitled ‘Byron and his Loves’ failed to draw the crowds.

“It was very disappointing,” added Ken. “They are a pair of real professional performers and people missed a real treat.”

A special event looking at the history of Hucknall takes place tomorrow as part of the Byron Festival.

The free event takes place at the Central Methodist Church Hall in Market Place, Hucknall between 10am and 3pm. Refreshments are available.And there will be a talk about ‘Byron’s Romantic Attachments’ at Hucknall Library at 2.30pm by Ralph Lloyd-Jones.