A brief history of Cogs and Wheels

In the beginning:
Cogs and Wheels Ladies Morris started in 1996. There were 9 of us – Brenda, Fiona, Libby, Sallie, Shirley Denford, Sue, Yvonne and later that year Annabel and Audrey. After seeing Heather and Gorse dance at Finch Foundry St Clems Day Brenda and Yvonne thought ‘we could do that’, so we asked Shelagh and Mike to come and teach us. The silhouette image used on our programme etc shows 6 of the original dancers 1 & 2 are Shelagh and Shirley, in the middle at 3 & 4 are Libby and Fiona, and at the end in 5 & 6 are Sallie and Yvonne.

We began our practices in the gallery of Finch Foundry. The floor was a bit bouncy and the display screens would dip in and out as we danced. The people working in the shop the next day would comment on the level of dust we generated. Mike was our solo musician as well as foreman, ably assisted by Shelagh. Our first dances were Jenny Jones, Haste to the Wedding, Shepherd’s Hey, Bumpus o’ Stretton and even Bonny Green Garters. Our kit was discussed by us all and decided upon – to reflect the colours of Dartmoor; then there was a workshop for those who could attend and skirts, waistcoats and blouses were made. Most of the hankies were hand-stitched by Yvonne’s mum.

Officers for 2022/2023
Squire –  Ania Grabowska
Bag – Donna Tombs
Rag bag – Sarah Miller
Treasurer  – Lesley Terrell
Foreman – Jenny Frangleton
Publicity/Pub Stands – Lesley Terrell
Musicians – Mike Palmer, Corinne Beeby, Morris Elsworth, Fiona Elsworth, Paul Cherrett
Website – Donna Tombs
Contact person – Donna Tombs    Email: cogsandwheelsbag@gmail.com Telephone: 07711 294331

As a group we have generally danced close to home. With new blood has come the desire to be more adventurous and we now have enough dancers who want to go to festivals and enjoy performing more often than merely Thursday evening at a nearby pub. Our practice venue has moved from Finch Foundry, to Church House, to Sticklepath Village Hall and currently at South Zeal Victory Hall. We have also used The Methodist Church Hall in Okehampton, Throwleigh Village Hall, Whiddon Down Village Hall and Meldon Village Hall.

In 2001 we held our ‘Grand Day Out’ to celebrate 5 years of dancing. The invited sides all came! Winkleigh Morris, Wreckers Morris, Raddon Hill Clog Morris. In 2006 we hosted ‘A Decadent Day Out’ to celebrate 10 years. This time we needed 2 coaches for our invited sides.
Other events have been 2 workshop weekends with Sompting Village Morris when we concentrated on Maids of the Mill and Portsmouth, then Old Molly Oxford; and a day workshop to learn ‘Banks of the Dee’.
We have managed one tour to foreign lands when in 2009 several members went to France.


Cogs and Wheels dance their way to a fund-raising success.

At the beginning of their practice season in October 2011, Cogs and Wheels Ladies Morris were delighted to be able to present a cheque for £7,862 05p to the Exeter based cancer charity FORCE, which does crucial work in assisting cancer patients and their families from all over the region.

The money was raised principally by ‘Westward Hey!, a sponsored ‘marathon’ in May, when members walked and danced their way from Sticklepath near Okehampton to Launceston Castle. Great support was given to the group over the weekend by other Morris sides from all over the South West, including Beltane, Tinners, Grimspound, Winkleigh, Exmoor Border, Cats Eyes Newton Bushel and Heather and Gorse. Many other sides who could not participate made donations. We have been delighted (but not surprised) by the kindness and enthusiasm of our fellow Morris sides.

Despite poor weather, the public were extremely generous in filling our buckets and the pubs we stopped at along the way were most welcoming. Many of the participating pubs returned overflowing collecting tins to us and local businesses also kindly took tins or provided sponsorship. Particular thanks to the Tom Cobley at Spreyton for the T shirts!

Other events included a Lent Lunch, an art exhibition and a book sale, and at all their regular summer dancing the hat has been passed round for the charity. It was a very busy but enjoyable time for the side.  None of this could have been achieved without the involvement of Cogs’ talented and long-suffering musicians and the brilliant support team, who provided safety cover, refreshments and continual encouragement along the way.

The cheque was presented by Yvonne Reason a founder member of the side and mother of Sally, former squire of Cogs and Wheels who sadly lost her battle with cancer at the beginning of the year. The donation was received by Sarah Daniels, Fundraising Manager for FORCE and will go towards the charity’s much needed centre extension.



Cogs and Wheels Bag
Donna Tombs
Email: dtombs65@gmail.com