Clog dance competitions have always had a history of causing disputes. The revived Northumberland and Durham Championship of 1935 was no exception!
He first enquired whether the…shuffle off the toe has to be after dancing the full ten steps, and whether it has to be a double, single or treble shuffle.
Whatever reply he got he was evidently not satisfied and later wrote: Is this a clog dancing championship to be held at Stanley in March a revival of stage dancing, or a set of surprises? In the first place Mr Robinson says all the competitors are to dance on a three feet square pedestal with a glass top. This is pedestal dancing. Why not put the competitors on the open stage as was done at the Queen’s Theatre, Gateshead, in 1908? Why the illumination? The audience will neither see the judges nor the dancers. Where is the going to be to judge the carriage of the dancer? And what about the hornpipe? The management should send all the competitors a piano copy of the orchestra score. Then they would know what they were training for.
In the event, Jimmy Ellwood was unplaced, a result with which he did not agree, believing that he should have been 5th! The following appearing in the press after the competition: The veteran clog dancer, Jim Ellwood, has written to me from 14 Duke Street, Whitley Bay-and is in a challenging mood. ‘Please allow me’, he writes, to challenge T. Pritchard of Stocksfleld, to dance again for the fifth prize medal he received in the clog dancing championship contest at Stanley on June 29th. A sporting gentleman is prepared to deposit £5 for a side stake on my behalf to dance in any theatre or hall.’ . Conditions suggested are that the proprietor of the hall or theatre shall appoint the judge, each dancer to choose his own musicians, and to dance on the same conditions as in the championship contest. ‘If Mr Pritchard accepts this challenge’, the veteran stipulates, it must be before the 8th, 9th or 10th of August as after that I am booked up.
Tom Pritchard did not, apparently like Jimmy’s terms and the correspondence continued: The veteran clog dancer Mr Jim Ellwood, has written to me from Whitley bay, indicating his willingness to dance Mr T. Pritchard, of Stocksfield, for £5 a-side – and leaving out of the contest any question of the medal awarded to the latter at the Stanley championship contest. Various stipulations are made in regard to the steps to be danced, the hall and the judges. It is not possible for me to enter into all these conditions here, and so I have sent Mr Ellwood’s letter on to Mr Pritchard and must leave it to the principals personally to discuss conditions.
Mr George Macintosh, the World’s champion dancer, has written to me from 64
Leazes Park Rd, Newcastle, offering to give a silver cup if the match is arranged – ‘with
the proviso that they dance for £5 a-side and select their own judges.’ The selection of
the referee is to be left to someone else.
The event seems eventually to have fallen through however as in a later letter Jimmy
makes it clear that he will compete no more:
In answer to Mr T. Pritchard of Stocksfield I cannot Stand the Idea of allowing a \^
Pupil of mine in Harry Robinson to stand has judge in Dancing I also object to Mr Dicky
Ferrell has he said I was due to the 5th Prize Medal in the Clog Dancing Championship
held at West Stanley on June 29th Mr Will Percival Winner of 8 medals and Holder of
Dan Leno and Tom Ward Belt has wrote to me saying I was Due to the 5th Pnze Mr
Warren Doyle late Champion Clog Dancer of North of England says I am due to 5th PnzeWm
McSparron Jack Astor and other Competitors say I am due to 5th Prize So I am
writing to say I did my best to try an revive the old time clog Dancing but from now I
will not Dance in no more Competitions or Matches I had 8 Pupils in the last Contest
beside myself and I am Proud to think I had 2nd and 3rd Prize Winners in the Final. I
might say I learned them Steps I could not do myself in the Semi Final I had to fall back
on the easy 10 steps and Shuttle It is a coincedense for me to win my first Dancing
Contest in Fosters Concert Room in the Stanley Hotel Stanley in 1888 a Purse of Silver
12 Threepenny Pieces and now to Dance my last Contest in the Vic Cinema Stanley
1935. So if Mr T. Pritchard wishes to choose his own Judge has he says in his challenge I
cannot I cannot see where I will get a chance to win so I will [….] out of all contests in
the Future and let the [young?] Dancers have their Fling. Yours Truly
Jim Ellwood Veteran Clog Dancer