Clog, step and social dance teacher from Ambleside, England.

Joseph William Robinson, known as ‘Old Jos’ was born in 1838, the son of Matthew Robinson a shoe-maker. Born in Cunsay he married 25 December 1861 Margaret Stainton (b. 1839) and together they ran the bobbin mill there. He died in 25th July 1908 at the age of 70 buried 28 July 1908 in Finsthwaite.

First son Stainton Battersby Robinson (1863-1902) taught dancing as did brothers Joseph  William (1877-1951) and Alf (Albert Threlfall Robinson) (1882-1959) His other children, Margaret Jane Robinson (b. 1866.  She married 11/10/1890 Thomas Stainton), Matthew George Robinson (1868-1873), John Thomas Robinson (b. 1871), Catherine Robinson (1873-1942), Mary Ann Robinson (1875-1879) and Robert Henry Robinson (b1879) did not teach. Stainton’s son Joseph (Young Jos) carried his father’s and grandfather’s profession as a part-time dance teacher. Young Jos died in 1926 aged 39. Old Jos also played the fiddle, having apparently made his own instrument and taught himself, and could play and teach at the same time.

The Cunsay bobbin mill burned down in the 1880s and after that Old Jos turned to dancing as a way of earning a living. Among other locations he held weekly classes in Ambleside from October to Easter, running for about 24 weeks using one of the local schools for about 2 hours in the evening.  IT was recalled that in some seasions he would teach at Hawkshead on Monday, Ambleside of Tuesday, Grasmere on Wednesday, and  Bowness-on-Windermere on Thursday. In addition to teaching dancing he also taught his pupils ballroom etiquette.  At the end of the season there was a ball when the parents of the children attending the classes were invited and there were a number of performances by the class.  There does not seem to have been any social dancing for the parents on these occasions.

He taught the following dances:

Barn Dance
Circassian Circle

Eight Reel
Haste to the Wedding
Heel and Toe Polka
Highland Schottische
La Vasoviana
Military Two Step
Napoleon’s Grand March

Sir Roger de Coverley
Six Reel
Speed the Plough
Square Eight
Three Hand Reel
Waltz Cotillion
Waltz Country Dance
Washington Post

He also taught step dancing: Shuffle off, Single Shuffle, Double Shuffle, Treble Shuffle, Crunch, Single Crunch, Double Crunch, Hagworm Crawl, Shuffle and Stamp, Double Treble, Heel and Toe, Rolling and Pick the Shuffle.

He also taught a children’s dance for girls called the Hoop Dance a Garland Dance and a number of solos or character dances:

Butterfly Dance
Fairy Queen
Garland Dance
Highland Fling
Horse to Newcastle
Irish Jig
Nigger Dance
Plaidie Dance
Sailors’ Hornpipe
Skirt Dance
Sword Dance
Tambourine Dance

His pupils included:

Mrs George Airey
Tom Barnes
T.J. Batey
Fred Coward and his wife
Fred Clifton (Jnr)
Mr. T.W. Langhorn
Anthony Leak

Information derived from the relevant census returns, registration certificates and interviews by Tom Flett with Lucy Short on 3 January 1960 (interviewed with Clara Boyle), Gertrude Keith,  8 January 1960,  Dorothy Chaplow (undated), with Mrs George Airey in August 1961, a copy letter dated 10/2/1962,  Kate Foy, undated, Joseph Robinson (undated),  Mrs F. Clark on the  25 August 1962 (plus original notes of the same date), Anthony Leak on  29 August 1962 (and original notes of the same date) Mr and Mrs Fred Coward on 19/9/1962,  Mr T.W. Langhorn on 21/9/1962 and correspondence from Tom Barnes to Tom Flett dated 12 August 1962 and 18/9/1962. Also church registers, Finsthwaite.  1890-1910.


Storey, Mrs W., Stavely, Westmorland, England, 6 January 1960

Wilson, Miss Cissie, Hawkshead, England, 7 January 1960