Although the Bedford Fine Companions name did not exist until 1935 its roots can be traced back to the late 1920’s/early 30’s. Inspired by Cecil Sharp’s collection of English Folk Dances & Songs a group of dancers led by Thomas Northern, head teacher at Clapham Road School, gathered to engage in Folk, Sword & Morris dancing. Collectively they were known as “The Old Moles”.
A Morris ring was being formed nationally and the Morris group joined in 1934 under their chosen name of The Bedford Morris Men. Later, in 1935 the social dance group led by Fred Hamer chose to call themselves The Bedford Fine Companions.
In 1936 Fred married Olive Newmam and together they led the group on Friday evenings in Clapham Road School.
During the war (1939-1945) along with other Folk Dance groups in the county club nights & local events went on whenever possible. At the end of the war the club received an injection of vigour with the return of the fighting men.
In 1947 Fine Companions was affiliated to the English Folk Dance & Song Society (EFDSS) and were invited to dance and sing at the Royal Albert Hall Folk Festival.
During the 50’s there was quite a strong American influence which introduced the name “Square Dancing”. This became very popular and this popularity was increased by the interest shown by both the Queen & Princess Margaret. Indeed Princess Margaret became president of EDFSS, & some senior Fine Companions members met her at Cecil Sharp House.
The period between 1960 and 1980 saw both the fortunes and the number of members fluctuate.
An important feature for many years was the Annual Dance for children, with many schools in the county bringing teams to the event.
Fine Companions’ venue changed a number of times – partly because of the numbers and partly according to where Fred or Olive were teaching. At different times Ampthill Road, Silver Jubilee and Queens Park Schools were all used.
The club now meet at Hazeldene Lower School where the club continues to flourish and to enjoy English Country Dancing with membership around 70. Friday evening Social Dancing is held during term time and a bi monthly public dance is held at Newnham Middle School. Dancing continues during the summer holiday with 4 or 5 garden dances.
2010 ROGER NICHOLLS GETS HIS JUST DESSERTS AT THE CHRISTMAS DANCE
ROGER NICHOLLS was presented with the EDFSS GOLD BADGE AWARD. Dignitaries in attendance were Michael and Mary Wilson-Jones respectively Secretary and Treasure of EFDSS and Dennis Smith another Gold Badge holder. Apart from dancing called by different club callers everyone was entertained by West Gallery Choir, The Bedford Morris men and the Fine Companions Display Dance Team. The presentation speech was made by Michael Wilson-Jones and as requested by Roger, Dennis Smith presented The Award.