This film is part of Free

Billingham Week 1964

A heavy dose of folk dance and music lures Billingham shoppers to a modern town centre precinct.

Amateur film 1963 25 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for North East Film Archive


A ballroom beauty queen dance-off, balloon races, civic parade with juvenile jazz bands, and a travelling fairground are amongst an exciting array of events taking place in Billingham to mark the official opening of a new town centre precinct. Folk dance and music are a strong show during a rainy Billingham Week, which hosts fiddler Dave Swarbrick, later with Fairport Convention, and the clog-shod Britannia Coco-Nut Dancers.

Captured in grainy colour by the Billingham & District Cine Club, the 1964 Billingham Week blossomed into the renowned Billingham International Folklore Festival, which now attracts performers from around the world. The festival was the result of a chance conversation that year between the inspired Clerk to Billingham council, Fred Dawson, and Philip Conroy, a teacher and folk dance enthusiast from the Sunderland area, who directed the festival until his death. Dave Swarbrick is pictured with the Ian Campbell folk group but later played on Fairport Conventions seminal album, Liege & Lief, considered to have launched the electric folk rock movement.