How our group began...

College in Selly Oak was founded in 1909 by Mr George Cadbury (Junior), the life-long social reformer. He then opened Avoncroft College for the education of farm workers in 1925. The Fircroft Trustees were responsible for the management of Avoncroft College.

In 1940 Mr George Gregg (then Secretary of the Fircroft Trust and later also Principal of the Avoncroft College) and his wife initiated several groups to cater for the cultural needs of the community. The Times Educational Supplement referred to this as "a notable war-time experiment".

These groups were amalagmated in 1946 to form the Avoncroft Arts Society. The college provided facilities and in return the Society was able to contribute to the education of the students, especially those from abroad, who wished to be shown something of the English life and culture.

During the winter of 1947-48 the Folk Dance Group was started under the leadership of Miss Gweneth Foster. She was involved in other groups and was well known for her play-production. Miss Foster's enthusiasm was responsible for the growth of the Folk Dance Group and for the many outside engagements it fulfilled.

In 1954 the Group joined the English Folk Dance and Song Society, and in the January of that year eight members had already represented the county at the Albert Hall Festival. There were also outings to see traditional Morris dancing at Bampton, the International Eisteddfod at Llangollen and the English Folk Dance Society's Festival at Stratford-upon-Avon. "Thus continued one of the most attractive groups of the Society".

Over the years the group has continued to be involved in many events and displays. It is still an active group holding weekly meetings, regular Saturday dances and an annual Playford Ball. The "notable war-time experiment" continues...

Susan Sutcliffe has published a booklet called “The Dirty Hands Brigade” which charts the history of all the groups within the Avoncroft Arts Society.

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