DANCERS turned out in force to continue a 500-year-old tradition in Maldon.

Plough Monday saw molly dancers paraded through the town from the Quay to the High Street on Monday.

The event dates back to at least 1522 and was revived in the town in 1995.

Groups of molly dancers travel up through Maldon High Street performing their classic style morris dance.

The dancers blacken their faces before taking part in the route to continue the tradition of the events origin.

The practices dates from a time when poor country folk of Essex went unpaid and hungry during the winter, when there was no work.

Carrying a plough door-to-door, the workers would perform dances in exchange for money, food or a sup of ale.

Those who would not hand over anything would have their lawns ploughed up – and the dancers could not be identified because of their blackened faces.

A plough is still pulled along Maldon High Street today to honour the contribution of the district’s agricultural workers.

Every year on the Sunday night before the event, the plough is blessed at St Mary’s Church.

This year dancers met at the Little Ships Club at 7pm, before beginning their walk up the High Street at 7.30pm.

Organiser Gary Bennett said this year's Plough Monday was another big success.

He said: “It was very good. Once again we were lucky with the weather which meant we had a good turnout.

"The last couple of years we have nearly been rained off but it was perfect weather for us and we got a big crowd.

"Some of the people who came out to watch actually dressed up and joined in as well.

"It is nice to see people buying into it and rather than just come and watching, to have them dress up in the peasant and agricultural dress and take part."

The evening began with dances at the Little Ships Club from 7pm, where the dancers also painted their faces black.

They then did some dances on the quay before moving halfway up the High Street for some more performances where they gathered a larger crowd.

The event finished outside All Saints Church, at the top of the High Street, where the dancers performed one final dance before moving to the Blue Board to continue the festivities with drink, food, music and more dancing.