Although the double bass has existed in something similar to its modern form with overwound strings since the middle of the 17th century it never featured in English folk music until the 20th Century. References to bass fiddle or bass viol found for example in Thomas Hardy's works are almost certainly describing a 'cello.
The double bass found a place in the folk revival both in song accompaniment and in dance bands. It brought many influences from Scottish Dance music and from American music and was played almost exclusively pizzicato.
In the 1970s English ceilidh bands adopted bass guitars and other bass instruments such as tubas and bass saxophones but the double bass retained a place in some social dance bands.
More recently there has been a resurgence in the popularity of the double bass in song accompaniment now using a more lyrical approach often using the bow.