This account of The Lyons Dancers was compiled by Hazel West (née Walker). During the war years she was employed by Normand Ltd the wholly owned vehicle and engineering subsidiary of J. Lyons & Co. Ltd.
In the 1940s I was an office worker employed by Normand Ltd. a wholly owned motor vehicle business of J. Lyons & Co. Ltd. based at Park Royal, West London. The office in which I worked was near the front entrance of the Normand administration block and behind this a brick air raid shelter had been erected for use of the office staff. Every time an air raid warning sounded which seemed to be constantly - we were instructed to pick up our typewriters and run with them to the shelter so that we could carry on with our work That did not last long because we spent most of the day trundling back and forth even though the large Guinness beer factory was bombed at the head of the street in which we were situated. Like others at that time we decided to just keep on working and it became a general attitude during WWII because there was no point in running every time the siren sounded, no work was being done so we carried on.
Normand Ltd. converted from peace-time vehicle maintenance to war work in about 1942. The factory was converted to a variety of wartime uses including the manufacture of King Pins for the famous Bailey Bridges to making/assembling canvas coverings for the backs of military vehicles. Mostly female workers built the canvas coverings that would eventually provided protection and transportation of men and/or equipment. As the men of Normand had been conscripted into the forces I inherited a man's job. When completed, the vehicles were lined up on the road beside Normand Ltd for their last check before being released to the War Department.
When each vehicle left the factory a complete check was made to ensure that every item was numbered and installed correctly, right down to fire extinguishers and tyre numbers. There was one fleet of departing trucks that I was not allowed to enter. I could only surmise that they contained secret or specialised equipment. For the first time an office worker was allowed to wear trousers to work because I had to climb up into the vehicles to carry out my checks. I was the envy of other girls in the offices, especially in the winter. When not employed on checking vehicles for the War Department I carried out my duties as a pick-up/delivery clerk driving a very small Austin van that had no back windows, only side mirrors.
J. Lyons, our employer, was very cognisant of the needs of their workers. A nurse was always on duty at Normand Ltd to treat cuts, bruises and other minor ailments. Older men and young women were working ten, eleven and sometimes twelve hour shifts to earn maximum money; Time and a half beyond regular hours and double-time on Sundays. I thank J. Lyons for my good health today because we were able to have one good meal a day at the cafeteria across the street. It was a heavy meat, plum duff pudding kind of fare, but was far better than anything we were able to have anywhere else due to rationing.
The workers benefited from being able to join the Lyons Club for 3d a week that entitled us to use the elegant sports club at Sudbury where we swam and learned to dance under the tutelage of Mrs Simmons. It was through the Lyons Magazine/News that I was able to learn of the proposed dance group to train and perform for servicemen. It was destined to become the most influential experience of my life. In 1942 an advertisement appeared in the Lyons Mail journal (a monthly employee bulletin) containing an invitation for girl employees who were interested in becoming part of a dance group to train and entertain members of the military. My co-worker, Doreen and I were immediately interested and we turned up for interviews and try-outs at the Lyons' Sports Club at Sudbury. Little did we know or realize how much our lives would change from that evening on until the end of the war in 1945. We did not realize immediately that the lady who was to become our teacher was the wife of John Simmons, an Employee Director of Lyons. She was an experienced dancer willing to train a group of girls as her contribution to War Work, in keeping with a government edict that everyone should take on extra work toward the war effort (as it was called). Only a dozen of the girls who applied were willing to continue with the rigorous ballet training and who became The Lyons Dancers.
The training was rigorous as Mrs. Simmons began to turn a bunch of untrained scared girls into graceful, limber, attractive dancers. We began by learning the 5 foot positions in the 'turning out' process. She insisted on - straight legs, no turned over ankles, just a straight beautiful line from hip to toes. Hand positions followed - no bunches of bananas! She was strict in her instructions, but kind in encouragement. We began to learn special dances that we would eventually perform anywhere we were asked to go, on stages, floors, boards placed on top of sandbags and sometimes a real theatre. We danced for small and some very large groups at military bases. Occasionally we were on the same program as famous stars of the day including Arthur Askey, Cecily Courtneidge and others. Rehearsal costumes were provided for us, each in the colour of our choice.
Trunks of costumes arrived at Sudbury during one rehearsal that had been purchased from a dance company that had folded. There were costumes for every dance that we had learned including shoes, ballet slippers and red leather knee boots for the Russian Dance. We were taught the art of stage makeup. No effort in our training was spared by Mrs Simmons and the J. Lyons Company as they prepared us to do our part toward the War Effort
We worked all day at our jobs and rehearsed twice a week at Sudbury during the summer and at Cadby Hall (Elms House) in the winter. We paid our own way to and from rehearsals and performing venues. We were never allowed 'out front' to fraternize with the troops, but were kept back stage and sent home immediately after each performance. We didn't object because we loved the training and performing opportunities offered to us by the Lyons Company, whom I feel sure paid for the costumes, make-up etc. and Mrs Simmons who gave of her time and energy to provide something wonderful. From her we learned elegance. We copied her grace, mode of dress, and speech. We attended ballet performances at her suggestion by paying 6d for a seat up in the ‘gods’ to see the unforgettable Margot Fonteyn and Robert Helpmann of the Sadler's Wells Ballet Company. Initially many girls from the company joined the troupe but soon left - because of the intense training thus creating a change of cast for a few months. As eager dancers continued with enthusiasm the number filtered down to twelve dedicated dancers, always present for rehearsals and performances,
Hazel West January 2016
Hazel West was born and lived in Wembley for 21 years. Her career at Normand Ltd ended in 1945 when she met and married a Royal Canadian Flying Officer and then travelled to Canada on the Aquitania. While raising five children she studied and obtained a Bachelor of Education degree in English and Drama, thereby becoming a proficient teacher/director of the Performing Arts. The final musical she directed at the end of her career was West Side Story but she still sings with a Seniors’ Group at the age of 91.
Clearly her dance training during the Second World War created the enthusiasm for her to make the performing arts a huge part of her life. She has been able to train others in all of the performing arts where she lives in Canada. Her initial ‘War Effort’ has stretched far and wide and Canada is indebted to Mrs Simmons and the other dancers who started this affair in 1942.
Peter Bird January 2016.
All pictures supplied by courtesy of Hazel West neé Walker
| Mrs Simmons
||Hazel Walker as she was in 1944
Review following Hazel Walker’s cabaret debut at the Trocadero Restaurant
The following comments appeared in the wartime Revue Section of the Lyons Mail Journals.
Thursday 9 October 1941
The Troop Show Spirit. Hon. Secretary. Engineers, 141 Hammersmith Road. RIV 2040 Ext 256.
Our producer sends this message to those of the Company who have left us.
The Revue Section joined the War Effort late in 1939 believing that entertainment had an increase value in wartime. The Section has kept to that belief in spite of such obstacles as wartime economy, wartime blackout and wartime lethargy.
That belief was justified and that obstacles could be overcome was proved by the production of ‘So What?’ in March 1940 and by the success of its reproduction of ‘So What Again’ in April/May 1940.
This was the beginning; worst obstacles, and greater risks confronted the Section when the E.N.S.A invited its members to bring entertainment to troops beyond the reach of the usual E.N.S.A. artists. This invitation was accepted by our members and encouraged by the official support of our Company [J. Lyons & Co]. ‘So What?’ was stripped of its scenery, redressed, rewritten and produced as The Lyons Club Troop Show. In addition to the air raids, the new show faced fresh difficulties of transport, rationing and calling-up. Of the original company of 24 which took to the road in 1940, only ten now remain but the show still goes on.
Memories the sound of the sirens and the orderly tread of steelhelmeted gunners to their dockland stations; the polite but unanimous decision of the cast ‘Lyons will carry on Sir a Garrison Theatre with Military Police keeping order in the gangways the Hospital surrounded by incendiary fires; the underground passages filled with Dunkirk wounded the eerie, moonlit coach rides through bomb-racked London to home.
Those are some of their memories, and that is the Revue Section’s spirit and, as our members leave us to join the Services we know so well, we feel that they take their memories and their spirit with them.
To all in the Services, at home or abroad, the Revue Section sends its greetings may we meet across the footlights!
Thursday 6 November 1941
Ballroom Dancing Instruction
Dancing classes are held every Wednesday evening from 6.30 pm to 8.30 pm at the Pavilion Sudbury. These classes are quite free, and approximately a hundred people per week are taking advantage of them. Why not YOU? If you have perfected your dancing, we would very much like to see you coming along to assist our beginners.
Revue Section Temporary Hon. Secretary F. Collins (Producer)
With the approach of winter more difficulties face the Section. In addition to the obstacles which sickness and recurrent colds present, the Section has to face blackout, industrial regulation, military service, rationing and probably air raids under what promise to be extremely cold conditions.
To date we have lost our Musical Director, our Hon. Secretary, our Stage Manager, all our Instrumentalists, some of our male singers and many of our girls. The Section still survives and although The Lyons Troop Show has subtly altered, it is still as well received as ever; the chief difficulty is to fit in the number of bookings so as to allow the cast some free nights for themselves.
We still need talent especially instrumentalists, but if you can do anything well, which you think has entertainment value let us know.
Ballroom Dancing Instruction
Dancing instruction, still proving so popular at Sudbury, has now been extended to the Ocford Club Room. This is quite free, and if you want to start to learn dancing, or improve your dancing, instruction will be available at Sudbury every Wednesday (6.30ץ.30 pm) and at the Oxford Club Room every Tuesday (7ץ pm) and Saturday (6ץ pm).
Thursday 12 February 1942
Revue Section Pro Tem. Miss G. Cridlan, Cadby Hall.
We announce with our usual air of pained resignation yet more trouble for the Lyons Troop Show (E.N.S.A).
The Temporary Hon. Secretary, Temp. Treasurer, Temp. Stage Manager, etc. etc. and Eternal Producer, is called upon to take up duties outside the London Area, and since it is apparent that the work associated with a Temp. Hon. Sec. etc. ad nauseam must be handled by someone centrally placed, these temporary positions (of which he has been exceedingly jealous) must be relinquished.
With our usual flair for improvisations, and following the example set by the Company which is our sponsor, we have refused to cancel the Show which has made club history, and we have made cunning arrangements for its continued existence.
It is impossible to resist a feeling of pride at the knowledge that although eggs are almost unobtainable, jam, milk, dried fruits, fats, sugar, butter etc., have been cut down to almost minus quantities, and in the case of some may not be used at all, our amazing organisation is still producing edible articles for which the Armed Forces and General Public scramble with even more zest than was usual in peace-time.
As the major ingredients of our organisation disappear we are fired with enthusiasm by this amazing example of shrewd foresight and deft planning, and in our small way we seek to emulate our sponsors by keeping up our production to acceptable standards.
This rather flowery introduction enables us to announce in rather impressive manner, that Miss G. Cridlan has accepted the post of Temporary Honorary Secretary and that Mr. V. Jennings has accepted the responsibility of handling the financial arrangements of the Section.
The wholehearted thanks to our Section are offered to these tow volunteers who are taking on most complicated and onerous duties. Production will continue (by remote control) and we look forward with interest to much girlish chit chat from the new Temp. Hon. Sec.
Thursday 12 March 1942
Lyons Troop Show (E.N.S.A) (Miss) G. Gridlan
In the earlier part of this month the Lyons Troop Show travelled some 50 miles on a bitterly cold Saturday afternoon, to entertain some of the Troops of the ROAC. The following extract from a letter received from the Welfare Officer in charge will prove to you that it was well worth the cold journey:
‘In view of the very excellent show which you so kindly sent us last Saturday, I felt I must I must write and say how very grateful we are to you for your generous assistance. Owing to the peculiarities of this Unit, it is extremely difficult to keep my men occupied during their leisure hours. It is only with the help and co-operation of such companies as yourselves, that we can hope to relieve the much dreaded boredom. I would be most grateful if you could see your way clear to visit us again in the near future’.
It is this kind of appreciation that gives us the courage to keep the Lyons Troop Show alive, for since the last issue of The Lyons Mail we have suffered the loss of the services of our producer Mr Collins. To him we say Good Luck ‘Inky’ and thank you, from each and all of us for the way in which you produced this Troop Show, and encouraged us all to give of our best at all times. Weshall miss you sadly, but the Lyons Troop Show will still on the good work.
We also wish happy landings to our accordion player who left us recently to play an even more important part with the RAF.
These gaps must be filled won’t you help us? Get in touch with the Temporary Honorary Secretary and tell her what you can do or what you would like to learn. We will help you.
Dancing at Sudbury
On and from Easter Sunday, 5 April, the time for Sunday Dances will be from 7.00 pm till 10.00 pm. This time will operate until further notice. Ballroom Dancing instruction on Wednesday will continue for the time being from 6.30 pm to 9.00 pm. Sectional and Departmental Dances are announced separately.
Dancing at the Oxford
A Club Dance is held every Monday and Thursday at the Oxford from 6.30 pm to 10.00 pm., tickets 1/ each. The times of these Dances may be altered later so watch for announcements. During the Dance on Monday 23 March, a cabaret will be given by the Kodak Players. Ballroom instruction every Saturday, 6.30 pm to 9.00 pm. Free.
Dancing at Cadby
The next B.I.K Dance will be held in Elms House on Saturday 4 April (Easter Saturday). These Dances are held for the benefit of all Club Members in and around Cadby, and tickets will be distributed to all departments. It is hoped that in the near future it will be possible to obtain Ballroom Dancing instruction at Cadby. Watch and listen for further announcements.
Thursday 16 April 1942.
Lyons Troop Show (ENSA)
We had an excellent response to our appeal to you for new members, and some of them have already been ‘in action’. On Tuesday last we had the privilege of help to swell the total of London’s Warship Week by giving our Show for that purpose, and although some of our cast faced the footlights for the first time, no one could possibly have guessed it, so splendidly did they play their parts. The audience and the players enjoyed themselves enormously, judging by the laughter and applause.
We feel sure that all members of the Revue Section will be interested in the following extract from a letter we have received from Bill Cowler, one of the original cast of the ‘So What’ Revue. He writes expressing his gratitude for the Christmas parcel he had just received and continues: ‘…and not least the Forces number of The Lyons Mail which brought back to myself so many happy memories of grand times spent at Sudbury, also memories of the Revue Section and the hectic days of rehearsal for ‘So What’ and the many journeys out to various stations to entertain the lads in the Forces. May those grand times return for all of us. I would like to send to all Club Members at home my best wishes and greetings from Canada.
And to you Bill Cowler, all the Club Members send their greetings and good wishes. We in the Revue Section often talk of you and look forward to the day when you will be with us again.
Thursday 3 September 1942
The new Dancing Class organised and directed by Mrs Simmons has proved an enormous success. The girls thoroughly enjoy their lessons, and their progress reflects great credit on their instructress. We hope shortly to have an opportunity of presenting these new dancers to you, and feel confident that you will give them unstinted praise and approval.
We were recently asked to ‘lend’ one or two of our members to help with an entertainment for those grand old gentlemen, the Chelsea Pensioners, at the Royal Hospital. What wonderful men they are! How proudly they talked to us of their sons and grandsons now serving their Country as they themselves have done so nobly. Lyons Troop Show is indeed proud to have been associated with these red-coated heroes.
Thursday 1 October 1942
Revue Section. D. R. Whittington Hon Sec.
Hello Forces. The old Show is still going strong. Unfortunately we have just suffered another blow. Owing to pressure of work, Miss G. Gridlan has had to resign the Secretaryship and also from the show.
‘Gyp’ Gridlan has been with the Show from its commencement. She has known the Blitz days and many long and uncomfortable journeys. She has heard too, the roar of many appreciative Troop audiences at her work. We’re all sorry to lose a fine artiste and say au revoir and happy memories.
You’ll be pleased to know that an entirely new Show is being written and produced and will introduce a new style of dancing. The Show will be given at Sudbury before being taken elsewhere. More news on this later.
The wardrobe has been completely reorganised. Miss Ruth Evans (who has been working quietly and efficiently behind the scenes for a long time) has been appointed Wardrobe Mistress, with full control. We can promise our faithful Sudbury audience something very lovely in stage presentation.
Bill Davey Thanks a lot for responding to our appeal for a photograph. Your old ‘Hill Billy’ chum, Bill Cowler, writes to me regularly from Canada. Special greetings from each to each when you read this copy. A place in the Show is always open for you when you return.
Attention everybody. Your modest correspondent has again taken over the secretaryship and he is looking for talent for the new Show. Get in on the ground floor, write to me, Works Department, Abbey Road, or Willesden 6164. I will arrange the audition.
Thursday 5 November 1942
Revue Section. D. R. Whittington Hon. Sec.
In response to many requests the Revue Section is now in rehearsal for a complete new Show. We think our supporters will be interested to know that a wellknown professional producer is in charge of Production, consequently there will be a complete change of style. Coupled with this, an entirely new type of dancing is being taught under the direction of Mrs Simmons. More details later.
The Sailor's Hornpipe
Thursday 3 December 1942
Ballroom Dancing Instruction
A committee has been formed for the purpose of furthering facilities for ballroom dancing instruction. Among other things it is hoped to bring along professional dancing teachers to polish up the finer points in ballroom dancing.
This committee is under the direction of Mr Warhurst (generally known to pupils as Sandy) of Normand Ltd., Park Royal. He will be pleased to receive any suggestions on any Wednesday evening at Sudbury.
The committee has already got some big schemes in mind and one possibility is a Lyons Dancing Championship. Watch out for further announcements which will definitely be made on Wednesdays at Sudbury.
Thursday 7 January 1943
Revue Section. D.R. Whittington Hon. Sec.
The members of the Section who are still fortunate to retain an active stage interest, extend their wishes for a Happy New Year to all their colleagues, and also to their many friends on the others side of the footlights who have supported so faithfully the many shows which the Section have put on.
The girls are demonstrating their new style of dancing at various Dance Cabarets, and are as popular as ever. We are all very glad that this experiment has proved successful.
Club Members Entertained by US Forces
A Theatre Unit of the US Army visited Sudbury on 7 December to give a performance of the farce, Just Married. The Pavilion was packed with a very enthusiastic audience of nearly six hundred people. Corporal Thomas Palmer was responsible for the entire production of the Show which was a real credit to any stage. Every members of the cast played his or her part with the polish and finish of a star. The audience enjoyed every moment and are still asking, ‘when can we see them again’. We extend our grateful thanks to everyone who took part in the show, to those hard workers behind the scenes, and to the US authorities who made the visit possible. The Lyons Club thanks the USA.
Thursday 4 February 1943 (wrongly dated as 1942)
Dancing at Sudbury
The Committee responsible for Ballroom Dancing Instruction is doing much to increase the popularity of dancing as a means of recreation.
At a dance in the Pavilion on Saturday 30 January a ‘full house’ watched a grand demonstration given by the professional dancing champions of 1942, namely Vic Barrett and Marie Taylor. A foxtrot competition which followed was judged by these professionals and won by:
1st. Mr. Finlay, Engineers, Cadby Hall, and Partner.
2nd. Miss M. Muller, Orchard House, and Partner
3rd. Miss J. Kidds, Accounts, Cadby Hall, and Partner.
Another professional demonstration will be given at 22 Shaftsbury Avenue on Saturday 20 February.
Wednesday evening dancing is attracting bigger crowds since we have been fortunate enough to have a band to supply the music. This band is made up with boys from the RAOC and has become very popular among dancers.
Sunday evening dancing has now been altered and until further notice will be from 7.00 pm till 10.00 pm.
Club members are reminded that admission to both Sunday and Wednesday dances is free on production of membership card. Members may also introduce a guest by obtaining a Visitor’s Pass at the entrance to the dancehall.
Dancing enthusiast will be interested to know that Miss J. Kidds of the Accounts Department has been successful in passing the examination of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing, thus gaining the Gold Medal Award.
The Dancing Instruction Committee are prepared to give instruction or advice to anyone seeking it, between 6.30 pm and 7.00 pm on Wednesday at Sudbury.
Thursday 1 April 1943
Revue Section. D,R Whittington Hon. Sec
The Section is going ahead and we are looking for new and original talent to complete the new show. Tow auditions are being held as follows:
Monday 15 April Cadby Hall 6.00 pm. Only club members are eligible of course. If you can sing, play an instrument, or entertain in any form, this is your chance to get into a first class show.
The Revue Section has a very fine ‘trooper’ spirit and newcomers must be prepared to give up their spare time for rehearsals. All taking part are amateurs and no payments are made (except expenses when the Show goes ‘on the road’. If you are interested and wish to attend one of the auditions, please get in touch with the Hon. Sec. beforehand. Singers are invited to bring their own music. Instrumentalists are especially invited. Remember, this is your chance to get into a new Revue and a top Troop show.
Thursday 6 May 1943
A grand evening was spent at 22 Shaftsbury Avenue on the occasion of a Special Dance organised by the West-End Entertainments Committee, on Monday 19 April. Some distinguished guests including the Mayor and Mayoress of Hackney were among the happy crowd, which also included representatives from most of the branches of the Company.
Spontaneous novelty dances created a great deal of fun, and mention must be made here of our great appreciation to the distinguished guests who so readily assisted in distributing some beautiful prizes.
The West-End Committee is to be congratulated on its organising of what everybody described as a grand affair. Me E. Mount of the Corner House, Coventry Street (Chairman of the West-End Committee) would welcome suggestions for future functions from any member of the Lyons Club.
Thursday 3 June 1943
Thursday 4 November 1943
Ballroom dancing instruction is now given every Wednesday, at Elms House from 6.00 pm to 7.00 pm. The instructors will be Mr Michaels and Mr Neal of the Bakery Department. The usual Wednesday evening dancing will follow immediately after the instruction. From 7.00 pm to 10.00 pm.
Thursday 2 December 1943
Ballroom Dancing Instruction
These classes are held in the Cadby Club Room, Elms House, every Wednesday from 6.00 pm until 7.00 pm, followed by dancing to recorded music. Attendance is good and Club Members are attending from all establishments of the Company. Quickstep instruction is being given until 22 December. Tango instruction will commence on Wednesday 5 January 1944. If you wish to learn or improve your dancing why not come along?
Thursday 3 March 1944
Ballroom Dancing Instruction In Cadby Club Rooms
On Wednesday 16 February, in the Cadby Club Rooms, we had the pleasure of receiving three staff members of the Central Council of Physical Recreation to watch our dancing class.
Mrs Blackenberg (Technical Advisor) was at the piano during the lesson, which was greatly appreciated. After a general resume pf the steps that had been taught in past lessons, Miss Dunnett, who has had many years of teaching experience, gave the students some ‘tips’ and introduced a new step. After the lesson, cordial exchanges were made between our guests and the students. Our guests indicated that they would come again in the new future and expressed their admiration on the enthusiasm of the teachers and students.
The Lyons Club Birmingham
C.W. Field Hon. Sec.
To celebrate the recent formation of the above a dance was held at the Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, on 22 February 1944 last, and although the weather conditions were the worst this winter a full house turned up and a very delightful evening resulted.
All Departments were well represented, Bakery, Rounds, Tea Agents and Teashops, and all thoroughly entered into the spirit of the occasion and at the end, like Oliver Twist, asked for more. A grand evening!
Thursday 13 April 1944
Corner House on Film
The First Floor of the Coventry Street Corner House, is shewn in ‘Salute the Soldier’ the film made for the National Savings committee and booked to appear in cinemas throughout the country in conjunction with local Saving Weeks.
Three of our Nippys from Coventry Street Corner House, Strand Corner House and Oxford Corner House respectively took part in the film. The principal parts were taken by Wilfred Lawson as the Civilian and Jimmy Hanley as the Soldier.
Hello Forces and members of the Revue Section wherever you are. The flag of the Revue Section is kept flying high by the ‘girls’ now know as The Lyons Dancers.
These talented artists are very much in demand these days and have given numerous shows to all sorts of audiences including Military, Fire Service, ARP, and some of our American buddies in the US Army. In recent shows they have been on the same programmes as some big theatrical stars such as Carrol Gibbons, Cicely Courtneidge and Arthur Askey, and have been complimented on their fine performances. Great credit is due to these girls who, under the able guidance of their teacher work hard at their regular rehearsals. There is no doubt that quite a few lady members of the Club would like to join the Lyons Dancers. You may, but you have to be keen to become really good dancers. You’ll be taught and the cost is nothing. If you are interested communicate with the Hon. Sec. Mr D. R. Whittington.
Thursday 11 May 1944
The Lyons Dancers have again had a very successful month entertaining members of HM Forces, Civil Defence, and National Fire Service Units, giving at least two shows each week. The ‘Girls’ are very popular wherever they go and the following letters of appreciation have been received:
May I congratulate you on a grand performance. Maby favourable comments have been passed by those who saw the Show. The Dance Ensemble were particularly unique, well dressed and of definite appeal.
I do sincerely thank you again for your help in creating at first rate variety bill last night.
My wholehearted thanks to you for yet another visit. Regarding the girls’ performance under your direction, there is nothing I can add to my previous letters, commenting how beautifully clean and crisp is the execution of their dancing. Hoping to see you again in the near future.
I take this opportunity of thanking Mrs Simmons and the girls for the marvellous Show they gave us on Sunday.
On behalf of the Commanding Officer I should like to take this opportunity of thanking you for your contribution to the splendid Show given at the Rudolf Steiner Hall on Thursday. Might I express my own personal thanks to you and your talented Company for the time you so willingly gave to assist in making such a successful evening.
During the coming summer months when indoor entertainment is not quite so much in demand for the Services as in the winter evenings, rehearsals will, as far as possible, be spent in training new girls and preparing new programmes for next season, so if any of you are interested, communicate now with the Hon. Sec. D. R. Whittington.
Thursday 1 June 1944
Revue Section. Hon. Sec. D.R. Whittington
Classes for training new Lyons Dancers are now being held on Tuesdays at Sudbury and on Thursdays at Elms House from 7.00 pm to 9.00 pm. The old members of the troupe wish to extend a word of welcome and thanks to the new girls for coming along to work with them and help entertain the troops next season. /it is going to be a hard summer’s training but well worth it.
At a recent Show the ‘Girls’ were invited to take a guest, and parents and friends who had not seen the dancing for several months, were amazed at the stage presence and quality which the girls have attained. This has only come through keenness and hard work by all concerned, but it is obvious that the training received at rehearsals is of the very best.
As these classes are still in the very early stages, it is the ideal time for anyone else who is interested to join in. Apart from teaching you to dance, the exercises given at the beginning of every class will keep you fit and give you poise and grace which will be an asset at all times.
Thursday 10 August 1944
Old Time Dancing. Social Organiser
Requests have been received from Members of the Club for Old Time Dances.
Some have asked for an evening at which most of the dancers are old-timers. Others have asked fir instruction in old time dances such as, The Lancers, Maxina Etc.
The policy of the Club these days is to try and cater for all its members and if such instruction can be arranged of these dances is sufficient, they will certainly be arranged.
Let us consider instruction first: is there a Club Member who would be good enough to take a class, if one were arranged? If so, will you please communicate with me. I should also be pleased to hear from Members who would like to learn these graceful dances. Those who take advantage of these classes will realise that there can be a great deal of pleasure derived from them.
If it is found there is a sufficient number interested, arrangements will be made for an evening when the majority of dances will be popular old-timers.
In making these arrangements, I would like Club Members to know that any suggestions about this subject would be very much appreciated by the Social Organiser.
Revue Section. Hon. Sec. Mr D. R. Whittington. Engineers Office, Cadby Hall
As was previously announced, the Section generally has been ‘taking to the air’ during the summer months, but this doesn’t mean complete inactivity. New dances and arrangements have to be devised by our teacher, and the girls are looking forward to the tussle they always have when first taking on new steps.
A special piece of news of interest to past and present members, is the marriage of Winnie Harvey on Saturday, 29 July to Charlie Humm, Petty Officer in the Royal Navy. Winnie, a fine ‘old trouper’ has been with the Section for a number of years and since the outbreak of war, has been in scores of shows which the Section has given to various branches of the services. Whether the show was during the blitz or out in some lonely camp in winter, there was always a laugh from Win.
Old and present members take this opportunity to wish Winnie and her husband the best of luck and many happy years of wedded bliss.
Old Time Dancing. S. A. Manton, Social Organiser.
Since the announcement in the last issue of The Lyons Mail re old time dancing, many letters have been received from members recording their enthusiasm. It is felt also, that there are many who are interested, but for some reason, haven’t written and are waiting to hear that we are starting. Perhaps Departmental representatives would help by letting me know how much interest there may be in their particular department.
For the Club’s part, if this is going to be a popular pastime, I am anxious that we start right and am therefore seeking the best possible advice. For instance, Mr Harry Davidson, so popular with millions of listeners to the BBC broadcasts, has already given me some very sound advice and has offered to help further wherever possible.
You let me know you are interested and I will see that you are advised to to when we are actually starting activities.
Thursday 7 December 1944
Old Time Dancing
On Friday 17 November, some 200 happy people, young and old, filled the floor of the WestEnd Ballroom whirling to Old-Timers such as the Polka, Waltz Cotillion, Lancers and many other gay exhilarating dances.
A dash of colour came from kilted members of the Strathspey School of Dancing, under the direction of Jack McConachie, demonstrating a set of Lancers, an Eightsome Reel with traditional pipe accompaniment and leading the floor in every dance. Very many thanks are due to these dancers who gave their time to come along and help our evening to be a success.
Mr Fothergill, our MC, was magnificent, directing the crowded floor with perfect control. To him we must say a special thank you. Also to Mr Jones’ Trio who worked continuously, providing us with first class music. During the evening, Miss Hale (Dressmaking Department) sang two very delightful ballads which were greatly appreciated by us all.
Such was the success of this, our first Old Time Dance, that a second evening is being held on Friday 8 December, tickets for which were all sold within a few days.
Thursday 1 March 1945
Ballroom Dancing Instruction. Cadby Club Rooms
These classes are still popular and the numbers are increasing again. Members from Greenford and the Teashops are especially welcome.
The more experienced pupils now assist the newcomers, who are greatly interested and find much pleasure in learning the basic steps. Both Mr Michaels and Mr Neal introduce a new figure each week in the four popular dances. New members are always welcome, and if you wish to learn or improve, Wednesday is the day from 6.00 pm to 7.00 pm and dancing continues until 10.00 pm.
It is hoped that Miss Dummett, M.I.S.T.D, M.I.D.M.A will come along one Wednesday in March to help with the class.
Mr Michaels, who is a National Leader of Physical Recreation, had added Ballroom Dancing to his certificate.
Old Time Dancing
So far Old Time Dancing seems to be in that category of demand exceeds supply. Tickets for every dance have been sold out long before the date. The tickets for the Dance to be held in the Cadby Club Rooms on Friday 3 March were all sold out within 24 hours.
Members are reminded that there are less tickets available for these dances than for ordinary dances, simply because everybody dances. The wallflower just doesn’t grow! The answer to the disappointed can only be more Old Time Dances. Arrangements have been made to hold one in each branch of the Club as follows:-
Saturday 10 March Cadby Club Rooms 3rd Floor Elms House.
Friday 16 March West End Club Rooms, 22 Shaftsbury Avenue W1.
Easter Monday 2 April The Pavilion, Sudbury
Each dance will be from 6.30 pm to 10.30 pm and tickets (1/6 each) are attainable from Mr S. A. Manton, Lyons Club. In addition practice evenings will be held in the Cadby Club Rooms on 12 and 26 March.
Thursday 6 September 1945
Old Time Dancing
Owing to the increased interest in Old Time Dancing throughout the Club, and the requests for practice evenings to be held, the following arrangements have been made:
Commencing on Monday 1 October practice evenings will be held every Monday, alternatively at Elms House and Sudbury as follows:
||7.30 pm to 8.30 pm
|| 5.30 pm to 7.00 pm
||7.00 pm to 8.30 pm
|| Elms House
||5.30 pm to 7.00 pm
And will continue until further notice. Please note the varying times at each place. Admission is free to members and their personal guests and it is hoped that members will make a habit of attending these evenings.
Old Time Dancing
It was just over a year ago that Old Time Dancing was introduced to the Club. Since then it has become one of the most popular of our social activities, and for this overwhelming success, we must thank, mainly, Mr Fothergill our very efficient instructor and MC. He has, for the past year, put a tremendous amount of work into the practices and dances, and great credit is due to him for the standard of Old Time Dancing existing in the Club today.
In addition to the dances we have introduced Old Time Dance Parties and on each occasion, the demand for tickets has exceeded supply. Our intention is to forge ahead and we shall welcome any suggestions for improving the present arrangements. Write to your Social Organiser, C/o The Lyons Club, Cadby Hall.