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My brother taught me to dance in Dudley

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: May 05, 2014

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THANK you for Kathleen Turner's letter in The Bugle (April 10 edition), which stirred my pot of memories and brought several of them bubbling up to the surface.

My brother John used to go to Dudley Conservative Club for dance lessons and when he came home the rugs were moved and on would go the record player so he could practise with me. That was how I learned to dance. I was eleven at the time and he was five and a half years older than me so it was years and years later that I went regularly to the Queen Mary Ballroom in Dudley Zoo grounds.

The M.C. (Master of Ceremonies) was Mr Joe Sadler who was always dressed perfectly; black trousers, white shirt, red bow tie and cream jacket with a red carnation in the button hole. The four or five-piece band was that of Art Baker, whose signature tune was suitably "Heartbreaker". For his day council job Art collected rents from market traders.

I was almost always at the Queen Mary on Saturday nights with Elva Beckley from Tipton, Barbara Horton from Bilston and Doreen Callear, a district nurse who used to come all the way from Codsall on her moped, whatever the weather.

As I worked in Dudley it was easy for me to get the tickets for the four of us for the following Saturday, either from Stanton's music shop or the first house on the right through the zoo gates (opposite the Fellows Club) and at the same time book the table. We always had table number 19a which was strategically placed at the side of the dance floor. The dance started at 8pm and finished at 11.45pm as the law didn't allow such frivolities to run over into Sunday.

We regulars affectionately called it the Q.M. It was named the Queen Mary as it was built as a replica of the ballroom on the cruise liner.

When Kathleen wrote that the Conservative Club was near the station in New Street this was, of course, a reference to the Police Station. This made me remember the time as a child when I was stopped in Roseville and asked the way to the station. I directed the poor fellow to Avenue Road to Coseley Police Station instead of sending him down Tunnel Street and on to the railway station which I'm sure is where he wanted, but I digress.

The mention of F.W. Cooke in Upper High Street was a shop where I bought the pink and gold brocade material for my wedding dress and blue and silver material of matching design for my bridesmaid's dress 44 years ago. The gentleman shop assistant thought it was so unusual I promised to take the wedding photographs to show him, which I did.

Four cinemas, a Hippodrome and dozens of super shops. Dudley was lovely then.

C. Beryl Hyde-Wilkes,

Fairmead, 41 The Paddock, Coseley.

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