Memories of Outwood Memorial Hall

I have recently moved back into the Outwood area. I used to go to Outwood Memorial Hall as a teenager and have met several people who used to enjoy the dance classes there.  My twin sister and I were born April 28 1940 at Leeds Maternity Hospital.  We were a breech delivery but Mum did not have a caesarean birth as the war was on and money was tight.  Mum Mary and Dad Harry Charlesworth lived at that time in Hunslet, Leeds.

Later we lived in Armley in a more modern house with a back garden and an air raid shelter for when the bombs were dropped in the night.  We also had to have blackout curtains.  Up to the age of five Dad was in the war so we were brought up mainly by Mum and lots of aunts and uncles and grandmas. 

We were always dressed alike of course and most of our clothes were made by our aunts who were in ‘tailoring’ and we had long plaits up to the age of 15.  We went to the local school there but later to the Holy Family School in Armley because my mother was a Catholic. 
We had our first Communion at Holy Family Church at the age of seven.  Later we went to Notre Dame Collegiate School on Otley Road, Leeds, and travelled by tram.

Our first dancing classes were with Jean PearceBilly Pearce’s mother. She taught us tap and ballet and we performed with the other seven year olds at the Civic Theatre in Leeds, our one claim to fame.

After the war my father, who was a painter and decorator, bought a pickup van and set up a partnership with another decorator. They also had a shop in Tong Road, Armley, selling wallpaper and paint which Mum looked after and we would go there sometimes after school. 
Later Dad bought a car, a Lanchester, when we could not all fit into the van!   We shared the car with our neighbours.  They had it one week and we the next for weekend trips to the dales etc. 

Dad always loved his gardening and when we were young he had an allotment, at the house on Kirkdale Drive in Lower Wortley.  He had hens and rabbits and also grew mushrooms in the cellar. He loved growing his own vegetables. 
When we were 13 Dad decided to give up the business and buy a grocery shop at Newton Hill called Newton Stores.  It was on the main road, 286 Leeds Road just before First Avenue.  It used to be a bakery so it had a garden and outhouses at the back.  Mum made her own potted meat and would boil a ham which was very popular with the customers.

 Some customers encouraged Mum and Dad to go to the Memorial Hall in Outwood for the dance class there on Tuesday evenings and we went too and thoroughly enjoyed it. 
Old Time Sequence Dancing was quite intricate!  The MCs were 
Charlie Illingworth, who had a Fellmongers business in Ossett, and Dorothy Chester was his partner.  

Below is a photo of us receiving our IDMA medals.  We also used to go to the Community Centre in Station Road, Ossett. Occasionally we went to the Tower Ballroom, Blackpool. By the time we were 15 both my sister and I had achieved our bronze, silver and gold medals for Old Time Sequence Dancing of which we were very proud.

Since coming back to live in Outwood a few months ago I have come across several people who used to go to the dance. On the photograph are: Molly EndersbyMelvin AshtonMarjory EllisChristine WardJennifer DickinsonMargaret BatemanJenny GodfreyBrian AspeyJoan Saxon and George Ruffin who was French. 

On Saturday nights there was also a live group and when we were older we were allowed to go to that: fond memories of more innocent times! 

 When we were 17 we left school and I began my orthopaedics training at Pinderfields Hospital and at that time we all had to live in for six months.  Most of us lived at Stanley Hall across the road from Pinderfields Hospital and we always had to be in by 10.00pm or the home sister Miss Crossland wanted to know why. 

However there were ways and means. After that when working on shifts I used to ride on my bike each day, to work on the ‘huts’ as the Princess Mary Wing was then called.  I am still in touch with one patient who I nursed when I was 17.  She is now in her 90s and she is still actively doing charity work.

Maureen Charlesworth

I would like to thank Elsie Walton who gave us permission to reprint this article that was first published in the Wakefield Kinsman May 2019

Photo of us receiving our IDMA medals.

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