Personal memories

Memories of Tollerton village hall during the late 1940’s

The village hall was located along Station Lane and was an ex First World War army hut which in the 1940’s saw it used for holding dances every Saturday evening.  The hall itself consisted of two sections where the smallest section was where tea and refreshments where provided, the second was where the dances were held. Although the dance floor was a little undulated it was highly polished thus served its purpose.

Incidentally the caretaker of the hall was Mr Alec Dawes who lived in Tollerton, who if my memory serves me correctly also made the tea at the interval helped by a few ladies of the village, who baked the cakes and made sandwiches, all sold at reasonable prices.

Numerous wooden chairs along the sides of the dance hall provided seating and a small-elevated stage for the dance band was tucked into the far end corner of the room. During the war music was provided by a small band of musicians that were airmen serving at the R.A.F Station at Shipton by Beningbrough although the drummer was a local lad by the name of Dickie Wade. No sheet music was used, as the musicians knew the tunes off by heart.

Dancers attending the Saturday dances came from the villages of Tollerton, Newton, Alne, Flawith and even the odd one from Youlton and Linton Woods. Being war time the only means of getting to the dances was by foot or pedal cycle and thus one can imagine the problem it was trying to identify ones cycle in the pitch dark at midnight. Strangely, airmen based at Linton-on-Ouse never found their way to the dances.

On a personal note, my girlfriend at that time came to the dances with me so I very much looked forward to Saturday evenings. (She still lives in Tollerton at this present time). Many a romance started at those dances that lead to marriages. Like most village dances we had to put up with the boisterous individuals that arrived after the village pubs closed.

It was a sad day when the R.A.F Station at Shipton closed after the war as this brought dancing to a full stop for a while but thankfully a certain Harold Smith, an electrical engineer who had a shop in the Market Place, Easingwold filled the vacuum. He possessed an amplifier, loud speakers and an ample supply of 78 r.p.m gramophone records, chiefly those of Victor Sylvester’s band. Fortunately he had a small van that enabled him to transport his equipment as private cars at that time were far and few between as petrol was still rationed. By this time the position of the enlarged stage had been moved to the south end of the room.

Since those far off days Tollerton has acquired a new brick constructed village hall with its full amenities for catering and toilet facilities but it still occupies the same site as the old wooden hut. What with television and other attractions that keep people at home in an evening I do not think that dances are now held in the new hall as they would not be profitable.

Guy Jefferson. MBE. Rawcliffe, York.

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