Rhoda Dawson was one of the most beautiful and graceful ladies ever to live in Bollington. She was a dancing teacher who lived at Brook House on Wellington Road (next door to the Waterhouse Medical Centre) with her husband Jack Broomhead who was a gas works manager. They had three of the ground floor rooms in Brook House converted creating a one magnificent hall with a polished wooden sprung floor. Rhoda held classes there, particularly on Saturdays. We don’t know when she started or stopped the classes but it is thought she first moved to Brook House in 1939 when she was twenty five years old. The classes were strictly run – absolutely no hanky panky! They were mainly rhumba, tango, waltz, foxtrot, quick step and Latin American and were immensely popular. There was a bar adjacent to the dance floor where Rhoda sold soft drinks and chocolates (rationing permitting!).
Very many Bollington youngsters went to her classes not just for raising their dancing skills, but to find and develop a personal relationship, and many of those went on the marry. Many still live in the town (2018), enjoying their latter years with good memories of how they started out at Rhoda’s dancing classes! Linda Stewart`s own parents met at Rhoda`s dance classes and later married.
Many years later Rhoda looked back on her amazing career, `It was a life full of beauty and glamour. I had piano lessons and lots of ballgowns. I got to know a lot of young people over the years, thirty or forty years. Thousands of people. All those are now grandparents. I had a lot of eighteen years old girls who came dancing. They went into the services and would come back on leave and danced in their uniforms. They were momentous times`. In the 1950s Rock `n Roll was having an impact in dance halls across the country and Rhodo`s was no exception.` I taught Rock and Roll- I had to move with the times. Only on a Saturday night though the rest of the week was still the same. We had all the teddy boys here in their long coats, tight trousers and blue suede shoes`. In her later years she continued to live in Bollington although not at Brook House. She was often seen around the village and even in her eighties she always retained her dance posture and was still an elegant and beautiful lady. Regrettably Rhoda developed dementia in her final years and was unable to recall any of the wonderful times she had provided for so many Bollington folk. She died in 2004 aged ninety years and is buried in her married name Rhoda Broomhead in Pott Shrigley churchyard.
Below is a programme from an Old Time Dance, staged by Rhoda at the Conservative Club (which used to be on Adlington Road) in 1950. The programme mentions Rhoda’s dance partner, Eric Whitehurst. Eric was a local man who owned a fruit and vegetable shop on the corner of Oldham Street and High Street. A very smart man apparently. Interesting to note the printer, S.Braddock, who was based on High Street. The programme also mentions the regular Wednesday evening Old Time dance class, held at Brook House on Wellington Road. Click on the programme to enlarge it.
We thank the late Graham Hibbert for the pictures, a collection of which he donated to the Discovery Centre . The information comes from Graham and a number of contributors to the Old Bollington page on Facebook and we thank them all. We also thank Edwina Wood, who made the dance programme available to us. And finally thanks to Ann Mayer for some extra information on Rhoda.