Waltzing from Owton Manor to Germany

(left to right) Fred Greaves, Eva Mulrooney, Jean Hugill and Dot Greaves
(left to right) Fred Greaves, Eva Mulrooney, Jean Hugill and Dot Greaves

WE recently appealed for people to share their golden memories of a community venue. The Owton Manor Community Centre and library celebrate 50 years of serving the area this year. We asked locals for their experiences but underestimated what a big part the centre played. Chris Cordner reports.

IN the days when dancing meant a majestic waltz or a jive, Fred and Dot Greaves were enjoying every minute of it.

Hucklehoven 1978 Dave and  Margaret Royal, Fred and Dot Greaves, Cliff and Dot Locock, Colin and Ree McArthur, Jack and Ella Dowson.

Hucklehoven 1978 Dave and Margaret Royal, Fred and Dot Greaves, Cliff and Dot Locock, Colin and Ree McArthur, Jack and Ella Dowson.

In 1963, the Hartlepool couple had been married for a little over 12 years.

Fred was a gardener and Dot, a housewife, both from the Rift House area.

But it was in Owton Manor where the fun was.

Where a chance to dance kept them, and hundreds of other couples, happy as they danced the night away.

They’re still dancing 50 years later. Both are 83 and their memories of times gone by at the Owton Manor Community Centre are as strong as ever.

In fact, they featured in a recent photograph of a dance troupe at the centre which we published a couple of weeks ago.

We asked who the people were. Fred had the answers.

They were all part of a dancing team practising their moves before visiting the German town of Huckelhoven to mark its twinning with Hartlepool.

“On the right, there was Margaret and Dave Royal,” said Fred.

“Then, there’s me and Dot, Cliff and Dot Lowcock, Colin and Renee McArthur and Jack and Ella Dawson on the left.”

The sequence dance team had a great time as they practised for their European trip. Every type of dancing was in its heyday and dancing was huge at the centre, Dot recalled.

“We had 265 members and there was a two-year waiting list. Sometimes, even when you got in, you had to wait to get on the dance floor.”

Fred added: “Margaret and Dave were the teachers and they were asked if they could get up a group of people to go to Germany.

“They got us together to do a routine in sequence dancing and show the people of Germany what we did in our spare time.”

Dancing became so popular that dance clubs were started both on Monday and Tuesday nights.

Fred remembered: “Jean Gatsby was the chairman of the dancing for a long time. Then she asked me if I would go as chairman.”

They had laughs galore including the make-your-own-tie nights and fancy dress evenings which went down a storm.

Now, the centre is set for a celebration thanks to staff at the Central Library in Hartlepool. They are putting together a programme of events which includes plans for a tea dance on October 23.

Central Library reference and information manager Diane Marlbrough said: “If anyone has photographs or memorabilia related to the community centre or library over the past 50 years then we would love to see them and hopefully include them in an exhibition.”

Anyone who can help the anniversary to go with a swing should contact the reference library on (01429) 242909 or call in to the Owton Manor library.