The Dance Hall - Winifred Hone memoirs

1920. After four years of war, the most monstrous of man's illusions, it was only natural for those who had survived to look upon life with a light hearted and carefree abandon. Dancing was to take chief priority, old and young were learning the light fantastic steps of the Tango, Foxtrot, Turkey trot, Shuffle and Charleston, which replaced the old time pre-war dances. The war weary had become dance crazy, Jazz Bands being introduced from America were not so easily accepted, but it didn't take long for them to become the trend. We hadn't the accommodation for this popular pastime but the Colchester Brewing Co. who owned the premises realised the addition of a ballroom was almost an essential, and when it became a reality we were the high light of the district. The building was 50ft by 25ft with the addition of an ante-room at either end and a gabled roof jutting out into the garden. Although only built of wood with a pantile roof, it was most attractive inside, panelled cream walls in between oak slats, giving it a tudor appearance. Two foot from the picture rail, which had the addition of a shelf running round, it was coloured tangerine, as was the ceiling between the exposed beams in the gabled roof. In addition there was a huge brick fireplace which would take 6ft logs, old Hogarth prints in black and gold frames ornamented the walls, also several items of armour. On the shelf Copper, Brass, Pewter tankards and plates.

The Victory around 1930 with the Dance Hall on the right

I mention all this as it made a very suitable background for the many functions to be held in the next ten years, with a platform at the south end of the room. Before we were granted a dancing singing and music license, we came up against a hitch. It was then necessary to have fitted exit doors and panic bolts. As this necessitated alterations to the present building it was decided to fill in the space between the two ante-rooms giving us an enclosed verandah size 35ft by 10ft, which made a charming candle lit dining room in the winter and also provided the necessary exit doors, overlooking a small garden with an ornamental pool. Mr Arthur Hempstead, who was breaking up a small coaster, told me I could have the upper structure made of oak and consisting of a combined wheelhouse and chartroom. It was almost as wide as the road and as we only had manpower to move it to the left side of the Victory garden, we were lucky not to be prosecuted for causing an obstruction on the main road. When in position it made an attractive summer house.

The local residents were very interested in our efforts to put Mersea on the map.

Footnote
The plans for the hall are in Essex Record Office, reference D/RLw Pb1/1008. Dated 1923, they list C.M. White as the builder.
The hall was burnt down in August 1942.

Author: Winifred Hone
c1969

Related Images

 Victory Hotel on Coast Road, with its dance hall. The dance hall was burnt down about 9 August 1941. Postcard, mailed 25 May 1932.  IA004851IA004851
Victory Hotel on Coast Road, with its dance hall. The dance hall was burnt down about 9 August 1941. Postcard, mailed 25 May 1932.
Before May 1932
 West Mersea Official Guide. Page 5. Victory Hotel, proprietor H.A. Bleach. Dance Hall on the right - burnt down about 1942.  MD05_009MD05_009
West Mersea Official Guide. Page 5. Victory Hotel, proprietor H.A. Bleach. Dance Hall on the right - burnt down about 1942.
c1935
ID: WW01_076
Source: Mersea Museum / Wendy Woolley