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Total Loss as Bridgnorth danced the night away

By Toby Neal | Nostalgia | Published:

Were you there on that night when Bridgnorth's new ballroom opened, dancing away to Joe Loss' band?

If you were, you may wonder where the time has gone, because it was almost 60 years ago.

The Rose Marie Ballroom on Hollybush Road held its official opening night on Thursday, September 24, 1959.

The Bridgnorth Journal of the following day reported that it "gave many of the 600 people present a new experience in ballroom dancing.

"They were literally dancing on cushions – rubber cushions underneath the flexible maple-strip floor, which covers an area of 3,600 square feet – in pleasant, comfortable surrounds. And to the famous Joe ('In The Mood') Loss dance band.

"This magnificent new ballroom, designed in and out on contemporary lines, is compared more than favourably with the best in the Midlands. It is a great attraction.

"Tickets for last night's opening ceremony were sold within a few days and bookings are rapidly rolling in. One local social club has reserved a booking for a dance at which another famous band (Johnny Dankworth) will appear.

"First-class facilities... famous bands... the enthusiastic local dance fans are happy. In addition dances will be held there every Saturday night.

"The opening ceremony was performed by Bridgnorth's Mayor, Alderman J.W.C. Bowers, who, partnered by the Mayoress, had the first dance."

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According to Bridgnorth historian Clive Gwilt's book "Bridgnorth Through Time," the Rose Marie Ballroom was popular with both locals and RAF personnel from nearby RAF Bridgnorth.

"Wrestling matches were also held here and many locals used to put the odd wager on the outcome," Clive writes.

"It was taken over by Bridgnorth Timber until 1994, when Erith plc reopened it as a builders' merchants. Today it has been enlarged slightly and opened as Jewson Ltd."

Our photo from back in 1959 is taken direct from the contemporary Bridgnorth Journal, so is not the best quality.

The building has a sign which says "Rose Marie Motels Ltd." Does that mean that the building had been converted from a motel? Or was the explanation simply that the ballroom was owned by a motels group?

If you were one of the dancers on that opening night, or indeed have any general memories of this Bridgnorth ballroom, do drop us a line and share your reminiscences.

Toby Neal

By Toby Neal
Feature Writer

A journalist in Shropshire for 40 years, mainly writes features and columns, especially about aspects of Shropshire history. Lives in Telford and is based at the Ketley headquarters.

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