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I attended Romford from 1972-74 when it closed (Ed. See Charters Part Two page 10). I also taught at Charters from 1983-88. I have many, very fond memories of Bush at Romford and still to this day, hold them very close to my heart. Sometimes it only seems yesterday that I left there.
Things that stick out in my mind are:
Miss Joyce throwing her car keys at me in an Intermediate ballet class and having to pick them up and return them to her, with a curtsey!
Miss Daphne putting red lipstick on my cheeks just before an exam because she thought I looked pale.
Walking up the road, across the railway bridge to either the United Reformed church hall or to the British Legion hall, where some of the classes were held, wearing our leg-warmers and national skirts and being told off for going round Romford market in the same attire.
Being allowed to wear coloured leotards and jazz bells for modern when you reached Advanced.
Miss Rycroft's many pairs of coloured sandals and Miss Campbell's dog Happy.
Always knowing if someone had trained at Romford or East Grinstead by whether they said Miss Joyce and Miss Daphne or Miss Percy and Miss Peterson.
Classes taken by Miss Faulkner, Miss Chandy, Miss Jill with Derek Hardes, Stan Ward, Mrs Bryant or Mrs Nixon at the piano.
I owe everything I know to those wonderful teachers and still hear them in my mind while I'm teaching. What an honour to have been taught by Miss Daphne!
After leaving BD I started my teaching career with Faulkner Hembery school where many of the juniors from BD continued their training; also at the London College of Dance and Drama and then East Grinstead for 5 years. I went on to take my Fellowship exams and started examining in 1981. I was part of the ISTD development team which created Body Focus in 1986 and the Pre-Elementary Modern syllabus in 1988. And now I have my own school in Norwich .
I just hope I can give as much to the students and teachers, who I teach now, as Bush Davies gave to me all those years ago.
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My name is Wendy Lukins and I became a Senior Student at Bush Davies, Romford in 1963.
My first visit to "Bush" (with my local dance teacher) was to learn the Bronze Medal Tap Syllabus with Miss Daphne ------- I was six years old.
From then on, my dream was to attend the school, work in the theatre, have my own dance school and eventually become an examiner for the I.S.T.D.
What an effect Miss Daphne had on me!!!
I remember my interview/audition with Miss Davies as being warm, friendly & encouraging ..... also the cigarette holder, a part of Miss Davies!
The years as a student were wonderful. The teachers were magnificent. Many happy memories with Miss Daphne, Miss Joyce, Edna Graham (singing) plus visiting staff including Gwen Carter & Ivor Meggido.
At Bush, we were always encouraged to fulfil our ambitions ... & I did. Going on to work in the theatre for some years, then having my own dance academy & becoming an Examiner for the I.S.T.D.
I feel blessed to have attended Bush Davies and know that without the love and care there, some of us would not be where we are today.
Any old students out there from my year? ....would love to hear from you. My e-mail address is above.
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From Juliette Levey
Re CYNTHIA BLOWERS and memories of Charters in the late 1940s.
I knew Cynthia only for the six months I spent at Charters Towers. She was the very first person I spoke to when getting off the bus to enter the drive and walk in to my new world. We were both aged eleven and the year must have been 1947/48ish. She welcomed me with a huge smile, and said, "I’m Cynthia, what is your name?” She then told me that she had only been in the school for 6 months, and that I would be fine. She offered to walk me to the school and I gratefully agreed. She took me under her wing that day, showed me around the school and introduced me to others. She and I slept in the "big dorm", there were about l5 of us in all. You can see the big dorm in the photograph of the main house on the Homepage. It’s the second window in from the right on the first floor, at the front of the house Cynthia slept in the corner bed; I can picture her now, small, delicate looking (but amazingly strong) with short fair hair.
After tea she walked me to a separate building made of wood, our School House as we called it which was really a kind of pavilion, with a passage containing of all things three white baths! These were used by a few trusted senior girls who slept in a separate annexe building. Leading from the passage were three separate classrooms. Cynthia and I were in the same class. Cynthia's favourite dance was classical ballet. But being Cynthia she worked equally hard at all other theatre dance subjects. I well remember her warnings to me before I entered my first tap class, “Juliette you just must learn the routines as quickly as you can and for goodness' sake just pick them up and practice.” I took her timely advice.
We were in the same ballet class. (Primary and Elementary) only we called them Prime. and Elie. Cynthia used to dance a little in front of me. I was put in the back with other new students. It seems like yesterday, dancing behind her, looking at her long graceful limbs moving. Her arms, her feet so very, very arched. and her head movements were just wonderful. I used to try to bend my feet at night to emulate her instep. A physical impossibility!
I can well remember practising MC (Musical Comedy) with Cynthia. It was all strange to me, lots of modern turns, high/low/circular kicks, step ball changes and lunges. Today of course it is now known as Modern Dance. Cynthia was just brilliant at all of this and seemed to know always without being told just when to flick her arms and head. I can clearly remember attempting full spin turns from one corner of the room to the other in a diagonal line and hearing Miss Cath's (Carter) voice calling out, "Leave your heads behind and flick" and "Fix your eyes on the same spot and look at the spot again after turning." Cynthia managed easily, and my own head just reeled.
Tap was taught by Miss Gwen Carter a slightly older sister. Miss Gwen was herself a brilliant tap dancer and used to demonstrate in school displays. She had loads of patience with us all. Cynthia, myself and others all used to tap on a special tapping mat. There were usually two on the go. We all wore for tap and for that matter morning school, our regulation black trousers and blouses/jumpers. For ballet we only had ballet shoes, unblocked, and a simple ballet tunic in white satin - no tights yet, it was just after World War II and supplies of everything were short. The older students, those working for their Intermediate exam all had plum woollen tights.
I remember Miss Cath coming into our dorm to dress several girls as practice for their major exams; Cynthia was one of them. They all wore really beautiful tutus and pink tights. Miss Cath put three large pennies inside their tights and wound strong cotton around them to erase crinkles.. They then went to Miss Bush to be looked over.
Miss Bush - I hardly saw Miss Bush except for the Monday afternoon ballet class. This was always about two hours long, and I was usually left at the beginning to settle down as were the other newcomers. Nevertheless when I started to improve she started to encourage me and I would walk out on air. Cynthia adored it all and would have stayed forever if she could. I watched Miss Bush work out her steps first in front of us; she would then teach them to us. We sometimes had difficulty in following. Cynthia just danced them all correctly the first time. She instinctively knew what was wanted.
Mr. Leopold was always kind to me, but he mainly taught the more advanced tap students who were near the gold medal standard, which I certainly was not, therefore I saw little of him. Other pupils informed me he was a brilliant tap dancer and teacher who had in his earlier life spent many years in the entertainment industry, as a performer. He did cover a great deal of the administrative work of the school.
We had two dogs there. Roger, an all black huge mongrel who was just sweet, and loved to be patted, and Nana a brown and white long-eared dog, who was old and would growl at us a lot.
I can remember Cynthia feeling very homesick at times for her home in South Africa, and it must have been a great strain for her to be studying in a different country whilst her family lived abroad. I believe she had an aunt who lived in Leigh-on-Sea. She was a born leader. Her best friend was called Jennifer Linden and they were really close. They took their Elementary together. Cynthia got 83 marks - I remember it well.
MA (Music Appreciation) was a no-no with Cynthia. She used to get me to hide in a school cupboard with closed doors whilst the senior girls did a round up of the juniors to attend. It was the one class that was rather unpopular. Week after week we hid in this small store cupboard in our classroom and missed the lessons. One day, I thought I would give it and try, did so and absolutely loved it and went ever since. Cynthia was none too pleased.
Every Saturday we walked with Miss Cath in a crocodile to East Grinstead for shopping. We just loved Saturdays; easy classes in the morning: the school always gave us fish and chips for Saturday lunch. Then it was Town and in the evening we were free. Sundays we were free too. Sometimes the class went to church, sometimes not.
Paul Kimm used to visit the school. He must have been around l3/14 years. He used to organise terrific communal games in the school grounds. He just loved to direct us all and to 'take on the role as our leader'. I can picture him now. To me he was tall with light brown to fair hair.
Sometimes Marjorie Davies used to visit the school from Romford to take the occasional class. A very vivacious person. Her mum was introduced to me and all the other new children as our Auntie Taffy. All the children used to rush for cuddles with squeals of delight. I clearly remember Jane Kimm who was two years older then me. Jane slept in a smaller dorm called the Gallery Dorm. I heard many years later that she was in The Boy Friend at the Wyndham's Theatre.
We had a lady called Mrs Staples. She was the school cook, and used to bang an enormous gong rather too loudly to announce a meal was ready. One day, whilst Miss Bush was taking a character class in the large hall it was lunch time, and Mrs Staples proceeded to bang the gong. Miss Bush's counting got louder and louder and the gong was hit stronger and stronger. We were all lining up for lunch and watched amazed as the noise set to. We wondered who was going to win? In the end Miss Bush lost it and shouted at her, "Damn you." and carried on counting. It’s funny how silly things remain in my mind.
Queuing up for Malt and our tuck was important to us. After lunch the juniors lined up and our Matron gave us our own labelled Malt from our own jars. Oh how we loved that treat. Sweets were still severely rationed so the malt was a replacement. We had to hand over our tuck when it arrived in a parcel, and this was doled out by Matron every day.
Other children in my dorm were:
Jennifer Bindon, Ruth Liz, or Liss, Christina Gillespie (who became a débutante) we called her Tinker, Marlene Goodhew, Daphne Goodhew, Audrey Williams, Caroline Fielding, Lorretta Young, Wendy MacSoley, Shirley Kay Marfleet. Anne Jackson, Jennine Willis.
Older girls names - Ann Hanslip, Valerie Bonner (whose mum became our matron), Leone Franklin, Janice Hartman, Lee or Leigh Rose, Joyce de la Haye. There was also a really lovely person, a senior girl of about l9 years who was called Elizabeth Pike. We adored her and called her Pikie; she taught us drama.
My wonderful memories of Bush Davies:
Cuddling Roger the Dog, and of course Nana also.
Getting and making others apple pie beds.
Having midnight feasts with food pinched from the current day's menu,. We had these in the big dorm usually around 9 pm as we did not want to wait until 12.
We used to Quiz and Ego our saved loot.
The swimming pool.
Fish and Chips on Saturday lunchtime.
The trips to East Grinstead, particularly Woolworth's and a special baker's shop that sold meringues with cream.
The chores that the big dorm were expected to do on rota such as Lay Out, (banging down rapidly knives, forks, spoons, plates etc.) and Clear Away, which was carting everything off to the kitchen.
Building our individual houses in the woods where we used to play for hours,
Playing organised games with Paul Kimm who was just brilliant at getting us all involved.
Sneaking out of bounds with Cynthia Blowers to look at a racecourse, and to pick wild chestnuts covered in prickles.
The dance classes which I at first found so bewildering and ended up loving.
Drama lessons with Miss Bird. (She gave us a play to act out called "Pink String and Sealing Wax” which at that time was quite famous.
The lovely smell of the wooden school house. It was probably creosote on the wood.
The post war food!
Pinching apples and carrots from the school store room.
Cynthia in charge of hanging up all our home made paper chains before the Christmas holiday. She directed proceedings and we followed.
All such precious memories are stored in my brain, and all happened in my six months at Bush Davies. There is nothing in the world that can ever take these wonderful memories away from me.
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