Maidenhead Scottish Dancing Club

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A history of Maidenhead Scottish Dancing Club in its 67th year

Maidenhead Scottish Dancing Club was formed in 1951 by a group of teachers from what was then Maidenhead County Girls School. They met in a wooden hut at the rear of the Art College in Marlow Road, where they were joined by staff from the Grasslands Research Institute at Hurley. The first teacher was a "lady from London". Alan Cameron took over from her from 1956 to 1973 Following Alan, from 1973 to 1979 the instructor was Colin Robertson Remarkably however, the 18 years service of Alan Cameron has been far exceeded by the irrepressible Bill Forbes who had been doing the job since 1979!
In the earlier years the club season finished in May, but in 1988 club members voted NOT to stop dancing in the summer months but to continue fortnightly, thus reducing the impact of weight and fitness of having a 12 week break!
By 1964 a highland class had begun, taught by one of the staunch members of the club, Gabrielle Nixon. The class was affiliated to the club in its early years. In 1964 there were over 30 children taking part in highland lessons. The class continued up to 1982, taught by Betty Appleton and then Leslie Carder/Sutton.
During the 1960's the club had a demonstration team. In fact for a while there were two teams, one mixed and one all ladies' They met on Thursdays at the Elmslie School, which used to be on Castle Hill. just below Mencap. They had their own piper, Jack Smith and three of the dancers did Highland spots. Gabrielle Nixon also played a small harp. The 60's dem team danced regularly at the Windsor Rose Show, and also at weddings, fetes and festivals in the area.
In 1976, Kathy Parsons started a children's country dance class, which boasted about 20 children. During the late eighties and early nineties, an associated advanced class was held, taught by various guest teachers. A beginners class also began in the 1980's run jointly by Rowena Kelley and Steve Kelly. This class continued to meet, with Steve Kelly in charge, in Furze Platt Memorial Hall, into the 21st century but it folded a few years ago because of lack of numbers.In 2004 a children's class as an after school Scottish Dance Club was started by Joan Doughty at St Mary's RC School in Maidenhead, Joan ran this class for 3 years, assisted by Sheila Lawton and Jane Courtier.
So far as we have been able to ascertain, the HIGHLAND BALL seems to have been run by the club at least as far back as 1963. It is also believed that this was the first and only Highland Ball held in the Borders Branch area in the sixties and early seventies. The Ball was held at the then new Maidenhead Town Hall However, tiered seating was later installed which meant that the half could not accommodate the numbers for a ball so a new venue had to be found. Since 1989 it has been held, whenever possible, at Brigidine School in Windsor. In the sixties the band for the ball was usually McBains followed later by Brian Hamilton Since 1975 the band has usually been Frank Reid.  Marian Anderson' band has played for us and was chosen for the 60th Celebration occasion, .
Ceilidhs have been a feature of the club too In the eighties there was a spate of fancy dress Ceilidhs and before that, there were many that included highland dancing, harp playing as well as various other items.
Day schools were run by the club in the sixties with about 50-60 attending In the late eighties they were revived again for a few years with up to 110 attendees. However, in both cases a lot of work was required from club members, so when numbers attending the day schools dwindled, they were stopped.
The Tea Dance is a relatively recent innovation as they have been held for only 12 years or so. These dances attract people who prefer to dance in the daytime or who no longer attend Evening Dances and Balls The Tea Dances have been held in different venues over the years but for the last few years now we have been successfully using the Carnation Hall in Winkfield Row.
Over the years there have been fifteen Chairmen / ladies. Three of the chairpersons have served twice, namely Leo Hill, and George Flett.  We notably also have had a long serving secretary, in Diane Hoskins, who has pointed out that even after she no longer held the position people assumed that she was still our secretary!.

In 2001 we had a most successful Golden Anniversary celebration where many past members came to join in the celebrations and also in 2011 the event of Maidenhead's 60th Anniversary
We had a very successful party to celebrate Maidenhead's 60 years. Both former and current members enjoyed an entertaining afternoon at Manor Green School. Members ranged from those who had danced as teenagers in the fifties to some who have recently joined and just started to learn to dance. As everyone arrived there were display boards where members could search for themselves and friends in the photographs and newspaper items.
Almost all joined in the first dance, A Highland Welcome. The then current chairman, Rex Pearse, introduced various former members who recalled anecdotes from their time at the Club. Then the Reading Demonstration Team were admired as they gave a display of reels and strathspeys.
There was more dancing for those who wished although the plan of a dance for each decade could not be completed in the time available. A delicious tea was supplied by current members and gave time for everyone to chat and reminisce. All too soon it was time for Auld Lang Syne and the journey home which varied from locally back into Maidenhead to further afield including Wellingborough, Wincanton, Christchurch, Cirencester and Swanage.