"All the girls sat at that side and all the lads at that…" Highvolume Play Pause Stop

The main hall at Calderstones. Likely to be 1960s.
Courtesy of David Fitzpatrick
A dance at in the hall at Calderstones probably in the 1960s.
Courtesy of David Fitzpatrick
At the cinema in the hall at Calderstones, probably in the 1960s.
Courtesy David Fitzpatrick
Extract from an interview with Mrs Brenda Kay on October 14th 2016. Audio: 2m 9s

Aged 15 years old, Mrs Brenda Kay started as a Cadet Nurse at Brockhall Hospital in 1954. Here she remembers the dances and pictures in her early years. As a member of staff Brenda was expected to control the contact between boys and girls, men and women.

(The photographs are of Calderstones, but it is likely that the images from Brockhall would have been similar.)


One staff with one ward of patients shall we say because you are perhaps only taking 15 or 20. So you escorted them down to the dance and when you went in the door the sister was there. I mean male patients were going in over there and the male staff there, so we were still segregated. So you went and you said to Sister who was in charge of the dance that night, Fifteen from such a ward. Yeah you stand over there. Little me, you go and stand there with your back agin the wall and that’s where you stop for the duration of the dance. And of course a bit further down there’d be another one. And our job was to make sure they (the patients) didn’t have more than two dances with the same patient… Mind you it was like that in the villages – all the girls sat at that side and all the lads at that – ! So it were just like that as it was when we went to dances anyway. So that weren’t any different. Course when they announced the dance there was a big rush, you know. But they were only supposed to have two dances and they hadn’t to get too close and we’d to watch. Well I mean I wasn’t that damned interested in it really. I wanted a dance myself, me. And I don’t think Sister – it depended which sister was on duty obviously…

… I mean pictures were worst! ‘Cos you couldn’t watch them in pictures because it was blessed dark! And they were passing notes you see and that was our job to make sure there were no notes passed. Well you couldn’t see what they were doing. I mean they were down there, and these were – I mean they’d to get it from there across here anyway and pass it to Maggie Brown or whoever. But you know it was a bit daft really.

And what would happen if someone was caught passing a note?

Oh they probably wouldn’t be able to go to pictures the following week.

And you’re talking about the dances and the way people are separated at the dances –

Oh we’d have to take them back to the ward if they’d had too many dances probably – I don’t know, I never did it!

So what happened in the pictures with men and women, or boys and girls?

They were there and they were there, you see. Males were down that side and females were down this side.

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