White School of Dancing

What happened to the John Bosco Hall

The White School of Dancing was held at the John Boscoe Hall in Benfleet High Road.
Does anyone remember this little dancing club? It was run by George and Molly White one evening a week after school.

The hall  stood in the High Road virtually opposite what is now ‘Belgravia Florist’.

I attended with my sister for the princely sum of half a crown per person a session (must have been pre 1971). My neighbours Tim and Marianne Hill also attended. I think the Mottram twins were members too.  My sister Karen Lipscomb went on to do all kinds of dance exams that I never aspired to.

{A search for a photo of the hall has proved unsuccessful, therefore if anyone has one of either the outside or the inside that they would like to share with us, we would be pleased to hear from them.}

Editor’s update:
My daughter went to the dancing school briefly in the late eighties and, I believe, they transferred to the Richmond Hall when the site was redeveloped and replaced with flats.  I, and probably many others, always assumed the hall had just been demolished as has been the fate of many of our old buildings.  In fact this is not the case!

John Bosco Hall relocated to Daws Heath. Echo Cutting

By chance, when searching for something quite unrelated,  we have come across this ‘Echo’ article published on 30th October 1980.  It tells us that, amazingly, the Hall was actually moved to a new site in Daws Heath and enjoyed a second life as a social hall for St. Michael’s church.  (Another of our members remembers attending country dancing sessions there!)

John Bosco Hall relocated to Daws Heath

The article was also accompanied by this photograph of the Hall installed on its new site.  I was so pleased to find this and I hope this brings back more memories for those of you who remember it in the High Road!
Don’t forget if you do have any photographs we would still like to see them.

John Boscoe Hall, photo by John Di Benedetto

Editor’s note: John Di Benedetto, one of our Facebook contributors shared the above photo with us on 6th January 2024, adding the comment “The building was disassembled and reassembled in Thundersley at the church on the corner of Saint Michaels Road and Bramble Road”

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  • I attended ballet & tap classes in the hall, along with many of my school friends, from 1973 until 1980.
    The teachers were Miss Vanda (Vanda Morgan) and then Mrs Wheeler, the pianist was Mrs Fairman.
    The hall always seemed dark and the floor always dusty.

    We had pale pink leotards, tights and ballet shoes and they were always filthy at the end of the class!
    The classes were on a Thursday late afternoon. The piano was on a little raised area on the left in the main hall.
    There were loos/changing area in a room preceding it as you entered from the front doors.
    As far as I knew the hall was demolished in 1981 to make way for the flats which still stand there.

    Imagine my total surprise and disbelief when in 2021 while standing at the corner of St Michael’s Road in Daws Heath, a local man asked me if I ever attended dance classes in the area as a child.
    When I told him that I did and where these were he asked if I knew what became of the John Bosco Hall in High Road Benfleet. I said that it had been demolished many years ago and he replied that it hadn’t been demolished and in fact it was right there opposite me!! I simply could not believe it!!! He explained that it had been bought and moved panel by panel and even the parquet floor had been moved and reinstated there. The very floor I had danced on for many years!

    I have since been in the hall a few times and it always makes me smile to think that I’m in a place that I knew so well and that I thought I’d never see again let alone discover that I now live right opposite it, especially after returning to the area after 30 years of living in North London!

    By Lorna Mahoney (neé Edwards) (26/12/2023)
  • My memories of John Boscoe hall were my dancing lessons ( ballet and tap)when it was a mrs Wheeler and miss Vonda. Think that was in the late 60’s.🤔

    By Melanie Bennett (29/03/2023)
  • I believe the St John Bosco Hall in Benfleet was originally owned by the Catholic Church (Holy Family) and that the Sisters of Mercy Nuns started the current Primary School in St John Bosco Hall c1963 but relocated to its present site in Kent’s Hill Road in the late sixties. I seem to remember from the 40th & 50th anniversary of the school there were some pictures of the old John Bosco Hall. Maybe contact the school to see if they can help?

    By Julie Davidson (29/03/2023)
  • I also attended the White School of Dancing and remember my face being pushed under Molly’s armpit as we foxtrotted around the hall. I remember winning a box of fruit in the raffle at a fund raising event. We used to jump on the chairs and stamp our feet to the last dance of the evening but I can’t remember what it was. They also started a Saturday morning class at the top of the escalator in Basildon Town Square. I went with my friend every Saturday to help and I think they gave us a very small sum of money.

    By Gill (28/03/2023)
  • My sister and I used to have ballroom dancing lessons there with the White School of Dancing in the 70s. I think they were George & Molly White. I still remember George walking around the hall holding a candle, shaving pieces off it to stop the dancers slipping on the floor 😄

    By Susan Thomas (27/03/2023)
  • Editor’s Note: What became of the John Bosco Hall, see our new comment.

    By Jenny Day (27/03/2023)
  • I went to the White School of Dancing in the 60s with my friend Linda Edwards (now Cox). We both got medals for ballroom and latin American dance. I must admit I bore my friends every year when Strictly’s on TV!

    By Moira Hawtin (10/03/2023)
  • My sister and I attended the dance classes early 1970’s and enjoyed every minute of it…except when Molly made me wiggle my hips in the rumba!

    We’re both in our late 50’s now and still dance the jive and chachacha at family parties!

    Happy days! Shaun & Gale Browne

    By Shaun (24/03/2021)

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