Last week I asked for help with some mystery pictures from The News archive which featured members of a dance troupe and the massed ranks of the Portsmouth Dancing to Health League.
We saw them demonstrating their prowess on Southsea Common and in the old Guildhall, as seen in the pictures here.
Jackie Gauntlett got in touch to say that her late mother was a member of the group and says they wore woollen swimsuits with sashes.
‘They gave demonstrations before the war on the land between Canoe Lake and the sea and were trained by Miss Southwell Pearce,’ says Jackie, of Portsdown Hill Road, Cosham.
‘I remember her in the ’50s and ’60s walking around Southsea. She was a large lady with a lot of grey hair worn in a huge bun on her head.’
Jackie says other dance teachers of the time – names which will doubtless spark memories for readers – were: Miss Jean Hapgood, Miss Mary Tomkin ‘who also taught many of us ballroom dancing’, and Audrey Brown.
Of the girls I featured in the satin white shirts and black pants, Jackie confirms they were members of the Portsmouth branch of the Women’s League of Health and Beauty. ‘They also had a junior section which I belonged to. I still have the silver badge we all wore.
‘I remember going to the Royal Albert Hall to take part in a huge national demonstration when we all did the same routine. This was about 1956.
She also thinks many readers will recall the Margaret Spillman model agency in Clarendon Road, Southsea.
‘She organised fashion shows and her models would always be in Handleys [now Debenhams] on Saturday mornings, in the restaurant at coffee time showing off the clothes on sale in the fashion department. This was in the early 1960s.’
And with a nod to those days of decorum, Jackie adds: ‘Margaret also ran courses for teenaged girls – a week of daily lessons in which they were taught how to talk, sit, get in and out of cars, how to wear gloves and stoles and generally behave like young ladies.’
We’re doing well solving picture mysteries, so here’s another. This photo has emerged from the Remember When files. It arrived anonymously and with no clue about the girl’s identity. Anyone recognise her?