Astor Tea Dance to be held again on Plymouth Hoe

THE ICONIC Plymouth tea dances of the Second World War are to be held again on Plymouth Hoe as part of the Lady Astor Statue Campaign celebrating 100 years of women in Parliament. 

For one day only there will be dancing again with a band, professional dancers on hand and sailors in uniform on May 26th this year between 1pm and 4pm.

The original tea dances were organised by Nancy and Waldorf Astor during the Second World War to boost morale after the city was bombed almost beyond recognition during the Blitz.

On March 20, 1941 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited Plymouth to view the bombing damage. Only hours after they left, Plymouth was engulfed in fire in one of the worst air raids Britain had ever seen. In just a few nights, from March to April of 1941, 59 bombing raids took place. Plymouth would never be the same again – 1,172 civilians lost their lives and over 4,000 were injured. Nancy’s generosity and humanitarian efforts touched many lives as Plymouth re-emerged from the rubble.

In the wake of this devastation the tea dances were held on The Hoe and Lady Astor famously joined those dancing. At the time Waldorf Astor said: “The people of Plymouth have danced on the Hoe during the darkest days of war. They will dance here again in peace on a Hoe which overlooks a city which has been planned for them, for a wider, freer, healthier, and more prosperous life.”

As part of the Lady Astor Statue Appeal many pensioners who remembered Nancy Astor contacted the project. Among them was Alice Jones, 92, who said: “I danced on The Hoe promenade in front of Elliot Terrace, Lady Astor on the microphone urging us girls to dance with the many servicemen from all nations. A statue in her memory is long overdue. Her good works will live on forever. God bless her. We will ever be grateful to her.”

Project Leader Alexis Bowater said: “We had so many people contacting us with memories and in particular recalling these tea dances that we thought it would be fun, fitting and poignant tribute to them to fulfil the promise Waldorf Astor made all those years ago.

“The people of Plymouth will dance again on The Hoe, in peacetime, on May 26th this year, with representatives of Her Majesty’s Armed Services and those who remember the dances from the first time round. We are keeping the event free to join but all donations and sponsorship is of course very welcome.”

The event will be called the ‘Nancy Astor Tea Dance with a Twist!’ and is being run by Plymouth Dance. It includes a band and professional dancers who will be on hand to dance with members of the public. Everyone is welcome.

Starting at 1pm and ending at 4pm on 26th May 2019 it will be held on The Hoe in Plymouth overlooking the Sound. Participants are encouraged to bring their own refreshments although there are teas available at nearby cafes, the Crowne Plaza and also The Treasury.

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