Judith Haslam

Sometime between 1961 and 1965 I used to attend dancing classes upstairs in a room at the Bluecoat. My teacher was Monica Bretherton who ran classes all over Liverpool and the Wirral. I had been attending her ballet and tap classes in Crosby from the age of six or seven. Then, when I was around 14 she suggested that I travel in to Liverpool by bus or sometimes train after school in order to have more advanced lessons and to take up Modern Dance too. I would go and have a cup of tea and a toasted tea-cake before the classes, as I would then not get home until perhaps 8 o’clock at night. I was a bit in awe of Miss Bretherton but she was a wonderful woman and teacher.

When my father was off work for many months she insisted on my carrying on classes free until my parents could afford to pay again. I’m afraid all I can remember of the Bluecoat is a courtyard, winding wooden staircases, brass handles, and the sound of piano floating downstairs to lead me the way up. Was it there that I first came across the word ‘varsity’ on a sign on a door that I had to pass to get to my class? I was mystified by what this could mean for some time. My Mum and Dad both thought it a special place. My Dad had worked as an electrician on the docks for many years before. Later I visited the Bluecoat when I was an art student in Southport then London.