Tributes to ‘one of Dearne’s best’ dancers

Obit Harold Hulley professional ballroom dancer
Obit Harold Hulley professional ballroom dancer

A fleet-footed ballroom star who ‘lived for dancing’ has died aged 94.

Mexborough-born Harold Hulley and his wife Doreen, nee Edwards, were known as one of the most successful professional dancing partnerships of the 1950s.

They competed in competitions up and down the country and also taught dance classes across West Yorkshire.

Following his death recently, family and friends have put together a touching obituary, detailing his unlikely success under the bright lights.

Part of the obit reads: “No smoking, no drinking, no gambling – dancing was his life. He danced going upstairs, he danced coming downstairs, and if he thought no one was looking, he danced in the street.”

Mr Hulley’s talents on the dance floor were unexpected given that he had left school at he age of 14 to work as a coal miner.

But dancing was his passion and as a teenager he put on his smartest clothes for dancing several nights a week in Mexborough’s Empress Ballroom.

He started going for lessons with Constance Grant in Sheffield, recognised at the time as one of the country’s best dance teachers.

Every weekend he was at the Empress Ballroom, or further afield to compete in amateur competitions.

During wartime he developed pneumonia and was never able to work down the pit again. He was set on as a dance tutor by Miss Grant and soon after met his wife to be Doreen.

Miss Edwards, also a professional dancer, was an occasional pupil of Miss Grant, and she also demonstrated steps and movements to less advanced pupils, often with Mr Hulley as her partner.

A professional relationship developed but the romance had to wait until they started to meet at competitions in Blackpool Tower and the Winter Gardens.

After they married, the partnership lasted more than 50 years. They later opened a dance school in Halifax, and then one in Wakefield.

The couple (left) taught the entire range of steps and styles, and their success in competitions established them as one of the country’s best.

When not teaching or competing, they gave exhibitions. But the Viennese Waltz remained their speciality, helping them become the Old Time British Professional champions for two years running.

A mark of their success was winning a Carl Allen award – the dancing world equivalent of an Oscar.

They were also appointed examiners by the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing, and made numerous appearances on television as competitors, demonstrators and adjudicators.