Jack Earley, one of Sutton Bridge’s long-standing residents, remembers the dinner-dances that were held at the Bridge Hotel. The hotel was the social centre for the district and the functions that were held were attended by people from miles around. It was owned by Soames Brewery (Norwich) and the manager and his wife – Tom and Sadie Burns – would greet their guests in evening dress. Dancing was popular in the fifties and people like to dress up when they went out. It was probably a reaction from the austerities of the war, when everything was rationed. Clothing rations continued until 1949.
Jack and his wife Olive like dancing. He recalls that they met at a dance – in 1942 at a Regimental Dance in the Rink Ballroom, Sunderland. His eye had been caught by a young lady in a blue lace dress and he decided he’d like to have a dance with her. Each time the music started for the next dance, he was beaten to it by others with the same intention as himself. This happened three times and by that time, Jack said ‘he was getting a bit mad’. However this made him all the more determined and as soon as the music started again, he was there, and ‘pounced’ on Olive and led her on to the floor. This was in February 1942; in December, they married.
Jack said another venue for dancing was the Barn Restaurant in Bridge Road, in what had previously been the cinema, on the site between the old school and the hardware store. He and Olive regularly went dancing here too.