Strictly ballroom all those years ago

10:02am Tuesday 4th May 2010

By Chris Holland

Former Yorkshire and England cricketer Ray Illingworth visited the scene of his youth when he attended the opening of a new restaurant in his home village of Farsley.

The former master off-spinner was one of several invited guests joining the celebrations at Deeva, a new Asian diner in Town Street, which is the latest venture of Calverley-based businessman Zulfi Hussain.

The restaurant occupies what was originally a Wesleyan chapel built in 1846, but which will probably be better remembered as the former Porritt’s dance hall.

For many years from the 1950s, it was where generations of locals learned to dance, with many meeting their future partners there.

Ray Illingworth was among the regular pupils of Mrs Beatrice Porritt, who was a dance teacher and competition judge.

The Deeva opening was also attended by John Anderson, who worked at Pudsey Civic Hall, who met his wife of 45 years, the late Shirley, at the venue in its heyday.

Hull-born Mr Anderson, who also celebrated his 82nd birthday at Deeva, said the premises were used as a dance hall for more than 20 years.

Other Deeva opening guests included Jack and Shirley Stewart, of Shipley, who were regulars at the dance school from its earliest days.

Shirley said: “Mrs Porritt’s dance classes were originally held in the Conservative Club across the road from the old chapel.

“When the building became vacant in about 1952, the Porritts bought it, and the men from the dance class, including Jack, helped with the renovation and conversion work.

“I became friendly with Mr and Mrs Porritt, and when Jack was doing his National Service in Singapore, I sometimes stayed with them in their small flat above the dance hall.”

Shirley also recalled having the occasional dance with the young Ray Illingworth.

Zulfi Hussain said he was delighted that people with memories of the restaurant’s early days had attended the opening. The decor at Deeva includes old photographs from its days as a dance hall.

He and his business partner Sanjeer Johar, who is also the village postmaster in Farsley, have created eight new jobs at the £1m 80-seat restaurant.

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