OVER the past six decades, generations of dancers have walked through the doors of Twinkletoes.

The dancewear specialists has been in Bradford since 1959 - and is now entering a new era. Ann Hassan, who took over the shop 32 years ago, is retiring and new owner Andrea Warne, a dance teacher who has been visiting Twinkletoes since she was a child, will continue its long tradition of selling dance shoes, clothes and accessories.

Ann used the shop in the 1970s when her daughter Michelle was having dance lessons. “I was six when I first came here,” said Michelle, who started helping out as a Saturday girl when her mum bought the shop.

Michelle went on to become a professional dancer and is now the court usher on ITV’s Judge Rinder.

Twinkletoes was originally at Westgate, founded by Edith Padgett, who ran a dance school and taught the Alhambra panto Sunbeams. The shop later moved to Barkerend Road, where it remains today, and Ann bought it from Edith’s son. “I walked in one day and said, “I’d love a shop like this’. I had no experience but I took it on in 1987 and have been here ever since,” said Ann. “Many customers remember coming here as a child - now they bring their own children. Four generations of one family came in recently; they were all dancers and had been customers for years.”

“When Mrs Padgett opened Twinkletoes it was the only dancewear shop in the region. Before that, you had to go to London. When I took over she said: ‘Good luck with it but don’t change the name’. It’s an institution in Bradford; dance schools have been very loyal over the years. It’s fantastic that it has survived all these years, even through the Recession and Bradford's hole in the ground.

"We've had people coming here from across the region. They often go into Bradford afterwards, to visit the shops, so we're bringing people into the city.

"Even in this age of online retail people still like the personal touch, and they like to be able to try things on. Our customers are aged three to 83. A couple in their 80s came in recently for ballroom shoes.”

Over the years Ann has supplied dancewear for the Alhambra panto and for Matthew Bourne's New Adventures, one of the UK's top dance companies.

Famous customers have included Barbara Windsor, Les Dawson and, more recently, Emmerdale star Amy Walsh. Ann remembers Bradford actor Joe Duttine, who plays Tim Metcalfe in Coronation Street, coming in as a student. “I sold him a pair of tap shoes which he took to college,” she said. “I’ve seen lots of dance trends over the years; it was all legwarmers and leotards in the 80s when Fame was on TV, and every year when Strictly’s on there’s a boom in ballroom and latin wear.”

Added Michelle: "There are so many dance shows on TV now, which inspire people to take up dance. We've seen an increase in boys coming in for dance gear."

Andrea, who teaches freestyle and Boogie Bounce at Bingley Dance Studio, said: “I remember Ann fitting my pointe shoes for me here when I was a kid. There’s such a big dance school heritage in Bradford, and Twinkletoes is part of that. I’m looking forward to carrying on that tradition, and taking it into a new era.”

Ann has mixed emotions about leaving Twinkletoes: “It’s been my life for a long time, I’ll miss it. I’d have carried on as long as possible until I could hand it to the right person. I know it has a great future with Andrea.”