TO the generations of customers who have walked into Twinkletoes over the past 62 years, it is much more than a shop.

With frills and sparkles everywhere - ballet, ballroom, jazz and tap shoes, tutus, leotards, bags and bows - the dancewear specialists has enchanted youngsters for decades, and they never forget it. Chances are, if you've been to dance school in the district, or appeared in a show, you’ll have been to this little Barkerend Road shop - now one of Bradford's oldest businesses - for shoes or a leotard.

“People remember it from when they were little, and now they’re bringing their children and grandchildren,” says Andrea Warne, owner of Twinkletoes - the Telegraph & Argus Trader of the Week.

“The other day four generations of the same family came in - daughter, mum, grandma and great-grandma - and they all had memories of Twinkletoes. It’s a special place to lots of people. Children love coming here, they don’t want to leave! They often go home in their new leotards after trying them on.”

Andrea was eight-years-old when she first went to Twinkletoes. “I had a new pair of pointe shoes, I still remember them,” she smiles. “Ann fitted them for me.”

That was previous owner Ann Hassan, who had the Bradford shop for over 30 years before selling it to Andrea in 2019 when she retired. Andrea, who teaches dance at Bingley Dance Studio, has taken Twinkletoes into a new era, while retaining the traditional look that customers have loved since it first opened in 1959.

“When I took over from Ann she asked if I would keep the name Twinkletoes. I said ‘Of course - it could never be anything else’. That’s what everyone knows it as,” says Andrea, who has also retained the shop’s trademark pink colour scheme.

Twinkletoes was established in 1960 by Edith Padgett, a well known Bradford dance teacher who taught the Alhambra Sunbeams. Originally at Westgate, the shop later moved to Barkerend Road, where it still is today, and Edith ran it with her son until 1987 when Ann took over the business, later running it with her daughter, Michelle.

“When Ann said she wanted to retire I decided to take it on. It has such a long history in Bradford and I wanted to keep that going,” says Andrea. “I have decorated and bought new furniture, and I have a new range of dancewear, but other than that the shop is more or less the same. I’m carrying on the Twinkletoes tradition while taking it into a new era.

“There is such a rich heritage of dance schools in the Bradford district and this shop is a big part of that.”

The shop supplies dancewear and accessories to local dance schools, amateur dramatic societies, ballroom dancers, majorettes, ice skaters and fitness clubs. It also supplies to professional companies appearing at the Alhambra, and many a star has graced the stage in footwear supplied by Twinkletoes. Online sales bring in regular customers from around the world, including America and New Zealand.

And famous faces have called in to the shop over years, including Dame Barbara Windsor, Les Dawson, Alhambra panto king Billy Pearce, Kimberley Walsh and her sister, Emmerdale star Amy Walsh, and Coronation Street actor Joe Duttine.

With dance schools and theatres closing during lockdown, there was an impact on business at Twinkletoes, but Andrea says it’s getting busy again now: “I’ve had students who are about to start dance courses at college and university coming in. And the new series of Strictly Come Dancing starting in September will be a boost - every year it inspires a new generation of kids to take up dancing. I sell a lot of ballroom shoes when Strictly is on!”

Andrea has recently introduced Bloch, a new range of leotards, tutus, tights and wrap skirts. “Baby ballet is really popular now so I’ve started selling cute little tutus and cardigans,” she says.

“Ballet shoes and clothes are always the most popular items, and we sell gymnastics leotards too.”

Customers range in age from toddlers to pensioners. Many of the youngsters go on to work in theatre. Previous owner Ann Hassan first used the shop in the 1970s when her daughter Michelle, who became a professional dancer, was having dance lessons.

When Ann retired in 2019 she told the T&A: “When Mrs Padgett opened Twinkletoes back in 1959 it was the only dancewear shop in the region. Before that, you had to go to London. When I took over she said: ‘Don’t change the name’. It’s an institution in Bradford, and dance schools have been very loyal.

"It’s fantastic that it has survived all these years. Even in this age of online retail, people still like the personal touch.”

* Twinkletoes is at Newcastle House, Barkerend Road, Bradford. Visit or call (01274) 728648.