COFFEY TIME reader Phil Newton, from Huyton, has shared a story of how the 1948 film The Red Shoes, featuring dancer Neville Astor, had local connections.

Phil wrote: “His real name was Jim Morris and he came from St Helens. It starred Moira Shearer in the lead and Marius Goring as a young composer.

“Jim is in the celebration crowd scene in the story and can be spotted at a rehearsal in the ballet /story of a magic shoemaker and demon shoes which lead to tragedy.

It was based on a tale by Hans Christian Andersen.

“He`d danced with the Carl Rosa Company, perhaps during or before the war. In the 50s and 60s he held a class at the Prescot Community Hall opposite the Wellington Pub at the junction of St Helens Road on Monday nights.

He ran classes in the mid 50s in Sefton Park. He might have also held a class at Parr.

“He and his wife, whose name eludes me now, lived in what were a row of bungalows further down the road towards St Helens on the left.

They both worked at Pilkingtons, in the admin I think.

“He wheeled a reel to reel tape recorder and directed all the main dances of corp de ballet, solos and pas de deux from the classical repertoire without any score – all the moves being from memory and experience, as I remember.

An inspiring teacher needing no recourse to any examinations.

“In 1957 or 58 my sister was in Carousel with the St Helens Amateurs. I was in the second violin stand orchestra pit at my first gig.”

Well, there is more to the film than you’d think. The music was played by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham.

Another of the dancers was Robert Dorning.

He was born in 1913 in St Helens, although where I don’t know. 

He was a British character actor, musician (saxophone, violin, vocal) and ballet dancer.

He studied drama and dance in Liverpool and appeared in musical comedy on the stage during the 1930s. After wartime service, acted in films and on television.

Three St Helens people in the credits of a major feature film. Is this the record?

Phil later added. “Did I relate the story of another friend of the Morrises, Chris Thorpe, also a friend of our family in Huyton, who worked at Harbens Mill in Golborne, where part of the Alec Guinness 50`s Pinewood classic The Man in the White Suit was filmed.

“I was born in Golborne, near Harbens, so I have a soft spot for the place. 

“My mum lived in Reginald Road in Sutton, but went to her mum and dad when I was due. I was soon back in Sutton, later living in Earlestown and returning to Sutton in 1977.”