Vera Garbutt (1904-1964)

posted in: Archives, History, Paul Jordan | 5

Vera Garbutt – dancing teacher

Vera Garbutt, 1936
Vera Garbutt, 1936

Born in Brighton in 1904, Vera established the Vera Garbutt School of Dancing when she was only 16.  In June 1925 she married Alfred Evershed, whose father ran a grocery store in St.George’s Road.  Her bridesmaids were four of her dancing pupils dressed in Victorian costume.

The Brighton Herald’s report of the wedding stated she ‘has been responsible for many varied entertainments in Brighton and Hove in the cause of charity. She is as popular as she is artistically gifted’.

She initially opened her dancing school at St. Augustine’s Hall, Stanford Avenue, but by 1928 was also providing dancing classes at St. Thomas’ Crypt, Davigdor Road, and 58 Marine Parade.

She appeared in many entertainments, particularly in the 1930s.  One of her performances was in the production of the ‘Desert Song’ at the Theatre Royal when she played the part of ‘Azuri’, a Moroccan dancing girl.

The Brighton Standard featured her in 1951. The article described how she had produced entire big-scale musicals for various amateur operatic societies and, during October 1951, she was arranging dance performances at Portsmouth and a show at Worthing whilst rehearsing for another in Tunbridge Wells. The Standard summed up her achievements:

‘Up and down the country the name of Vera Garbutt is known as an indication of first class dancing troupes’.

Vera herself felt her success as a children’s dancing teacher was due to ‘getting their affection …you can’t teach them unless you show some feeling’.

Ultimately, it would seem, the pressure of work became too much for her and, following a nervous breakdown in 1963, she took her own life the following year.

Paul Jordan, Senior History Centre Officer

5 Responses


    It is lovely to see this article on Vera Garbutt – as one of her old pupils I know how much I looked up to her.

    I have posted a picture I have of her taken in the late 1950’s,+ pictures of some of the posters she used to advertise her performances at the Dome on the Brighton and Hove website

  2. Val Myers

    I used to be Valerie Silsby and was a pupil of Vera’s from 1948 to 1963. We started at the hall at the Crown and Anchor and then we moved to Knolls Hall in Knolls road.
    I am trying to remember a Sue and for the love of me I can’t. My good friend Sandra Howell (then) was here recently and she couldn’t recall a Sue either.
    Send me a line if you would like to.


  3. James Feest

    I remember Vera working with Harry Drury to produce Amateur musical shows for Worthing Musical Comedy Society in the late ’40s & ‘ 59s
    AND very successful they were

  4. Maurice Powell

    Hi. Does anyone remember a young singer from the Isle of Man named Elsie Jackson? She was a soprano who studied dance with Vera Garbutt in 1948 and appeared in a number of pantos and other shows in the South of England. I am interested in following the careers of many Manx singers and entertainers from the 1940-60s.

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