The Tin Mission

The mission as it was

and how it looks now

If you were "a teenager in love" in Workington the early sixties, the chances are that you met your beloved on a Saturday night at one of the "Tin Mission" dances.

You would have been let out to dance the night away (well from 7:30 to 10 at least!) at the "Tin Mish" as it was known.

The idea for the teenage dances at the Tin Mission came from James Fletcher, Ron Hill and Norman Brayton going to the popular Rosthwaite and Threlkeld dances in Ron's Morris 1000 van or Jimmy's Standard Ten and thinking "we can do this".

The Tin Mission is situated in Queen Street, Workington and is owned by the Workington Amateur Operatic Society who use it as their rehearsal hall.

The lads approached the society and asked if they could use the Misson for the dances.

Permission was granted, but only under two conditions - no alchohol and entrance by membership cards only.

Saturday afternoons were spent getting the hall ready for the evening dance.

Coats were taken at the door by Mabel Barnes and hands were stamped by Les Hill, Jack Fulder or Ken and Gwen Tweddle


The dances started off with The Defenders as the live band. At that time the Defenders vocalist and lead guitarist was Geoff Miller who played much of his own material such as "Night Vigil" and a 20 minute improvised guitar solo called "The Marathon" where the band tried to outlast the dancers.

For the interval, when the live group came off, there was a disco half hour using a Garrard deck with a 50 watt Linear Concord amplifier with two 12" Wharfdale speakers.

In the interval everyone dived for the pop stall to buy Brothwell and Mills yellow lemonade, Vimto or Dandelion and Burdock served by Rene Tolson.

An important factor in the success of the Tin Mish dances was the atmosphere and lighting effects which were created using four biscuit tins with red celluloid covers and oil lamps.

The dances used to attract over 300 members from all over West Cumberland.


The Defenders pictured in the Tin Mission

The Tin Mission dances ran from 1961 to 1964 and other local bands to perform there included the Electrons, The Meteors, The Renegades and Billy Steele and the Strollers.

There must be many married couples in the area who met at the Tin Mission. This is certainly true for two of the Defenders and one of the organisers of the dances who all met their wives there.

In 2005 the Tin Mission underwent a major refurbishment and in 2006 the Amateur Operatic Society celebrates it's centenary.

The photo below shows the Operatic Society company rehearsing in the Mission

The information for this page was kindly supplied by Ron Hill,
one of the founders of the Tin Mission dances.