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Sir Jimmy Savile’s tenure as Ilford dance hall manager remembered

08:47 02 November 2011

Sir Jimmy Savile pictured after he received a commemorative badge from prime minister Gordon Brown at Downing Street in 2008

Sir Jimmy Savile pictured after he received a commemorative badge from prime minister Gordon Brown at Downing Street in 2008

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Legendary DJ and television presenter Sir Jimmy Savile, who died aged 84 on Saturday, once entertained revellers at a famous Ilford dance hall.

Sir Jimmy had a stint as manager of Ilford Palais in High Road in 1959 and ran records-only dance sessions on Monday nights which were said to be popular with teenagers.

Sir Jimmy, who went on to present the first episode Top of the Pops, was interviewed by the Recorder about his time spent in the borough in 1966 and a photograph accompanying the article showed him wearing a two tone coat.

It was taken by retired freelance photographer Clive Simpson, formerly of Kenwood Gardens, Gants Hill, who met the star at his BBC studio.

Recalling how the shot was set up Mr Simpson said: “At the time Jimmy had a two tone head with one side black and the other side white.

“There was a guy in Barking who started manufacturing leather coats and he made a couple with two tones which were exactly the same colour as his hair.

“He contacted Jimmy and said he would give him a coat for free in return for some publicity pictures which he agreed to.”

Mr Simpson added: “Jimmy was a really nice guy and we sat and chatted after the pictures.

“It wasn’t a case of two minutes get in and get out.

“He was a shrewd character and did a brilliant job raising money charity but also had an eye for the business side of things.”

In the article Sir Jimmy was quoted saying: “Some of the happiest days of my life were spent in Ilford.”

And he also raised a smile by giving some amusing response to questions.

When asked how he got to Ilford he answered: “I came out of my front door and turned left and it was about 186 miles from there because I lived in Leeds.”

When asked how long he was at the Palais for he replied: “About five feet ten inches.”

His funeral will be held on Wednesday at St Anne’s Catholic Cathedral in Leeds with thousands expected to pay their last respects.

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