March 11, 2015 at 2:25 pm #301
This Page is dedicated to The Tiller family. For those of you old enough to remember the television show from the London Palladium you will know the name and the great dancers.
John Tiller (my great grandfather) founded the dancers in 1886 as The Four Sunbeams. See “The John Tiller pages” From this was founded The Tiller School of Dancing and The Tiller Girl troupes.
John Tiller and his wife “my great-grandmother Mary Tiller (née Carr)” originally formed the group for a show at the old Pavilion Theatre, Blackpool in the 1890’s. Mary died in 1905.
John married again 20 months later to Jenny who became very much involved in the running of the troupes. The Tiller’s became famous throughout the world performing as resident dancers at the Folies Bergere in Paris, The London Palladium, The Palace Theatre, London as the Palace Girls and Blackpool Winter Gardens as well as hundreds of theatre’s across the British Isles, The Continent and the United States.
Elizabeth Tiller, my lovely grandmother, was a very early Tiller Girl. I remember her for her presence and charm. Even in her 80’s she still waited for everyone to gather to make her grand entrance. As a Tiller Girl it was frowned upon to have a relationship. John Tiller was particularly worried that two of his son’s John Lawrence Tiller and Robert Tiller my grandfather, were showing and interest in Elizabeth. It is said that she was first linked to Lawrence but in the end she married Robert Tiller.
When she retired from dancing she continued to work with The Tiller Schools looking after the girls and making the costumes. She was a very accomplished seamstress and used to make items for the family in her old age.
When I was 7 years old in 1960, The Tiller family attended a performance at the Victoria Palace to celebrate her 80th birthday . The show Young in Heart featured the Crazy Gang. I can remember the cast including The Tiller Girls coming back on stage at the end of the show to wish her happy birthday and throwing flowers to our box. We now have another Elizabeth Tiller as my brother has named his daughter after her.
The Tiller Girls are probably the longest established dance company of all time and Tiller Girls are always very proud to say they danced as a Tiller Girl. On this site you will find information and photos from the very first dancers to the new School.
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