Ballroom Manager Lionel Stewart

Lionel Stewart was my dad and I was delighted to find references to him and the Regent Ballroom on this truly great site.  I have lived in Oregon on the west coast of the United States for over 30 years but came home for a visit to Brighton this Summer.  I stayed with my good friends Peter and Sandy Crowhurst in the North Laine who are involved with this and other local web sites.

Born in Poland in 1893
Lionel Stewart was born in 1893 in Poland and moved to England with his family as a young child. He spent his formative years in London and became a competitive ballroom dancer with his sister Anne. During the 1920s and 1930s, they were frequently seen gliding across the floors of the Hammersmith Palais in London, before it was bombed during the war.

Died in in Brighton in 1970
Lionel moved to Brighton and was manager of The Regent Ballroom for 32 years before he retired in 1955.  As a child my parents and I lived at the Seven Dials area and then on Western Road where dad died in 1970. He was 60 when I was born so my memories of the Regent are quite distant, but I remember loving the attention given to me when my dad took me to visit as a small child.  His trademarks were a cigar and his ever present contagious smile.  He was known for his generosity and kindness and played to cupid to many dancers who frequented The Regent Ballroom.

A very popular personality
I still have dozens of letters sent to him during the war from troops overseas and it was easy to see he was adored by Brightonians of all ages.  If anyone recognizes any of the personalities in the photos I would love to know who they are.  Please contact me via email if you have more information about my dear old dad to

Comments about this page

  • Hello. Does anyone have a photo they can put on here of Johnny Wollaston, and tell me what year he was born?And does anyone know which liner he joined as a band leader? I did read that he died about 5 years ago but sadly I can’t trace him in the births, deaths and marriages. I did try to trace him on the Isle of Man a few years ago, but again sadly I had missed him by a couple of years. It might be possible that I am – or should I say was – related to him. Thank you.

    By Malcolm Wollaston (15/06/2012)
  • My Dad’s cousin is a Woollaston and there have been a few comments from my dad and his cousin (David Pearce) and Michael (?) Woollaston. I will tell my Dad to check the details and maybe contact you/post a reply here!

    By Claire Townsend (18/06/2012)
  • Oopps it’s Wollaston, sorry misspelt! My dad (David Pearce) is actually Johnny Wollaston’s nephew, not cousin. I know he ended up in West Witterings, Sussex. If you type Syd Dean or Wollaston in the search box at the top of the home page, you will find a lot of info about him and his son, my Dad’s cousin Michael. Good Luck!

    By Claire Townsend (18/06/2012)
  •  I’m so glad I found this site. Keep up the good work- I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say great blog. Thanks, a definite great read.

    By Marff (04/07/2012)
  • To Malcolm Wollaston and to Claire Townsend – hi. Firstly to Claire (2nd cousin?) – thanks for adding info to this page, and apologies for being slow finding this thread, and thanks to David for alerting me to it. Hi Malcolm. As one of Johnny’s sons, I’m obviously intrigued 🙂 I can tell you that Johnny did a couple of trips on the Canberra. If you’d like photos etc, or to exchange info (I hope you do) please get in touch. I’m not sure we’re allowed to put email addresses on this site, but you’ll find me on LinkedIn or Facebook – making sure you’re speaking to the Edinburgh Michael Wollaston! Cheers

    By Michael Wollaston (02/12/2012)
  • Dear Sarah,  I think it is your Birthday today,  if memory serves me well Sunday, the 12th October! Well a ” Very Happy Birthday ” to you. How is your memory ? This is Caroline 
    (Vigor)  from number 35 Montpelier Crescent.  Pauline (my mother, who sadly died last year) was friends with Lionel and Betty – your father and mother.  I went on to good old Google and here I am !  Lovely, lovely photos of your father with his faithful cigar.  And what about your brother Chrisopher ?   So so much to chat about.  I remember your beautiful Persian Cat named “Jimmy”, and do your remember ” Piglet” my VERY first guinea pig that came via Auntie Jean and her son ‘Googie’  !!  Photographs in your front garden and on the Green in our tutu’s. Many more wonderful happy memories. I do hope this is the right email address for you. It would be great to be in touch with you again.  Have a wonderful Birthday.  Lots of love,  Caroline Vigor (now Collins).

    By Caroline Vigor (now Collins) (13/10/2014)
  • Wow! Just browsing and what do I see? The good old Regent dance hall and Lionel. What memories my sister and I have of them both, I met my husband there and I now live in California. I shall tell my sister who lives in Shropshire… fantastic!

    By Joyce (Joy) Reed RE Taylor (31/07/2016)
  • My family believes our mother was a singer at the Regent Ballroom in the mid to late-1940s. She was then Joyce Forgham. One of her five children is Steve Harley, the Cockney Rebel rock star. Any readers have any recollections of Joyce?

    By Stephen Malcolm (27/10/2019)

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