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Gwen Rogers' Musical Dolls

This page concerns appearances at Sherry’s, Brighton in the 1920s/1930s by Gwen Rogers’ Musical Dolls. They were also known under other titles such as as Gwen Rogers’ Romany Players, Gwen Rogers’ Quartet, Gwen Rogers Trio, The Romany Players.

Can anyone remember or does anyone have any further information of any kind re these women, trailblazers like Ivy Benson Band for women performers?

If you can help at all, please leave comment below.

Gwen Rogers Musical Dolls
From the private collection of John Rogers
Gwen Rogers Musical Dolls
From the private collection of John Rogers

Comments about this page

  • I loved this page. I have just listed an enamel badge which is in the form of Gwen Rogers of the Romany Players on ebay and during my limited research I came across this page, so I have put a link to it in my ebay auction so that whoever buys it can see a little of its history. Thank you for sharing your information. Kind regards.

    By Helen Roberts (02/09/2012)
  • I’m interested in the enamel badge re Gwen Rogers and how you came by it, and any other information you have?

    By John Rogers (26/11/2012)
  • I love this picture, and I love the Ivy Benson Band and The Schuster sisters. We need more girl bands.

    By Tim Stothert (14/12/2012)
  • One of the drummers for this group was Miss Joan Donaldson. She was a native of South Africa who moved to Ireland, then England, later moving to Glasgow. A Premier endorser, Donaldson also played with Hilda Ward’s Syncopators, Miss Allan’s Ladies’ Orchestra, and others.

    By Rob Cook (11/01/2013)
  • I remember Gwen Rogers very well. My Grandmother looked after her when she was very elderly in the 1970s. She was living in Heathfield Gardens, Chiswick, London at this stage. During the summer holidays I would go with her and play in the garden (I was a very small child then). I have a large collection of photographs from when she was in the band in the 20s and 30s and from later in life.

    By Tom Nolan (18/01/2013)
  • My mother Stella Utin was the pianist in this band.

    By elaine efron (08/04/2013)
  • Hello Tom Nolan

    I am the creator of this page. I have been looking for years for information about the ‘girls’ in  the various bands. I believe Gwen Agnes and Edna Rogers were the children of relatives of mine from Pembroke Dock. I would welcome any more information and photographs of them and the various groups they were in. I believe one of them, possibly Edna, married a band leader who composed some of the music for the Dam Busters film soundtrack. Do you have an e-mail I can use to talk to you further. Alternatively my e-mail is I am also on facebook and you can personal message me. I am John Rogers in Canberra, Australia.

    By John Rogers (13/11/2013)
  • Updating the above: Gwen, Agnes and Edna were the children of a James George Rogers, a naval warrant officer on the HMS Hibernia, and his wife Sarah Anne (from Devon originally) I believe. Agnes married an Edwin Pennington. Gwen, Agnes and Edna all resided at Heathfield Gardens, Chiswick for some years. Gwen passed away in about 1970. As above Edna married bandleader Leighton Lucas. 

    By John Rogers (08/12/2013)
  • Correction to the above: Agnes Rogers married Cecil E Watts, pioneer of audio disc recording.

    By John Rogers (24/05/2014)
  • Hello John. I nursed Gwen Rogers when she lived in Heathfield Gardens, Chiswick – we called in twice daily. She was a very interesting lady with a very quick wit – always keeping us on our toes. She was still alive when I left district nursing and moved to Surrey in 1977. I can’t remember exactly how old she was then. Am wondering who Mr. Nolan’s grandmother is?

    By Kathryn Sharp (06/10/2014)
  • The Gwen Rogers Musical Dolls are mentioned and excerpts of two of their recordings are played in this BBC Radio Four program “Lost Women of British Jazz” broadcast in September 2014. See

    By John Rogers (25/10/2014)
  • My grandmother was very good friends with Edna and Leighton. My grandmother lived at No.17 Heathfield Gardens and I used to go with her to see Edna and Leighton at No.25. Edna was bedridden, very frail, and Gwen lived downstairs, also bedridden and suffering from severe arthritis. The house was amazing with a monkey puzzle tree (or two) in the front garden of the double-fronted house. Leighton was a friend of Ivor Novello and worked with Novello on ‘We’ll Gather Lilacs”, which he used to play to us on the grand piano. I have Edna’s father’s bookcase. I have some photos somewhere. The year was about 1982 – Gwen died some years before – the nurse is probably right – ’77 sounds about right. I am 54. We sold the house in 1993. Leighton was a composer and was with Ballet Russe. He had a very illustrious career.
    I remember an antiques dealer in Kew, Andrew Davies, and a poster of the Gwen Roger’s Orchestra. I knew him but I don’t know how he came by the poster. It was a long thin 20s one. The interior of the house in Chiswick hadn’t changed since the 20s/30s: black, green and wood. I have Edna’s wardrobe too! Gwen stayed in her dark room downstairs which smelt of Vicks. She didn’t air the room and had nurses in a lot. She was really cross about her condition, but my grandmother made me and my sister go in and say hello. It was wonderful to hear Leighton playing the piano resounding around the huge house.

    By Mandy Lane (11/02/2016)
  • Thanks for that Mandy. Good to hear more about Gwen and her sisters. 

    By John Rogers (19/06/2016)
  • I have a poster of Gwen Rogers who was a friend of my Great Aunt, Grace Glass who lived in Chiswick (not sure about when but is probably well before WW2). Poster is Royal Opera House Dances, Covent Garden, The Gwen Rogers Romany Players under the direction of Agnes Rogers. You can have an image if you want one.

    By A Bullen (29/10/2016)
  • Thanks A. Bullen – yes I would be interested in a copy of the poster image. Thank you.

    By John Rogers (18/01/2017)
  • Hello A. Bullen. Do you still have an image of Gwen Rogers. I do not recall receiving one as you offered October 2016.


    By John Rogers (15/07/2017)
  • I recently came across some sheet music for a song called ‘Minnetonka’ played with “great success by Gwen Rogers and her musical dolls”.

    By Matt (01/08/2017)
  • I would be interested in the sheet music. Do you know if Gwen and her group recorded it? Please contact me.

    By John Rogers (09/09/2017)
  • Can anyone remember ‘I’m wondering if it’s you’, written and composed by Billy W Dennington and recorded by Robey and Miles Columbia records

    By Philip Dennington (13/01/2020)
  • I have just read the message posted by Katheryn Sharp in October 2014.

    My grandmother was Margaret Borrett and she was a carer who took care of Gwen Rogers 3 or 4 mornings each week.My grandmother in those days lived on Heathfield Terrace (just around the corner behind Watchfield Court) so Heathfield Gardens was less than 5 mins walk away.Maybe you will remember her? Unfortunately she died in 2000 aged 89.

    You will probably remember Dr Doreen Stracey who was the doctor (GP) for Gwen Rogers. Dr Stracey lived at Watchfield Court and had a practice on Sutton Lane North (Chiswick) and was a close friend and frequent travel companion with Gwen Rogers on exotic cruises. My grandmother worked for Gwen Rogers in the mornings and was a cleaner at Dr Stracey’s surgery in the afternoons.

    I remember the house being very big, very dark and frightening! I also remember Leighton Lucas playing the piano and the monkey puzzle tree in the front garden. The tree has long gone!

    By Tom Nolan (14/05/2020)
  • Hi can anyone help – Edith Helen McDaniel was a pianist, and also played sax and fiddle we think she played at one time for Gwen Rodgers. Her husband Robin Campion claims he met her when she was playing in an exhibition in the 1920s and the couple married in 1929.
    any help appreciated
    Thanks, Linda.

    By Linda Smith (10/01/2022)
  • Hello, I am searching for some people who I believe worked at Sherry`s from 1919 to 1927ish. If anyone recognizes these names please contact me.
    “Teacher of dancing and photographer” Joshua Myers Yeadon, Doris Ivy Wilson “Dance Hostess” or a Frances Yeadon aka “Stella”.

    By Eileen Sheila (17/03/2022)
  • I see the nightclub, reports local press, on former site of Sherry’s Dance Hall, was demolished last year (2021) to make way for a new hotel.

    By John Rogers (27/07/2022)
  • I remember Sherrys very well and the go go dancer’s.
    One called Angie was always losing her top which got a good response from the guys.
    There was a bubble machine which one night ran out of liquid so my mate Colin went out to his hairdresser supplies van and sold the DJ Kenny a bottle of shampoo to put in the machine
    Oh Oh dear. The machine worked brilliantly but the bubbles didn’t evaporate so the go go dancer’s started to slip over plus people on the dance floor.
    It ended up blocking off half the floor.

    By Richard Pearce (30/08/2022)

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