Heritage readers have been inundating the Croydon Guardian's newsroom with their memories of the Orchid Ballroom since we published a story on the venue earlier this month.

From when it opened in 1950, dance nights, sporting events and rock concerts at the venue drew hundreds of party goers to Purley each week for more than 20 years.

Anne and Jack Hardy, from South Croydon, were in the Orchid's house band, The Jackpots, in the 1960s.

Anne said: "We were a four-piece group called The Jackpots - three boys and one girl.

"We came to the Orchid Ballroom from the Streatham Locarno in June 1963 and stayed until Jan 1964, playing four nights a week.

"The dcor gave a cold feel as it was rather grotto and cave-like, but the punters', as we called them, were friendly and warm.

"I am a Croydonian by birth but at the time of working at Purley and Streatham, lived in a caravan with my husband in the Brixton Road.

"When people ask me where I was when President Kennedy was shot, I say, playing at The Orchid Ballroom in Purley'. It was Friday night, November 22, 1963."

Ann Lovelace (nee Partridge), from Hartley Old Road in Purley recalls: "As a teenager in the fifties, I loved dancing and was a nifty jiver.

"My favourite visiting orchestra was the famous Ted Heath Band, with his regular singers Lita Rosa, Dennis Lotis and heatthrob Dickie Valentine.

"My home was in Banstead from which there was no direct public transport to Purley. Our means of travel for our big nights out to the Orchid was by bicycle. I have vivid memories of my wide skirt flapping against the wheels and my unsuitably high heeled shoes perching precariously on the pedals.

"The tops of my stockinged legs stung with the cold on winter nights. But it was all worth it. To go through the doors into the glamourous and sophisticated world of the ballroom was incredibly exciting.

"We girls would head straight for the cloakroom to deposit anoraks, touch up our make-up and preen ourselves before the glittering mirrors.

"For my 18th birthday my mother bought a wonderful reversible taffeta skirt - black on one side and bright green on the other. Two outfits in one was a real bonus, though I mostly wore the black side to the Orchid to look older and more sophisticated.

"When I began teacher training at college in Tooting I would travel by bus to the Orchid, bringing newly-made friends with me. Many of them came from rural parts of the country and trips to the Orchid were a revelation to them.

"Once we missed the last bus home, having been carried away by Dennis Lotus giving us the eye and agreeing to an extra encore. We had to spend our grant money on a shared taxi back and receive severe reprimands from worried landladies.

"Little did I think all those years ago I would end up spending all my adult life living and teaching a mere stone's throw from the magical mecca of my carefree youth. I often wonder if my hardness of hearing is attributable to the searing sounds of Don Lusher and Co's trumpets as we danced the nights away. Happy days!"

A former Croydon resident who now lives in Yorkshire added: "I met my husband there and we've been married for 39 years now. The Orchid is a place which will always be in my heart - I had many good nights there with the revolving bar.

"There were a few shops round the edge and, if I remember right, I still have the earrings my husband bought from there - yellow fluffy ones!"

Elizabeth Colclough said: "It was the place to go to meet friends old and new, weekday evenings and also at the weekend. We saw some great bands, some who are still going strong today.

"During 1968 my friend and I worked on the bars in the evenings to top up our wages from our office jobs so that we could have a holiday in Spain and we worked with some really nice people. I worked in the little bar upstairs, The Old Inn I believe it was called."