Lyndon Wainwright

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Lyndon Bentley Wainwright (7 December 1919 – 2 January 2018) was a British metrologist, ballroom dancer and author. He worked at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) during World War II, and was a chairman of the British Engineering Metrology Association.

Metrology science of measurement and its application

Metrology is the science of measurement. It establishes a common understanding of units, crucial in linking human activities. Modern metrology has its roots in the French Revolution's political motivation to standardise units in France, when a length standard taken from a natural source was proposed. This led to the creation of the decimal-based metric system in 1795, establishing a set of standards for other types of measurements. Several other countries adopted the metric system between 1795 and 1875; to ensure conformity between the countries, the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures (BIPM) was established by the Metre Convention. This has evolved into the International System of Units (SI) as a result of a resolution at the 11th Conference Generale des Poids et Mesures (CGPM) in 1960.

National Physical Laboratory (United Kingdom) National Measurement Institution of the United Kingdom

The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) is the national measurement standards laboratory for the United Kingdom, based at Bushy Park in Teddington, London, England. It comes under the management of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.


After the war, he was a leading exhibition dancer, and one of a small group of experts who introduced Latin American dance to Britain. Wainwright wrote nine books on ballroom dancing. He received the Carl Alan Award for 1996–99, and other honours from the dance community. He was an expert on phonogram performance rights and was a member of the British Ring of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.

Performing rights are the right to perform music in public. It is part of copyright law and demands payment to the music's composer/lyricist and publisher. Public performance means that a musician or group who is not the copyright holder is performing a piece of music live, as opposed to the playback of a pre-recorded song. Performances are considered "public" if they take place in a public place and the audience is outside of a normal circle of friends and family, including concerts, nightclubs, restaurants etc. Public performance also includes broadcast and cable television, radio, and any other transmitted performance of a live song.

International Brotherhood of Magicians organization

International Brotherhood of Magicians (I.B.M.) is an organization for both professional and amateur close-up and stage magicians, with approximately 15,000 members worldwide. The headquarters is in St. Charles, Missouri, and there are over 300 local groups, called Rings, in more than 30 countries, largely concentrated in cities of the United States and Canada, though there are members of the international organization from at least 80 different countries. The organization publishes a monthly periodical entitled The Linking Ring, which features tricks, coverage of shows and events in the magic community, and interviews with magicians.

Personal life

Born in Scarborough, Yorkshire in 1919, Wainwright married three times: to Felicia Heslop (m. 1943-60; divorced); Isobel Scott (m. 1964–69; divorced), and Yvonne Gandy (m. 1973-2011; her death).

He had one son, Mark, from his second marriage and four grandchildren, Annabel, Connor, Ewan, and Brodie. He died in January 2018 at the age of 98. [1]


After his education and upbringing in Scarborough, Wainwright joined the NPL, the largest applied physics laboratory in the UK, in 1939. There he trained and worked as an engineering metrologist. From September 1939, this facility worked mainly in support of the war effort, and so employment there was to some extent a reserved occupation: key employees were not called up for military service if the employer made appropriate application to the War Office. In addition to their work, staff members were expected to join the NPL Fire Brigade as part-timers or the ARP (air-raid warning and fire watch).

A reserved occupation is an occupation considered important enough to a country that those serving in such occupations are exempt—in fact forbidden—from military service. In a total war, such as the Second World War, where most fit men of military age were conscripted into the armed forces, exceptions were given to those who performed jobs vital to the country and the war effort which could not be abandoned or performed by others. Not only were such people exempt from being conscripted, they were often prohibited from enlisting on their own initiative, and were required to remain in their posts. Examples of reserved occupations include medical practitioners and police officers, but what is or is not a reserved occupation will depend on war needs and a country's particular circumstances.

War Office department of the British Government responsible for the administration of the British Army

The War Office was a Department of the British Government responsible for the administration of the British Army between 1857 and 1964, when its functions were transferred to the Ministry of Defence. It was equivalent to the Admiralty, responsible for the Royal Navy, and the Air Ministry, which oversaw the Royal Air Force. The name "War Office" is also given to the former home of the department, the War Office building, located at the junction of Horse Guards Avenue and Whitehall in central London.

Later in life, when his active career as a dancer was over, Lyndon returned to metrology, working at the National Engineering Laboratory in East Kilbride, Scotland for four years, and then for seven years was head of quality control and metrology at PIRA, the Research Association for the Printing, Packaging and Paper Making Industries (formerly PATRA, the Printing Industry Research Association) in Leatherhead, Surrey. In this capacity he lectured in the UK and abroad, and sat on committees of the International Association of Research Organizations in the Printing Industries. Wainwright was chairman of the English Metrology Association from 1967 to 1972.

East Kilbride town in South Lanarkshire in Scotland

East Kilbride is the largest town in South Lanarkshire in Scotland and the 6th largest settlement in Scotland. It was also designated Scotland's first new town on 6 May 1947. The area lies on a raised plateau to the south of the Cathkin Braes, about 8 miles (13 km) southeast of Glasgow and close to the boundary with East Renfrewshire.

Career in dance

Wainwright met his first wife, Felicia (14 April 1920 – September 1993), in 1940, and they soon started to train as a ballroom dance couple. They married in 1943, the year they first gave a dance exhibition for payment. After taking coaching from Monsieur Pierre, they started to compete as a professional couple. In 1948 they won the Premier Prix in a World's Professional Eight Dance Ballroom championship, staged in Paris. [2]

The couple then specialised in the Latin dances and helped to introduce these dance forms to the British public. The partnership was billed as Lyndon & Felicia for their dance exhibitions, which were given in clubs, ballrooms, restaurants, celebrations and on television. On BBC tv, they appeared with the Edmundo Ros Orchestra, and Victor Silvester's BBC Dancing Club, dancing rumba, samba, paso doble and mambo. Between 1950 and 1960, the pair were probably the leading exhibition dancers of Latin American style in England. At their peak, they were presenting over 400 shows a year, often several times at different venues on a Sunday, and they also ran dance studios in Kingston, Ewell and Purley in Greater London. They were engaged to perform every alternate Dancers' Night for a year at the Hammersmith Palais. [3]

Reviews of the partnership

"The highlights of their career are their appearances as demonstrators at the first ever World Congress of Teachers of Dancing organised by the Official Board of Ballroom Dancing, their several appearances on television with Edmundo Ros and Victor Silvester, and their demonstrations in Switzerland, Holland, Éire, Ulster and Denmark…
"Lyndon and Felicia are now well on their way to their two thousandth demonstration… Within Great Britain they have travelled over 100,000 miles to give demonstrations… It is estimated that nearly one million people have seen these demonstrations personally, apart from those who have seen them on the television screen." [4]
"Together they broke box office records all over the country, in an era when England was producing the most beautiful dancers in the world." Kenneth Lee. [5]
"If ever a list is produced of the six best show business [acts] from the world of ballroom dancing in the past 50 years, it would not be complete without [them]." Walter Laird. [6]
"They must have been one of the top ranking and highest paid duos of that and many other eras." Bob More. [7]
"In the early 50s Lyndon & Felicia were well known for their wonderful cabaret – they didn't follow the normal trend – they studied all types of Latin American rhythms. Some that they danced, such as Blues, Mambo and the Mexican Jarabe, are quite new to many people today, but Lyndon and Felicia studied them, and presented every time a cabaret with a difference." Peggy Spencer. [8]

Later dance work

Many years later, the BBC invited Lyndon to take part in a television documentary Last Man at the Palais dealing with the history of the Hammersmith Palais. The Palais had opened in 1919 as a dance hall and entertainment venue, and finally closed in 2007. With a fellow professional, Lyndon danced a waltz, which was the last dance shown on the televised program, [9] first screened on BBC Four on Christmas Eve 2007. [10]

After his dance partnership and marriage ended in 1960, Wainwright devoted himself to teaching, writing and the administrative side of the dance world. He was Executive Councillor, Hon. Treasurer, and Company Secretary of the International Dance Teachers Association (IDTA). He served as a delegate to the British Dance Council and as founder and Hon Secretary of its Teachers' Committee, and on the Council for Dance Education and Training, and the Central Council of Physical Recreation. He was an acknowledged expert in the Performing and Phonographic Rights involved in playing music in public. For over 50 years he contributed articles to dance magazines such as Dance Teacher (now Dance International), Ballroom Dancing Times (now Dance Today), and Dance Expression. Wainwright also wrote articles for the Daily Mirror.

The dance profession has honoured Lyndon for his services to dance. In 1996 and 1999 he received the Carl Alan Award, in 1998 the Classique de Danse, in 2000 the President's Award of the Ballroom Dancers' Federation, and in 2005 the Distinguished Service Award of the IDTA.

Membership of dance organisations

Wainwright is or has been a member of these dance organisations:

Publications by Lyndon Wainwright


Engineering papers

Dance articles

Ballroom Dancing Times & Dance Today

1956. Recent recordings. BDT vol 1 November p89
1960. Televiewing. BDT 5 November p76
1961. The Juniors take their turn. BDT 5 May p416
1963. Your first competition. BDT 6 June p466
1963. Heel turn. BDT 7 October p27
1963. Nerves! BDT 7 November p69
1963. Footwork. BDT 7 December p140
1964. Leg action. BDT 7 January p194
1964. Smile, please! BDT 7 February p260
1964. Knees. BDT 7 March p306
1964. Tackling the Tango. BDT 7 April p366
1964. Tango atmosphere. BDT 7 May p415
1964. Steps outside. BDT 7 July p537
1964. A word for the Ladies. BDT 7 August p604
1965. Your first competition. BDT 8, September p650
1965. The new competitor? BDT 9 July p524
1966. A question of judgement. BDT 10 January p183
1966. Calculating the marks. BDT 10 February p218
1966. What would Market Research find? BDT 10 July 502
1966. Competitions. BDT 10 September 646
1966. The IDMA – DTA merger. BDT 11 11 October
1967. Dancing and social change. BDT 11 January p168
1967. The influence of Professionals. BDT 11 February p185
1967. Here to stay. BDT 11 March
1981. Lyndon on Latin. BDT 29, February
1986. It’s up to You. Dance Today 29 January p146
1986. Wasted opportunity. Dance Today 29 February p185
1986. Landmarks of memory. Dance Today 29 April p26
1986. Music and Dance. Dance Today 29 June p349
1992. Myself when young. Dance Today 36 October p28
1993. Liars, damn liars, and media critics. Dance Today 37 November

The Dance Teacher [11]

1967. Prudent housekeeping. DT vol 16 November p. 9
1969. The case for a House Style. DT 18 February p. 29
1970. All this and ulcers too. DT 19 February p. 30
1970. IDTA Congress 1970. DT 19 September p. 168
1970. Eight fingers two thumbs. DT 19 October p. 195
1970. The Association charges. DT 19 November p. 218
1970. Day to day transactions. DT 19 December p. 244
1971. Decimal Quiz. DT 20 February, p. 31
1980. The Gulbenkian Report. DT 30 November
1981. Latin or Disco. DT 30 January
1982. Beatrice Bunny’s Tale. DT 31 January (under non-de-plume Aesop Minimus)
1989. Youth dancing. DT 38 February, p. 47
1990. Community Charge. DT 39 May, p. 139
1990. Mystina. DT 39 November, p. 341
1991. Ballroom Teachers Committee I. DT 40 May, p. 154
1991. Ballroom Teachers Committee II. DT 40 June, p. 192
1991. Vocational qualifications. DT 40 December, p. 378
1992. Teachers’ Competition. DT 41 May 167
1992. Ballroom Teachers Committee. DT 41 September, p. 29
1993. NVQs: Where are they now? DT 42 May p. 177
1993. Writing an article. DT 42 August p. 253
1994. Dance goes around & around. DT 43 March, p. 97
1994. Dance Schools. DT 43 April p. 155
1994. Education can be fun. DT 43 May, p. 191
1994. Straws in the wind. DT 43 June, p. 257
1994. The Superdance League. DT 43 November, p. 461
1995. NVQs The story continues DT 44 July, p.321
1995. Eulogy to Guy Howard DT 44 August, p. 368
1996. The Taxman Cometh DT 45 May, p. 229
1996. National Insurance contributions DT 45 June, p. 277
1998. Aspects of teaching dance DT 47 March, p. 81
1999. Children in the School DT 48 January, p. 9
1999. Burn the floor DT 48 July, p. 273
2000. Reaching the public DT 49 December, p. 517
2001. The nature of dance DT 50 March, p. 95
2001. Chided DT 50 October, p. 429
  • 1981. Scarborough upbringing. The Dalesman, October, p. 542
  • 2002. The Youthscan Project: teenage attitudes to, and involvement in, dance. [12]

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<i>Dance International</i>

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  1. Tribute to Lyndon Wainwright, 1919–2018
  2. This was the third prize, after the Champion and Vice-champion. The event was organised by the Societé National de Professers de Danse (SNPD). These events do not have the status of the modern WDC events, but they were an opportunity for competitors to dance some Latin rhythms at a time when all the English competitive events were purely English ballroom dances.
  3. Olney, Walley. "Personalities of Dance: Lyndon Wainwright", Danscene, 21 September 1989.
  4. The Modern Dance and the Dancer. July 1953, pg. 29. They danced 1,500 miles in Demonstrations: tenth anniversary of successful Lyndon & Felicia partnership.
  5. Lee, Kenneth 1993. Dance Teacher November pg. 384.
  6. Laird, Walter 1993. Dance Teacher November pg. 384
  7. More, Bob 1993. Dance Teacher November pg. 385
  8. Spencer, Peggy 1993. Dance Teacher November pg. 385
  9. Weller, Richard (Spring 2009). "Project Palais" (PDF). Hammersmith and Fulham Historic Buildings Group Newsletter. No. 20. p. 7. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  10. "Last Man in Hammersmith Palais". BBC Four (TV channel). 2007. Archived from the original on 6 September 2014.
  11. Journal of the International Dance Teachers Association.
  12. Young people dancing: an international perspective. Dance and the Child International Conference, London 1988.