This photograph from the 1890s is of one of the earliest troupes of Tiller Girls. John Tiller first started a dance troupe in Manchester in 1890. The Four Sunbeams were four ten year old little girls, and from this small beginning at the King's Theatre grew one of the most professional chorus and dance ensembles in this country. John Tiller started out as a successful cotton merchant but when he fell on hard times, he decided to try to make a living in the theatre, his great passion. He noticed that the chorus, however beautiful, often spoiled the effect of its numbers through lack of discipline. John Tiller and his wife Jenny opened a residential school which trained girls to dance with the precision of a corps de ballet. By the turn of the century all the major musical comedy managers were employing 'Tiller Girls', and his pupils worked everywhere from Paris to New York.