If has often been thought that The Hammond’s first residential school was at 12 Liverpool Rd in the early 1950s – however this was not the case. Miss Hammond officially took over the school in the autumn of 1919 and the following year rented 62 Watergate St – the first residence for vocational dance students.
Vocational dance student Win Buck recalled the following in 1966: “October, 1920, was the commencement of The Hammond School of Dancing for students, when Gwyneth Carr Hughes, Joan Kay and I (Win Buck) started as “Student Boarders” at 62, Watergate Street. Miss Hammond had rented the house, furnished, from Mrs. Blayney-Jones, and lived at “62” with her Aunt, Miss Wright, as housekeeper. The studio was the front first floor room. We daily went to Mrs. Lingard’s school for lessons, but more frequently stayed at “62” for ballet lessons! This arrangement at “62” lasted one year, when the Blayney-Jones’s returned and took the students over, and we were very well cared for by Mrs. Blayney-Jones, Miss Lottie and Miss Maggie. The studio was moved to the top floor at the Nag’s Head for a few years, and then to Bridge Street”.
The school was advertised as being based at 62 Watergate Street from December 1920 till the end of 1924.
Miss Hammond’s Vocational Dance Students, early 1920s (including Win Buck and a very young Betty Hassall)— possibly at 62 Watergate St.
- Top row (left to right): Betty Shaw, Greta Buck, Marjorie Eason, Moya Kennedy, Gweneth ?, Dolly Pulvermacher.
- Middle row: Dorothy Williams, Win Buck, Vivien Pritchard, Betty Armstrong, Gwen Bruce, Marie Small, Betty Hassall.
- Bottom row: Betty Morris, Nora MacKellar.
Dorothy Williams was a students of Miss Hammond’s in the 1920s and early 1930s.
In 1932 Dorothy came 2nd for her character solo at The All England Stage Dancing Competition, judged by Madame Karsavina. In 1933 she came 3rd judged by Miss Grace Cone and Ninette de Valois. Fellow Hammond student and ‘Ham’s’ goddaughter, Joan Lashmore, came 1st. Dorothy’s medals for these competitions were found last year in an old filing cabinet at the school!
In 1939 The Chester Chronicle reported ‘Miss Williams is well-known in Chester. She trained for the stage at the Irene Hammond School of Dancing, where she taught for some time. She left Chester to go on the stage as a ballet dancer, and successfully toured in one or two musicals comedies.’ Dorothy married Harold J Woods in 1939.