Part Two of Julian Morgan née Bamfield’s memories.
Miss Hammond passed away in 1946 and I pined for my ballet classes. In 1948 we moved to Shrewsbury where ordinary dancing classes in the Raven Hotel ballroom were given by a visiting teacher from Chester. Then in 1951 (I think that is the right year) Mrs Hassall told my parents that she was thinking of starting a boarding establishment at 12 Liverpool Road in Chester. There was another pupil, Margaret Tompkins, who wanted to come – would I join her? So it was arranged that I attend the Queen’s School by day, attend ballet classes in the evenings and go home on Saturday till Sunday evening. Margaret and I lived happily together for our first year looked after by the caretaker, Greta; being cooked for but doing all our own washing and cleaning.
Mary Wood was boarding when I started and was training to do her Solo Seal. We were allowed to watch her classes and did so with awe and envy. Because she was a senior student we didn’t have much contact with her.
I remember Auntie Ham, (Miss Hammond’s Aunt, Alice Hammond, who also lived in Liverpool Rd) who was a delightful old lady. She used to give us licorice all sorts when we visited her room.
The following year [1952?] several more students joined us [at 12 Liverpool Rd] and there was a definite feeling of having our space invaded, especially in the airing cupboard where we hung our tights, leotards and socks to dry every night and for a hot bath. The third year all the bedrooms were full, there was a proper matron – Miss Dewar followed by Mrs Gill – but no more room in the airing cupboard or hot water. We took exams, competed in competitions in Liverpool, performed in Chester operatic productions, did classes in ballet, tap, modern and music appreciation from 5-6 every evening. Homework was fitted in somehow. We helped with Saturday morning classes and Saturday afternoon ballroom lessons in Upton Village Hall, which gave us a chance to see some boys! I was lucky enough to be taken out by a couple of cadets from Eton Hall some weekends which caused some serious questioning by Mrs Hassall. ‘Does you mother know about this?’ ‘Yes of course’ was the reply with my fingers crossed!
Romance was not on the cards for the students but we watched from the sidelines as Miss Frances (Barbara Frances) collected her daily letter from the post table and took turns to call Miss Dibb to the phone – which was in the dining room so easily answered and offered no privacy.With more pupils around at weekends Mrs Hassall arranged visits to their farm in the Wirral. If we were lucky there was a birth of piglets to be seen, hay stacks to jump from and acres of fields to enjoy. We helped cook lunch and really felt that it was a home from home.
In 1955 I left to attend the Royal Academy of Dancing Teachers Training Course at Fairfield Lodge in Kensington. Alison Forrester, a friend from The Hammond, came as well. Alison, and Francoise Syson a fellow student who later taught at the Hammond, have remained friends since then.
What have I done since then? I married a dashing diplomat and travelled overseas to China, Yugoslavia, South Africa, Sierra Leone and the Philippines. As well as attempting to learn Chinese and Serbo Croat I taught children of diplomatic colleagues but my real opportunity came in Manila. Their excellent ballet company for whom I had managed to raise considerable funds invited me to perform as the Wicked Stepmother in the Christmas production of Cinderella. No mean task at the age of 47. For 3 months I disappeared from diplomatic dinners and went back to class. But I did it and loved having the opportunity to dance again. Now I enjoy watching one of my grandsons performing in school dance productions.
Thank-you so much Julian!