Dances at Ham Hall – by KM

The large building which is now a youth club, I believe, on Ham Close – that started out just called Ham Hall. That was a hall for the use of the community in general. It wasn’t particularly just a youth club. It was quite a nice place when it started. It had a staging area. There was local guy, I guess he would have been in his twenties or so, from Petersham, a person called Geoff Ware, he and his friend used to run dances there on weekend. He used to hire bands. There were some really, really good dances there. I do remember seeing one particular one that is stuck in my memory – a great big band and they specialised in Motown music that was my favourite at the time. The group were called the Way-In Show. They had some really good dances on.

Unfortunately, I’ve got to be honest; Ham, being what it is, did have a few rough lads and unfortunately the odd fight would start up, particularly if people from outside the area – boys and lads came from outside the area – there would be this silly rivalry between a few so the few that ruined it for the many, unfortunately. So they came to an end. Ham Hall was used as a wedding venue – quite a good wedding venue – or could be hired out if someone had a party or a 21st or whatever. It had a bar area. But then I think, generally the general youth waned somewhat and it then became the Ham Youth Club it is now.

A bit later on when I was late teens, approaching 17/18, I would go off to places in Richmond. There was a big dance hall place called the Castle in Richmond and that’s where I used to go. Unfortunately there was trouble there but I was more interested in the girls than the fighting.