Chesters hoping for picture perfect 80th

Chesters Dancing Academy back in 1997.
Chesters Dancing Academy back in 1997.

A well-known Fleetwood dance school celebrates its 80th anniversary this year.

And Christine Cheeseman, principal of Chesters Dancing Academy, is hoping former members can help make the celebrations extra special.

When Chesters stages its latest dance spectacular at Thornton Little Theatre on May 8 and 9, Christine hopes to have a montage of vintage photographs and programmes of the dance school on display.

She said: “We do not seem to have a great many photographs of the earlier decades and we would love to have some on display. We are hoping former members can let us borrow some we can copy.

“It is an important landmark for us, and we want to make the most of it. We will make sure the pictures are all safely returned.”

Chesters has helped train more than 1,000 young dancers since it was founded eight decades ago.

It was established by dancer and pantomime performer Chic Chester in 1935, and its first panto, Red Riding Hood, was staged at the Marine Hall in January 1936.

Chic’s husband, Fred Nielson, was producer, with Chic playing the Principal boy and the couple’s daughter, under the stage name Hazel Doreen, playing the Principal Girl.

At first, the school was based at the former Imperial Cafe on Queens Terrace, and moved to the Apex Building on Kent Street. It is currently based in premises on Victoria Street, Fleetwood.

Chic died in 1937 and was succeeded by daughter Hazel (Nielson) who ran the dance school for more than 50 years, until she retired in 1989.

She died two years later.

Since 1989, Christine has kept the fine tradition going, having first joined in 1974.

Christine, 68, of Saer Close, added: “We would love to have photos from each decade, to present a pictorial record.”

Post pictures to 12 Saer Close, Fleetwood (including return address details), or email chestersdancingacademy@gmail.com.