Hamilton Kaye Collection

Scope and Content

This collection contains programmes, handbills photographs and a digital copy of Hamilton Kaye's notebook which contained jokes and stories that Kaye kept for using in his act.

Administrative / Biographical History

Born Ronald Kaye on 20 May 1921, he was known as Hamilton Kaye for magic shows and for his magic business. At various times he was known as Hamilton Kaye, Wizard Kaye, Ron Dalmo, and briefly as Milton Kaye.

Ron Kaye was born in Sheffield, at Rock Street, Pitsmoor. His parents were both teachers, his father later became head teacher of Hillsborough School. His family moved to Crosspool in the early 1930s, buying a newly built semi-detached house for £550. Ron became a pupil at the newly opened High Storrs School.

At the age of 4 Ron was taken to see a variety show at the Sheffield Hippodrome. He was startled when 'The Great Carmo' appeared in a flash and ran back up the aisle shouting 'I'm going home'. Despite this early setback he fell in love with the theatre, music hall, and with magic especially. He began performing magic to family and friends, and at Church socials, garden parties etc. He produced plays and organised New Year Dances at Ranmoor Church Hall. During the early years of the war he was a member of the 'Steel City Stars', a group of semi-professional entertainers that performed variety shows in many local venues including Sheffield City Hall

Later in the war he served in the RAF and was posted to India and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) where he was a member of ground crew servicing flying boats and bombers. During this time he took part in, and produced concert parties for fellow servicemen.

On his return home he worked first in the laboratories at Sheffield University, then for the Sheffield Corporation Water Department, later the Yorkshire Water Authority. He was introduced to his future wife Marion, a nursery nurse, by his cousin Molly. He and Marion were married in 1953 and with their two children the family moved to Dronfield in 1960 where Marion ran a nursery school for many years.

Ron had a lifelong passion for magic and increasingly built a reputation in the local area as a conjuror and children's entertainer. He was a voracious collector of anything magical and also ran a magic business supplying tricks and his specialty flash paper and string. He was able to concentrate even more on magic when he took early retirement from the Water Authority. In 1982/3 he was proud to serve as President of the British Ring of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.

He lived a full and active life and despite the effects of increasing age, was able to attend magic events until only a few months before his death, aged 85, on Christmas Day 2006.

Peter Kaye (son)

October 2008

Access Information

Items are available to view via appointment in the NFA reading room.

Acquisition Information

Donated by his wife, Marion Kaye

Other Finding Aids

Finding aid available in the NFA reading room

Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Jane Donaldson

Related Material

Collections of his photographs and memorabilia are held at both the National Fairground Archive, University of Sheffield and Sheffield Local Studies Library, Sheffield City Libraries.


Personal Names