The House of Hammer was founded in the 1930s by Enrique Carreras and William Hinds (William Hammer to his audience).
At the heart of Bray Studios in Berkshire, stood a 17th Century mansion with resident ghost, the Blue Lady, wafting through the house.
It was a perfect marriage when Carreras and Hind purchased the mansion in 1949. Their fortunes took off after acquiring the rights to TV’s The Quatermass Experiment, and in 1957 they released The Curse of Frankenstein, a camp shocker with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, followed by Dracula (1958).
By 1960 there was no stopping them.
Producing eight features a year, Hammer was the most consistently profitable film company of the time, with films like The Mummy (1959), The Curse Of The Werewolf (1961) and The Damned (1963) which combined motorcycle gangs with radioactive children in Weymouth!
Directors like Terence Fisher and Roy Ward Baker churned out suburban vampire thriller after bourgeois Satanist shocker, and the public couldn’t get enough of it.
Hammer turned a profit by using a stable of cast and crew, including Ingrid Pitt, on call whenever they needed a sexy female vampire to suck blood and fall out of her negligee.
Hammer moved from Bray in 1966 and the studio continued to do business under a number of landlords.
Although it’s not entirely correct to say that the critical reputation of the Hammer studio was always low, it’s true that until the 1970s, very few people took them seriously.
Hits like Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971) and The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) were made there, but the glory days of bloodsucking aristocrats and vampire virgin killers are unlikely to ever be matched.