Story: Marion Graham
The recent Royal Wedding was a very popular topic at the Firshill and Pitsmoor Local History Group meeting. It set off a discussion on weddings in the past, a subject we had covered before.
A chance for a ‘knees up’!
Weddings have always been great family occasions when people gathered to celebrate, true even in less prosperous times and in wartime – you can’t keep a good wedding party down! Traditional photographs of the bride and groom and their families give a very good image of the styles of the times – dresses, hats, flowers, etc. Our members have a nice collection of wedding photographs, taken from the 1920s through to the 1950s and 60s.
Register office wedding
One of the founder members was Annie Neal, who was born in Marcus Street and lived in Verdon Street before moving to the new Firshill estate in 1972. She is now 99 years old and in a nursing home but she still recalls her wedding in 1937 at the Register Office which was then in the Corn Exchange (where Victoria Quays is today).
Her wedding photo shows her wearing a double-breasted woollen coat and a buttonhole flower each for herself and her husband. Annie was carrying a pair of leather gloves!
My own first recollection was of about 7 years old. I was going to be a bridesmaid for my aunt. My dress was made and I was very excited – but I missed it because I was in hospital with diphtheria. In 1949/50, I was about 15 and invited to be bridesmaid at the wedding of some Jamaican friends.
The groom was a student at Sheffield University and he had been unable to find anywhere to stay until my grandmother took him in. Later he sent for his fiancée to come over from Jamaica so that they could be married here. The wedding was at St Patrick’s Church, Sheffield Lane Top and the reception at a house on Barnsley Road where I had my first taste of West Indian food. I really loved it.
Bride’s prerogative to be late!
When it came to mine and Milton’s wedding in 1955, we did have some complications. Although Milton arrived at St Leonard’s in plenty of time, myself and the bridesmaids were stuck at home as no car had arrived. Someone had to be despatched to the phone-box to contact the car-hire company.
However, Milton’s family and friends travelled over from Lancashire in a coach (called a “charabanc” in those days). They called at my home to get directions to the church, so the bridesmaids and my Mum hopped on the coach and went with them.
It all worked out in the end!
The car arrived but me and Dad got there 30 minutes late and the groom was feeling somewhat deserted. We had a photo taken on the steps of the Vestry Hall, where we had the reception. We had a lovely party with ham salad, trifle and wedding cake and then ballroom dance music from an old battered windup gramophone on the stage, with someone stepping up to change the record every few minutes. There was beer and lemonade to drink; we all had a really good time and we are still here 56 years later thinking it was worth all the hassle on the day!
For our group members, weddings nowadays in some elaborate or exotic location seem very far removed from our fairly simple wedding days. The cost of just one of them would probably exceed the cost of all ours put together. However, for us, our “big day” is still fondly recalled as exactly that and our best wishes go to everyone embarking on marriage – royal or otherwise.