Nostalgia with Margaret Watson: A sense of occasion

HAPPY COUPLES This picture of a double wedding found its way into a large collection of photographs shared with us which have never been reclaimed by their owners.
HAPPY COUPLES This picture of a double wedding found its way into a large collection of photographs shared with us which have never been reclaimed by their owners.

Sometimes I find a photograph among the many which have been left unclaimed at the Reporter Office, and it immediately tugs at the heart strings, even though I don’t know a single soul on it.

Like the one above which I show today in the hope that it will do the same for our readers, because pictures like this say so much about the way we used to live.

When I first picked it up, it looked so familiar, and the people photographed could well have been people I grew up with, old neighbours perhaps.

I don’t recognise anyone, but just looking at it seemed to re-awaken something in me, perhaps it was memories of family weddings I attended as a child.

Weddings, I recall, used to be great comings together, and there didn’t seem to be any strangers there because usually the families being united were often known to each other.

Photographs like these also reminds us of how we used to dress in those days, because we nearly all dressed alike and bought our outfits from the same shops.

The clothes on this photograph are simple and uncluttered. They were clothes we wore, not so much as to turn heads, as to look smart and presentable. Being presentable was the key word in our house.

There seems to be no pretence about these people photographed, no showing off, no-one trying to be other than what they are, even though they were all dressed to the nines.

The brides looked lovely, and their massive bouquets were what one would expect in those days, but there was no big white limousine waiting to whisk them off to the start of a honeymoon in Barbados. Blackpool would have been good enough I’m sure.

These photographs remind us so much of what life used to be like, how we lived and the way we celebrated important occasions.

This one shows a double wedding, and although I don’t know who the picture belongs to, it somehow found its way into a large collection of photographs which have never been re-claimed by their owners.

The actual photograph (enlarged for today) measures only a couple of inches, and how the photographer managed to get them all into such a small space I’ll never know.

It was obviously taken with one of those old brownie cameras, which is why it looks as good today as it would have 60 years ago. No digital cameras in those days.

The two brides pictured would probably have been sisters because double weddings were popular in those days, especially in large families.

Two of my older sisters, Doreen and Winnie, had a double wedding, and it was a big relief to my mother, a widow, to marry off two of her daughters in one go.

It meant, of course, just one reception, one set of bridesmaids, one lot of flowers, and one outfit for everyone concerned.

This was in the days when the parents of the bride usually paid all the expenses of a wedding, and the bridegroom just paid for the flowers and the taxi to church.

What I particularly like about this photograph is being able to see how fashions have changed – for children as well as adults.

Notice the two little boys, who were probably the ushers, in their short trousers, knee length socks, and shiny shoes. We don’t see many young boys in short trousers today, do we?

The women are wearing what we used to call “costumes”, which were a combination of skirts and jackets made in the same material and colour.

Sometimes my mother would refer to hers as a “two piece suit”, which made it sound a little grander.

Men usually wore their best suit for a wedding – no top hats and morning dress for working men in those days.

But times change, and many bridegrooms now, from which ever background, find it cheaper to hire a morning suit for the day than buy a new suit which they’ll probably never wear again.

Although I have no idea to whom this picture belongs, the date on the back says 1954, and if someone recognises it as theirs, please email or ring 01924 468282.

When I was training to be a reporter over 50 years ago, one of my jobs was to write up all the wedding reports.

All brides would complete a wedding form giving all the details of the day, especially a description of the bride’s dress and those of the bridesmaids.

She even gave what the mothers of the bride and bridegroom were wearing, and I should imagine that these were read with great interest by those who knew them.

Most of the brides wore white, and many of them were full length, and a full description was given of each and every one of them, right down to the embroidery on the veil.

The bride’s bouquet was always given in full detail, and I recall that nearly every single one of them contained Stephanotis (whatever that was) and lilies of the valley.

Also included in the wedding report was where the reception was to be held and where the couple would be going on honeymoon and even where they were going to live after their marriage.

So, when you look at the photograph above, I hope it brings back happy memories for you. They say a picture speaks a thousand words – and to me this one speaks volumes .

Talking of weddings, I also came across this poem the other day which a lady sent to me many, years ago, but she didn’t want her name to be used.

I am including it today because this little poem says a great deal about married life, and the lives we used to live.


We met and we married a long time ago,

We worked for long hours when wages were low.

No TV, no wireless, no bath, times were hard,

Just a cold water tap, and a walk down the yard.

No holidays abroad, no carpets on floor,

We had coal burning fires and we didn’t lock doors.

Our children arrived, no pill in those days,

And they were brought up without any State aids.

No valium, no drugs, no LSD

We cured most of our ills with a good cup of tea.

No vandals, no muggings, there was nothing to rob,

We felt we were rich with a couple of bob.

We were happier in those bygone days,

More caring and kinder in so many ways.

Milkman and paper boy would whistle and sing,

A night at the pictures was like a mad fling.

We all got our share of struggle and strife,

We had to face it, as a pattern of life.

And now I’m alone, I look back through the years,

I don’t think of the bad times, the trouble and tears,

I remember the blessings, our home and our love.

And, that we shared them together,