Harold and Bessie are a platinum pair

WHEN Harold and Bessie Yarrow met and married, Britain was deep in the depths of depression.Just a few months before they tied the knot, the Jarrow Marchers had walked from the north-east to London to lobby Parliament at a time when the country was steeped in unemployment and poverty.

By Richard Cornwell

WHEN Harold and Bessie Yarrow met and married, Britain was deep in the depths of depression.

Just a few months before they tied the knot, the Jarrow Marchers had walked from the north-east to London to lobby Parliament at a time when the country was steeped in unemployment and poverty.

Mrs Yarrow said: “We had known each other four or five years and I remember we spoke about whether we could afford to get married or not.

“Harold said we needed at least £5 a week - and we had £4 and ten shillings.

“But we decided we could manage and even bought our own house!”

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The couple - who have just celebrated their platinum anniversary of 70 years at their home at Foxgrove Retirement Home in High Road East, Old Felixstowe - were among the lucky ones as they took on a £750 house with a mortgage of £1 a week.

Mr Yarrow worked as a quality control engineer at Hoffmans, one of the three big factories in Chelmsford, employing hundreds of people. Elsewhere in Britain, shipyards were closing, factories shutting down and thousands were left jobless as industry collapsed.

Mr Yarrow, 95, was born in Belfast and as a small child sat on his father's shoulders to watch the launching of the ill-fated Titanic at the city's Harland and Wolff shipyard.

His family moved to Essex, where he eventually trained as a mechanical engineer. He volunteered for the Essex Yeomanry during World War Two but because his work at the ball bearings factory was considered essential he did not see active service, though served in the ARP and Home Guard.

Daughter of a city stockbroker who lost his money in the depression, Mrs Yarrow, now 90, was born in Chelmsford, a shy girl who tagged along with her two older sisters Belinda and Winnie as chaperone when they went out on walks or picnics with their boyfriends.

She trained as a secretary and met Mr Yarrow at a dance.

She said: “It was love at first sight for him.” However it took two years of wooing before they married on a dull, overcast day at St John's Church, Chelmsford, on April 17, 1937.

Sadly, no photographs remain of their wedding day - Mrs Yarrow was so disappointed in how they turned out she tore them up, much to the anger of her husband. Their marriage though was to survive the upset.

They had three daughters - Jane, Angela and Rosemary - and today also have nine grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

After living in Essex all their working life, they retired to Hethersett in Norfolk to be close to Bessie's sisters, becoming involved with the horticultural society and bowls club, and then moved to Felixstowe about five years ago to be near their daughter Rosemary and her husband Alan.

Mrs Yarrow said they had led a simple life, never having much money but being happy together.

She said: “We loved going for walks and on camping holidays, and when we were young Harold had a motorcycle and we would ride down to Devon - it was quite shocking for a woman to go on a motorbike in those days. I remember wearing Wellington boots and borrowing man's trousers to keep me warm.”

Do you know anyone married longer? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

FASTFACTS: 1937

Following the Abdication of Edward VIII to marry Mrs Wallis Simpson, George VI was crowned at Westminster Abbey on May 12. The BBC TV coverage of the event was the first large scale outside broadcast in Britain - watched by about 50,000 people.

Conservative politician Neville Chamberlain became Prime Minister following Stanley Baldwin's resignation. The National Government, formed from all parties in 1931 to tackle Britain's economic problems continued.

First issue of the comic book Detective Comics, which introduced Batman, published in the USA - and is still printed today.

In the USA, the German airship Hindenburg burst into flames when mooring to a mast in Lakehurst, New Jersey.

The Golden Gate Bridge linking San Francisco and Marin County opened.

Around 11,000 people were killed in The Great Hong Kong Typhoon.

Britain began use of the 999 emergency phone number.

Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first feature-length animated cartoon, opens and becomes a smash hit.

Famous people born included Shirley Bassey, Vanessa Redgrave, Boris Spassky, Tom Courtenay, Warren Beatty, Saddam Hussein, Jack Nicholson, David Hockney, Bobby Charlton, Anthony Hopkins, Gordon Banks and Jane Fonda.

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