Mary and Arthur were married on 25th March 1950, after meeting at a dance academy run by Arthur’s friends. Here, Mary tells the story of their courtship and wedding.
“We met in 1945 at a dance academy that belonged to friends of Arthur. My sister was going to dancing lessons, and mum had encouraged me to go along as I was very nervous at dances; I didn’t have the confidence – I was only sixteen and a half.
Arthur was a Flight Sergeant in the RAF. We courted for five years and often went to dances and to the pictures. We once stood for an hour and a half to see ‘A Matter of Life and Death’, as Arthur had written to me to tell me about it; he’d seen it on his base. Arthur wrote to me every day – sometimes twice. He’d send a brief note to say he was going flying, then another when he returned; “Got back safe, love you”. We were, and are still, very close. I’ve still got all those letters, from the beginning, when we met in 1945. I keep them all in date order at home.
We got engaged when I was nineteen and he was twenty-two. Arthur asked my dad’s permission to marry me on a Sunday afternoon after tea. He said, “Mr Taylor, I just want to ask you a question. I’d like to marry Mary; may I have your permission?” Dad turned and looked at me and smiled, and smiled at Arthur and said, “If you promise to look after her!” We were very close, Dad and I. We had wonderful parents on both sides and we’re both made to feel very welcome. Arthur would come and meet me after work in Newcastle and we’d go for tea at his mum’s house, where he’d stand behind my chair where I was sitting. His mum said to him, “Arthur, what do you think we’re going to do to Mary? You don’t have to protect her!” It’s the little things.
My sister was my chief bridesmaid, and Arthur had his best friend as his best man. We married in St. George’s Church in Gateshead, with a lot of people there, including our ninety-odd-year-old grandmothers! Our reception was in the church hall next door, and my mother catered, as we still had rationing until 1953, and you still bought things with coupons. When it came to my dress, we thought about trying to get some fabric to make one, but I had heard a friend was wanting to sell her wedding dress. I went and tried it on – it was more a cream than a white – and bought a new veil to go with it. Arthur bought me my pearls.
Following our wedding in 1950, we lived in Newcastle, where the first of our two sons was born. We moved to Newcastle for work, but it broke my heart leaving, and I just didn’t settle in the area, so in 1956 we moved to Newton Aycliffe, and still have the same house now.
I did keep a horseshoe from our wedding, but over the years it got damaged; however, I have all the photographs and all the letters he sent to me from the 1940s!”
Editorial – Kim West