The war was over and we decided to get married. So the date was set for May 18th. 1946. To take place at St. James Parish Church, Gorton - Rev. H.G. Frew officiating. Rationing, clothing coupons, and of course it was the time of utility furniture.
The preparations had to be done, both sets of parents decided they would help with coupons and food, and of course where to have the reception.
The decision was, The Swan Hotel on Hyde Road, Gorton, convenient for all. My Mother and I went along to book it, That was in November 1945, no problems. It was vacant for May 18th and with rationing you had to do your own catering. The Landlord was a born and bred Gortonian, Mother's parents had known his parents, so I heard about their bygone days.
Who was to make my wedding dress? How many coupons would be needed?
The dress and bridesmaid's dresses were made by Miss F. Locke, Church Lane (now Cambert Lane), Gorton. I knew how much material was needed. Both families donated coupons, even friends helped.
Where would I see the material I wanted? What would it be like? What a headache to find it! My Mother's brother who lived in Stockport came with news, go to Stockport Market on the following Saturday to see this gentleman, we did just that. My luck was in, we were to go to Cheetham Hill the next day (Sunday) to the warehouse. He had white satin brocade, peach crepe and turquoise satin, the trip was done. Just what I wanted, satin brocade. Coupons, how many? I wanted a train on my dress and what about the retinue. I had four bridesmaids - two in peach and two in turquoise and not to forget my niece and nephew (who were twins). I was some coupons short, so a deal was done and I left Cheetham Hill with the material. Wedding Cars! Once again Mother said we would go and see Harold. Now Harold was Harold Wheipton, the Funeral Director on Wellington Street, Gorton. My Mother's name was Alice it was the same greeting "Hello Alice", "Hello Harold" - family friends again. "Can I order two cars for Lou's wedding?" "What's the date?" Mother told him, "No problem" said Harold as he booked two cars.
"Mam, what about my wedding cake, I do not want a cardboard model". "Don't worry something will be done, time yet". "Hey Mam, I have not got a veil yet". "I know" she said. We had managed to get four headdresses for the bridesmaids from Myer's Outfitters on Cross Street, Gorton (now Garratt. Way), but no brides' veils.
Weeks went by, then one night Mam tells me "I think you will have a veil, it will be second-hand to you but it has never been worn before". I got it, and what a veil. Five yards long, it was a bride's dream. The headdress was borrowed and full of orange blossom.
Now Mam had tinned fruit stored, the tops and bottoms of the tins greased well for storage. No sell-by dates then. She would see the butcher nearer the time for a couple of Ox Tongues. Alice was always good at pressing tongues. My husband-to-be had an Uncle Joe who lived in Bromborough Village. He had his own Smithy, he was a blacksmith and wheelwright, of course he shod the horses for the farmers. He knew a kind farmer who supplied him with a full ham, so that would be going on the table.
At one time in Gorton, Squires' Wine Lodge was in Croft Street, Gorton (now Stelling Street), that is off Chapman Street and Wellington Street. You could go and get Port Wine and Sherry from there, they had a special Port called Squires' Ruby Special which was the best. The owner of the Wine Lodge was Mr. Fred Squire and he got us a half barrel of Robinson's Beer. So they were the refreshments taken care of.
The Deiroy Band of Droylsden conducted by Mr. W .Shergold had been booked for the dancing.
The wedding cake was ordered, but it had to be without Royal Icing. That was made by Kids, the bakers on Hyde Road, Gorton. My husband-to-be sailed on a ship carrying sugar from Tate & Lyle's factory, which was in Silvertown, London. My dream came true, he managed to get twenty eight pounds of Icing Sugar.
So back to Mrs Kids with the news, they would ice my cake in three tiers if they could have the remainder of the sugar and they would make me five dozen fancy cakes free of charge - of course I said yes.
All ready, dresses made, just the ham and tongues to be done (yes Mam got the tongues). So on the Tuesday, Mam and I had a walk to the Swan Hotel to see Mr. Lee, the Landlord, only to hear him say, "Oh Alice, the room is double booked". We could not have it.
Now Mother was only five feet one inch in height, but she could go at you faster than a machine gun. She gave him what for, and hoped his beer turned sour.
"Oh! Mam, what will we do?" The reply came, "Something will turn up ". "Come on, we will call at Harold's and pay for the cars". When I think back, I must have looked like another customer for burial to Harold. "Are the cars alright Harold?", "Of course, Alice". Then he asked me whether I was nervous. That did it, the tears flowed. Mam tells him all about the room. "Wipe your eyes, don't cry", Harold replies. "Two hours ago I had a cancellation for two cars for the l8th. May and they have cancelled the room at the Wellington Street Co-operative Hall".
I was left with Harold while Mother shot off and came back with the news, "You've got the room and it is a beautiful room and it is paid for, you can go and see it later". I did go later, it was a grand room with a lovely dance floor. The band was informed they would be playing there. The ham went in the oven on the Wednesday night. Now you the reader know every street has a "Nosey Parker". We heard the voice of ours, over the dividing wall from next door. "Alice, what a lovely smell, what are you cooking?" Mam replied, "Something for the wedding" How many have heard the Bradshaws on the radio? The next thing Dad tells me, "Shut the kitchen door, they will be queueing up next with their ration books".
May 18th. came and the sun was shining. The cars arrived, two black shiny limousines. My turn came to go, proudly on Dad's arm. The train and veil arranged to walk down the aisle.
When we did so, however, it wasn't to any organ accompaniment, the organist was late. In fact, the ceremony was over and we were signing the Register in the Vestry when the first organ notes sounded. The organist had only then just arrived. Still, at least we had our music to walk out to! The Gorton and Openshaw Reporter's photographer was outside the church, and it is a good job he was! When the photographer we had booked brought the proofs a week later, he had - wait for it - only got our wedding mixed up with another. Needless to say he was sent back to his studio sharpish.
It was a grand reception we had, then a week's honeymoon in North Wales. Then my husband returned to sail the seas. The Wedding Licence cost 7/6d = 36p I look back and think it was money well spent.
On the l8th. May we did not just become Husband and Wife, we also became the best of friends for the rest of our lives.
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