Chesterfield couple's 70th wedding anniversary defies doubters who said teenage marriage would never last

A Chesterfield husband and wife are living proof of the power of love, defying family and friends who feared 70 years ago that their marriage would never last.

By Gay Bolton
Tuesday, 11th January 2022, 6:57 pm
Updated Tuesday, 11th January 2022, 6:57 pm
Platinum wedding couple - Roy and Pat Backhouse.
Platinum wedding couple - Roy and Pat Backhouse.

Roy and Pat Backhouse will celebrate their platinum anniversary this week by being treated to high tea, courtesy of one of their daughters and her daughter.

The couple have two daughters Ann and Christine, a son David, seven grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren.

Roy, 88, recalls that their wedding day was “one of the happiest days of their lives”. The couple were the first through the door of Chesterfield Register Office to tie the knot on January 12, 1952 at 9am, then went back to Pat’s mum’s home for breakfast, later followed by fish and chips upstairs at Bodens cafe and a trip to the Regal Cinema to watch Showboat. Roy said: “We really splashed out that day.”

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The couple had known each other since childhood, first meeting when Roy was a ten-year-old singer in Chesterfield Parish Church choir and Pat visited the church as a nine-year-old with her Sunday school. Roy said: “That day I walked her home down Foljambe Road. I kept seeing her most days until I was 16 and I'd been to her house a couple of times. When I was nearly 17 we got engaged and just before I went in the Forces we got married. Our families and friends thought it would never last.”

Just a couple of weeks after their marriage, Roy left his job as an engineer at Sheepbridge Engineering to start three years’ National Service with the Royal Corps of Signals. He later returned to his old employment, clocking up a total of 30 years at the Chesterfield company before it closed and he was made redundant. Roy was out of work for only a couple of weeks before he landed a post as caretaker at Westfield Infants School in Brampton where he worked for 11 years. He then worked for another 11 years on a tool stall in Chesterfield market hall before retiring in his late seventies.

On leaving school Pat worked at Elliott’s sweet factory, at the back of St Thomas Church in Brampton, and then at Chesterfield’s Trebor confectionery works before she married Roy. After marriage she was employed as a machine operator at Robinsons & Sons firstly at Walton works and then at Portland works clocking up around 25 years with the company.

Roy and Pat have lived in the same house on Hunloke Crescent, Boythorpe, for 68 years. Pat, 87, said: “It’s nice and quiet and we’ve had some lovely neighbours throughout the years.”

When they were younger, Pat enjoyed tapestry and dress-making while Roy’s main hobby was carving and he made dolphins, masks and fox heads.

Roy said that their recipe for a long and happy marriage was: “You have to give and take and don’t argue.”

The couple are still as much in love as the day they got married. Roy said: “What's the point in stopping with each other is if the love is not there?”