FAMILY ROOTS: Power cut couldn’t spoil a perfect day

Elaine and Robert Murphy who where married in The Owton Manor Community Centre
Elaine and Robert Murphy who where married in The Owton Manor Community Centre

THEY were the days of T.Rex, the New Seekers and Ernie. The days when Clive Dunn sang about Granddad and Dawn had a hit with Knock Three Times. And 1972 was the year when Elaine Murphy got married in a community centre which is now celebrating its 50th anniversary. Chris Cordner reports.

THE date was February 12, 1972.

The occasion was the wedding of Elaine Prosser and Robert Murphy and the venue was the Owton Manor Community Centre.

Forty one years on, the couple have shared their reminiscences of their big day. They contacted us when we appealed for people who’d married at the centre to share their memories.

Elaine, now 60, remembered: “It might have been February but it was a lovely sunny day. It had been snowing the week before but we were all squinting into the sun for the wedding photos.”

They were married at St Aidan’s Church before the reception at the community centre with 130 guests.

Elaine, who worked at Binns, RHM and then Springwell School as a nursery nurse, said: “We met at the Grange Youth Club and he lived out the back of my house. We had been courting for four years when we got married.

“A lot of my family came up from Wales for it. I remember that the community centre had a kitchen and we had soup for starters and roast beef for the main course. I can’t remember what the dessert was but I know we had a choice of two.”

But mum-of-one Elaine’s abiding memory of the day is running late for her own wedding.

She explained: “There was a power cut at the hairdresser’s. Two of the girls had long her as well and they had wet hair with curlers in. We were rushing around trying to get their hair dry. We had to have people helping them to get dressed.”

It all resulted in the bride’s entourage arriving ten minutes late for the ceremony and Elane, mum to Lisa Murphy, admitting: “Robert was probably thinking I was having second thoughts!”

The couple. from Oakland Avenue in Hartlepool are still “going strong,” said Elaine.

Robert, now retired, used to work for the Hartlepool Mail before joining ICI.

Chief bridesmaid for Elaine was her sister Susan Boddy, nee Prosser. Best man as Jimmy Slaughter who stepped in as a late replacement.

They were happy days for Robert and Elaine who remembered the community centre as a popular place for weddings. “They used to do dances as well,” said Elaine. “My mam used to go with her friend.”

Now, the centre is set for a celebration thanks to staff at the Central Library in Hartlepool.

They are putting together a programme of events which includes plans for a tea dance on October 23.

But there are other ways in which people can help the anniversary go with a swing.

If anyone has photographs or memorabilia related to the community centre or library over the past 50 years, people should contact the Central Library staff to hopefully include them in the exhibition.

Anyone who can help should contact the reference library on (01429) 242909 or visit Owton Manor library.