CHRISTMAS Day 2013 will be very special for one Black Country couple – Bert and Mary Barnsley of Cradley Heath, both aged 93, who will celebrate their platinum wedding anniversary.
Seventy years ago, at 12.30pm on Christmas Day, 1943, Bert and Mary were wed at Holy Trinity Church, Old Hill.
The reason they married on Christmas Day was because, at the height of the Second World War, it was the only day off work Bert could get from his reserved occupation at Horseley Bridge and Thomas Piggott in Tipton.
They originally planned to get married at St Luke's Church, Cradley Heath, but the vicar told them he would be on holiday over Christmas, saying: "I want to be miles away."
Mary and Bert were both born in Peartree Lane, Cradley Heath, just two days apart in 1923. Mary's father was a miner who worked at many collieries in the area, finishing at Oldnall, while her mother kept a chain shop in the backyard. Bert's father was a steel erector and so worked away from home a lot.
Back then Peartree Lane was known locally as "Buck Street" after the Buck Tunnel under the railway line.
Most families living there had a nickname and Mary's was known as the Goeys. Other families were the Slips, Bottle-ups, Belchers and Cobbler Bills.
Bert and Mary courted for five years before they wed. Bert started work at the Horseley Ironworks, aged 13.
At the time he married he was a template maker working on vital projects for the war effort. Bert worked on prototypes for the bouncing bomb, scout cars and landing craft for tanks. Mary worked at Lenches as a roll thread operator. Among many things she made were the bolts for Anderson shelters. Mary remembers that in the war they worked many long shifts and "having a day off was criminal".
As well as his work Bert was an ARP warden at the post at the council offices in Old Hill. He recalls finishing a 10-hour shift at work, then having a quick wash and change before going on ARP duty until 6am. After the war Bert went on to be foreman in the construction bay. He worked on many big jobs, including Spaghetti Junction, the Sutton Coldfield transmitter, the Dome of Discovery at the Festival of Britain and other projects across the country. He retired in 1985 after 51 years' service.
Mary and Bert have lived at their home in Codsall Road ever since they were married, having moved in as soon as it was built. They have no children but have many nieces and nephews and they will spend their special day with their family.
To send your congratulations to Bert and Mary go to www.blackcountry bugle.co.uk
Do you know anyone who can beat Bert and Mary's record of 70 years' marriage? If you can email editor@black countrybugle.co.uk or write to us at 41 High Street, Cradley Heath, B64 5HL.