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News Archive > General > Bike couple mark 60th anniversary

Bike couple mark 60th anniversary

By Simon Fernley 19th October 2016

Bike couple mark 60th anniversary
Jean and Bob on the motorcycle that took them to their wedding.

A COUPLE who ran away to Scotland to get married have proved those who doubted them wrong ... in fact, they are now celebrating their Diamond Wedding anniversary!

In 1956 Jean and Bob Smith endured a two-day drive up to Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland on the back of an old 125cc Royal Enfield motorcycle in order to take advantage of the country’s marriage laws.

The couple first met when Bob, who was originally from St Newlyn East, was working in the Perranporth Hotel as a chef with his father. Each morning Bob had to serve the head waitress breakfast – the two did not see eye-to-eye but one busy summer changed Bob’s perspective.

He explained: “As we were approaching the summer season it was announced we would be getting more staff in. One of the new employees was going to be the head waitress’s daughter,  Jean. As soon as I saw her, I fell in love.”

Jean, who was 17 at the time, was under strict supervision from her mother and was not allowed out without being accompanied by her brother. Instead, the pair only saw each other at work and began secretly courting.

Over the summer the two got closer and decided the only way they could continue their relationship without interference was to get married. They began planning and saving money for the journey to Scotland.

Without telling anyone the couple made their way to Scotland on Bob’s bike. After two days of driving the pair found their original destination of Gretna Green was full and so they had to get married in the next village over.

Jean said: “We hadn’t told a soul. Bob sent a postcard to his mum telling her he was on holiday, but didn’t buy a stamp so she had to pay to receive it. My mother called the police so we had officers out looking for us, but once we had reached Scotland there was nothing they could do.

“We stayed in a guesthouse with a woman called Mrs Mitchell, who made sure I stayed in the room next to her and Bob stayed in a room on the opposite side. I’ll never forget her.

“We had to stay there for three weeks before we could be married, so in some respects we had our honeymoon before the wedding. We travelled and toured around a little and spent time in Edinburgh.”

After three weeks in Scotland, Jean and Bob were able to get married and decided to travel home the same night.

Unfortunately, on the journey home, they became engulfed by fog, forcing them to stop.
Jean explained: “We had never seen fog like it. As we were travelling Bob saw something through the mist and immediately slammed on the brakes. I flew over the handlebars and Bob came off the bike.

“Near the accident was a phone box. The fog was too thick to continue so Bob slept in the phone box and I stayed with the bike. The family have never let us forget we spent our honeymoon in a phone box!”

When they returned home the couple were confronted by police officers but, as Bob and Jean were already married, there was little the officers could do. With only £5 and the old bike to their name, the newly-weds began their new life.

At first the couple stayed with Bob’s mother before moving into the Arlington Hotel on Berry Road in Newquay. There they lived and worked until they managed to buy a caravan and eventually moved into a council house.

The pair have had three children, 10 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, with another due in the New Year.

Daughter, Connie Kearle, said: “There are not many people who get to 60 years of marriage. I’m very proud of them. It has been great hearing all of their stories over the years and I can’t believe how brave they were to go against their parents. My parents knew they were right for each other on first sight, and there are not many who can say that.”

The Royal Enfield bike, which carried Jean and Bob to Scotland, was sold by the pair in 1958 but, 40 years later, it made a surprise return.

Bob explained: “Whenever I do work on a vehicle, I always write my name on the engine. I’m a member of the Kernow Old Vehicle Club and saw a Royal Enfield at one of their rallies. Considering the memories linked to the model, I thought it would be nice to buy the bike and do it up.

“To my surprise, when I got it home and opened it up, there was my name written on the engine! We were in shock. Now we’re going to keep hold of the bike and pass it on through the family.”

To celebrate 60 years of wedded bliss, Bob and Jean, who now live in Jean’s childhood home of Perranporth, will be holding a family party later in the year. They believe the secret to their long marriage is doing everything together.

Jean said: “We’ve been a partnership this entire time. Many people said we wouldn’t last but we have worked hard and now look at where we are.”

Connie added: “I want to say happy anniversary to my parents on behalf of the whole family. It’s an awesome achievement to get that far and we are all over the moon for them.”

By Simon Fernley 19th October 2016

Barbara 26th October 2016 13:38
My husband & I are from Newquay emigrated to Australia 35 years ago, love reading the Newquay Voice online, just loved this story & read it over again, so brave of you both to elope back in 1956 I wish you many more happy years together.
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