Cutting the wedding cake is a centuries-old tradition that symbolises the bride and groom’s commitment to each other and is the first activity they do together as a married couple. For Mr and Mrs J H Straw it marked the beginning of 55 years of devotion and wedded bliss – and what better place to celebrate their pledge than the romantic Spanish Hall.
Agnes Bonar (known as Nancy) married John Henry Straw (who everyone called Harry) at 3pm on October 29th 1960 at Blackpool’s Congregational Church on Victoria Street.
Around 50 guests joined them for their reception in the spectacular Spanish Hall afterwards, dining and dancing in its elaborate courtyard beneath sparking chandeliers. Those who couldn’t attend sent telegrams addressed to the Winter Gardens.
Fate brought them together after Nancy’s family moved to Blackpool from Scotland in the early 50s and bought a guest house on Charnley Road. A couple of years later Harry’s family arrived from Nottingham, having bought the guest house next door. First of all it was Nancy’s brother and Harry’s sister who fell in love and got married, but then romance blossomed between their siblings and after 18 months of courting, Nancy and Harry also tied the knot. They chose the 29th October as Nancy worked for her parents and that was the end of the summer season - and so began more than half a century of devotion and a lifetime of love.
Tragically their wedding vows became a heart-breaking reflection of their promise “to love and to cherish till death do us part”. Nancy was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2011, and Harry continued to love her through sickness just as he did in health. When Harry died suddenly in 2015, shortly after celebrating their 55th wedding anniversary, Nancy continued to ask for her husband until she could no longer remember, before passing away in 2018.
They had one child, a daughter, Carolann, who continued to live in Blackpool. She said: “They had a very happy marriage, were devoted to each other as a couple and were the best parents a girl could ever wish for. They were my best friends as well as my mum and dad, I miss them both so much.”
Carolann now cherishes the telegrams, written guest list and marriage pages from their wedding album, saying: “I treasure Mum's engagement and wedding ring, they're kept in a little box next to Mum and Dad's ashes - together forever.”
When sharing her parents’ story and the happy memories they shared as a family, Carolann said: it's important to me to keep their memory alive and this is a very unexpected but lovely way to do just that.”