Nostalgia by Robert Heaven

Do people still get “engaged” to be married, or as they used to say “Betrothed”?

I can't remember the last time I went to an engagement party, or to a wedding now I come to think about it.

Government statistics say that for the past 45 years, the number of people of the opposite sex getting married has largely been falling but even so in 2014 the last year for which we have data there were 247,372 marriages between opposite sex couples in England and Wales.

That’s a lot of people that tied the knot, and a considerable amount of cake!

In the 1960s it was an accepted part of life for many of us growing up back then, that you would leave School, get a job (hopefully an Apprenticeship) and get married to a local Girl; probably someone you’d gone to School with.

Before walking up the aisle of Watermoor or the Parish Church (St Peter’s if you were Catholic); getting engaged was an important prerequisite and meant a ring from Leonard Jones or Stradlings, in the Market place; and a party in the function room of one of the town’s pubs.

The Bingham Hall was also a popular venue for parties and wedding receptions.

Like many people of my age; I have happy memories of 1960s Saturday afternoon "knees-ups" in the Rifle Range; after waving the bride and groom off outside on their honeymoon to Weston Super Mare or similar via a taxi to Ciren Station or Kemble for the London Train.

I knew many teenagers who got actually married at 16, two years before they were old enough to drink alcohol.

There were "engaged couple classes" in town and the Electricity Board (SWEB) in Cricklade street taught couples how to make toast in one of the new fangled electric toasters and how boil an egg and other essentials of married life.