Captured on camera - Sidmouth couple’s fifties’ courtship

Now: The Ham as it is today

Now: The Ham as it is today - Credit: Archant

It’s a precious moment in time that a professional photographer captured by chance. A courting couple are strolling by the Ham in the late 1950s.

Then: courting couple in the 1950s

Then: courting couple in the 1950s - Credit: Archant

Today Janet Rowe, 80, who lives in Alexandria Road has been reflecting on those ‘innocent times’. She and boyfriend, later husband, Derek had no idea that a photographer was on the bridge over the River Sid taking a picture.

“We only found out when friends told us we must go and look in Mr Read, the photographer’s, window. That’s the shop that’s now the Cats’ Protection League,” she explained.

In the distance you can see the newly thatched shelter near the boating pond that doubled as a swimming pool. The shelter, which was ‘a popular haunt with courting couples’, was burned down not long afterwards.

“We had probably been down to the beach. That would be Stan Bagwell’s seine net which was put out to dry on the bridge,” she added.

Janet Rowe

Janet Rowe - Credit: Archant

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The couple met at a dance at the Marine Theatre, although Janet already knew Derek slightly as a friend of her brother’s. Rock and roll had appeared on the scene but dancing was strictly ballroom.

The couple married in 1961 at the parish church. Derek, who worked for electric company SWEB for 41 years, died in 2004.

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His father had the ironmongers E.W.Rowe next to Vinnicombe’s. Janet’s father Jack Harris was a fisherman. He had a fish round on bicycle, picking up fish from Felixstowe and Grimsby at Sidmouth railway station, then cycling over Peak Hill to Otterton and Newton Poppleford and back via Four Elms Hill.

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