Wedding day excitement as new life started with new landmark
IT was a new life ahead of them, and it started in a new hotel.
That was 50 years ago, so it is a significant landmark for Robert and Judy Nettleship and the chosen venue for their wedding reception, Swansea's Dragon Hotel.
Theirs was the first at that most familiar of buildings in the centre of town, and they have gone back there to recall the start of their married life together.
The Killay couple married on St Swithin's Day, just weeks after the Dragon's opening on May 12, 1961, and are planning on going back there again for their golden wedding anniver- sary celebrations on July 15.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
Robert, aged 75 and the retired founding partner of Swansea law firm Geo L Thomas, Nettleship & Co, and 72-year-old Judy are keen swimmers and regularly attend the hotel's health club.
"Opening the Evening Post and reading about the hotel's 50th anniversary reminded me of the many lovely times that we have enjoyed there," said Robert.
"Over the years it has been the venue for many prestigious and memorable events and the dinners and dances held in the old ballroom really were a talking point around Swansea. The hotel has been brought right up to date in recent years and we still visit it regularly because it has continued to be a lovely, welcoming place with high standards, particularly during the last six years or so since it was acquired by the present owners."
The couple met in 1957 after a series of brief introductions via acquaintances in the years before. They were engaged on Judy's birthday in 1959 and set about planning the wedding for 18 months later.
"We were married on St Swithin's Day, and true to form it poured down, but the day was lovely," said Judy. "We had quite a late wedding, around 2pm. In those days weddings and their receptions weren't the day-long affairs that they are now.
"We were married at St Paul's Church in Sketty and then made our way to The Dragon where we were met at the entrance by a little page boy from the hotel, who presented us with a silver horseshoe with best wishes from the hotel staff.
''It was a nice touch and we still have it now.
"Because it had only just opened there was certainly a sense of excitement about the venue and it was lovely to be the first couple to enjoy a wedding breakfast there and for our 80 plus guests to see the new hotel."
Reminders of the reception are with Robert regularly, thanks to the conversion 20 years ago of the original ballroom into the swimming pool, part of the health club complex.
"By strange coincidence, where we cut our wedding cake almost 50 years ago is the exact spot at which I now enter the swimming pool most mornings for my swim," he said.
"If I remember rightly the food for the reception was a finger buffet, which was of the impeccable standard that people have come to expect of The Dragon.
''We left our guests at about 5.30pm to catch the train to London ready for our flight to Puerto Soller in Mallorca the next day.
"The next few hours turned into a bit of a calamity with us having to leave our first hotel in London because it was so awful. We then traipsed through Knightsbridge with our suitcases in tow looking for a decent room for the night. Looking back it's all very humorous, but at the time we weren't quite seeing the funny side of it."
Now 50 years on, the couple who have spent many of their anniversaries in Mallorca, are planning another trip to the island this summer, followed by a gathering with friends and family later on in the year to celebrate their golden anniversary.
Accommodation in London on their wedding night may have been an issue, but their choice of reception venue was certainly not.
"There really was a sense of grandeur surrounding The Dragon Hotel," said Robert. "The people of Swansea were very proud to have this splendid new building in the city, and had embraced it as it injected a sense of positivity and pride in an area that had been ripped apart during the war.
"It was fast becoming the place to be, so it was lovely to be a part of that and to have our day there. And we are very happy that it continues to be such a resounding success and marker for quality in the city.
"I'm sure there are many more people out there who share very fond memories of the hotel over the years, and we are very much looking forward to seeing their photographs and stories alongside our own memories of it, at the exhibition that's being held there next month."
The Dragon Memories Exhibition, looking back at role the hotel has played in the lives of the people of Swansea over the last 50 years, runs for a month from April 12.
Already guests and former staff members have sent pictures, letters and emails detailing their memories of the place.
Anyone still wishing to contribute should include details of their name and postal address on all items and mark them for the attention of The Dragon Memories Exhibition, The Dragon Hotel, The Kingsway, Swansea, SA1 5LS.