After 76 years of wedded bliss, is this Sheffield's longest-married couple?

Hal and Barbara Craine have just celebrated their 76th wedding anniversary
Hal and Barbara Craine have just celebrated their 76th wedding anniversary
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As first dates go, they don't get more awkward, but that didn't stop this Sheffield couple going on to celebrate 76 years of marriage... and counting.

Hal and Barbara Craine met during the Blitz on the dance floor at St Patrick's Church at Lane Top, where they were enjoying a waltz together when their budding romance was rudely interrupted by the drone of the air raid siren.

Hal and Barbara Craine on their wedding day on June 6, 1942

Hal and Barbara Craine on their wedding day on June 6, 1942

Hal had travelled from Wincobank that evening so he accompanied Barbara back to her home on nearby Far View Road, where they joined her parents in the cramped confines of their air raid shelter.

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Being cooped up with the prospective in-laws on the night you meet is no one's idea of fun, but fortunately the young steelworker made nearly as good an impression on them as he had on Barbara, who then just 17, six years younger than her new beau.

Despite that inauspicious beginning, love quickly blossomed between the pair and on June 6, 1942, they tied the knot at St Thomas' Church in Wincobank on a sweltering day culminating in a thunderstorm which thankfully did not prove a bad omen.

Now aged 100 and 94, they are still going strong and last Wednesday celebrated their 76th wedding anniversary - making their marriage one of Britain's most enduring, and possibly the longest-lasting in all of Sheffield.

Barbara in her younger years

Barbara in her younger years

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Reflecting on three quarters of a century together, Hal said: "We've been very happy together. We've had our arguments but we've ridden the waves.

"Marriage is about give and take, and I think young people these days give up on it too easily without trying to work through any problems they have."

Hal worked for English Steel, as it was known when he joined, for most of his life, and Barbara spent the war years in the offices of Ambrose Shardlow's, which made crankshafts for Spitfire fighter aircraft.

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The pair shared a passion for music, with Barbara playing the piano and Hal the organ and accordion.

Hal in his youth

Hal in his youth

They once appeared together at Sheffield City Hall at a special concert for musicians working in the steel industry, where they performed the ragtime hit Twelfth Street Rag.

Hal turned his talents into a lucrative sideline, working evenings and weekends as an organist in working men's clubs around Sheffield, where he played for the likes of Lynne Perrie, former Coronation Street actress Liz Dawn and cabaret star Marti Caine, while keeping up the day job.

Hal, who spent 18 months in the RAF, was also a keen gardener and DIY enthusiast, and their daughter Shirleigh told how Barbara was a talented cook who knew the way to her husband's heart was through his belly, especially when it came to her famous bread and butter pudding.

After marrying, the couple rented two rooms in Wincobank from one of Hal's sisters for six years before moving to a newly-built house in Parson Cross where they still live together 70 years later.

They had three daughters and are now grandparents four times over and have the same number of great-grandchildren.

Asked what she still remembers of that portentous first dance, Barbara recalls: "It was more or less love at first sight."