ONE of the oldest couples in the country who met as young film fans at the height of the Great Depression celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary yesterday.

Lawrence “Laurie” Brown , who turns 98 next week, and his wife May, 97, cannot remember the first movie they saw together, but know they had caught each other’s eye.

While May confessed she fell in love the moment she saw him at the Plaza cinema in Consett, County Durham, Laurie quipped that “love at first sight is for the fairies”.

Laurie worked as a blacksmith at the Consett Steelworks, while May worked as a housekeeper for the Borells – the “bees knees” in the clothing business at the time.

Laurie said: “We didn’t dance, so both used to go to the movies a lot. We went to Newcastle to see the first colour movie when it was shown there. It was the Singing Fool.”

The couple, who attended the Methodist Church, in Consett, married in 1935.

Laurie said: “It was the Great Depression then. And they are saying it will be worse now than in the Thirties.”

Incidentally, the year the Browns married was when the Conservative party was last elected into power as part of a coalition with the Liberals.

As a reserved worker, Laurie remained with the steelworks during the Second World War, but also served as an auxiliary firefighter.

He said: “We thought the steelworks would last forever – that is until Margaret Thatcher tore it down.”

Laurie stayed with the steelworks for 49-and-a-half years.

He said: “I wanted to go until 50 years, but had the chance of retiring early, when they were cutting down staff.”

May gave up work when she got married to become a housewife, but worked as a volunteer with the YMCA and was present when the YMCA was opened in Consett by Princess Mary. She recalled: “She used the old loo. When she openedit it fell apart, but she still used it.”

May then travelled with her husband to London where she presented the then Princess Royal with a purse.

The couple, who lived in Gladstone Street and Gladstone Gardens, Consett, have a son Allan, 68. They were joined by grandchildren and great-grandchildren at a party held by Brockwell Court Care Home in Consett, where Laurie visits May six days a week.

Asked what their secret was to many happy years together Laurie joked: “We used to fight. We still do. But I have a very forgiving nature.”