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Cranham war veteran searches for first meeting place with wife

PUBLISHED: 16:17 03 February 2015 | UPDATED: 16:17 03 February 2015

Tom Harvey stands next to a montage of photographs, which has a picture of him and his late wife, Violet in the centre, at his house in Upminster.

Tom Harvey stands next to a montage of photographs, which has a picture of him and his late wife, Violet in the centre, at his house in Upminster.

Archant

A pensioner who met his wife 71 years ago is determined to relive their first meeting and go back to where it all began – if only he knew where it was.

In 1943, Tom Harvey, 90, of Lichfield Terrace, Cranham, went to visit his sister in Gidea Park while he was on 48-hour leave from the Royal Engineers in Chatham.

The siblings celebrated Tom’s first night home by making a visit to the Palais de Dance hall in South Street, Romford – it was here that Tom first locked eyes with 17-year-old dressmaker Violet Harley.

He said: “The first thought that came into my head was about how beautiful she was.

“She was really lovely and for me, it was love at first sight.”

The couple exchanged more than 1,000 love letters while Tom was away at war until he returned and married Violet at the Romford Baptist Church, in Main Road, Romford, in 1946.

Tom’s granddaughter Sally Mathie, 35, said: “My granddad told me that every month they would share some champagne and read each other their letters from the war but when she died four years ago, I started to read everything she sent to him instead so he would still be able to hear her words.”

Tom is now hoping to once again pay a visit to the Palais de Dance where he met Violet but retracing his steps is proving difficult.

The dance hall has changed its identity many times over the years and the 90-year-old has rarely visited the town centre since that memorable night.

He said: “It would be really nice to go back and reminiscence about what happened that evening – I just need to get there first!” Sally said; “It would be amazing to take him back to where him and my nan met so if anyone could help us we would really appreciate it.”

Do you know where the Palais de Dance in South Street, Romford was?

Call 0208 477 3719 or email hayley.anderson@archant.co.uk


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