A couple who fled to Scotland to marry 60 years ago have accidentally bought back the motorbike they eloped on – which still had their love note in the engine.
Lovebirds Jean and Bob Smith ran away to tie the knot in secret in 1956 because their parents considered them too young to wed.
Their mode of transport for the 600 mile two-day journey from their home in Cornwall to Dumfries and Galloway was a 1947 Royal Enfield Flying Flea motorbike.
They had to sell it a few years later to cover bills but when Bob, 79, recently spotted what he thought was a similar model at a vintage rally he had to snap it up.
And he was stunned when he was piecing it back together and opened the crank shaft to find a love note inside.
The note had both their names on and the year and place they were married and said ”this bike was where it all began for us and made our love possible”.
Bob and Jean – who have just celebrated their Diamond Wedding anniversary – realised it was the exact same bike they had used to start their life of marital bliss.
Jean, 77, said: “When my husband took the crank case off he found a love note he had written so we knew it was the original bike.
“I could not believe it. It had both our names on and the year and place we were married. It said “This bike made our love possible.
“My husband couldn’t even remember writing it. He normally writes a note in the crankshaft on all his bikes with his name so he knows which one he has done up – but this one was obviously extra special for us.
“As soon as we found the love note we knew it was our bike. We do vintage rallies and my husband came across one that looked exactly like our old one.
“It brought back so many memories that we just had to buy it.”
Jean and Bob, of Perranporth, Cornwall, say they are still very much in love after a life-time together and they celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary earlier this month.
They are planning a big family celebration in December with their three children Janet, 58, Connie, 55, and David, 54, as well as ten grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.
The teenage lovebirds first met when Jean took a job at the Perranporth Hotel where her mother was head waitress.
She was employed as a waitress and Bob was the head chef.
It was love at first sight and despite her mum not approving, Jean says nothing was going to keep them apart and they spent three months plotting how they were going to get hitched in secret.
She added: “The trip to Scotland was my first time on a motorbike. We went up there to get around marriage laws.
“My mum was very strict and she would not let me go anywhere. It was definitely a real adventure.
“My husband had bought the bike in 1955 and we got married the following year.
“We came back after getting married and stayed with Bob’s parents.
“We sold the bike as we only had £5 in our pocket – which we gave her towards food – but somehow we managed to get it back 40 years later.”
“Because of what it means to us, the bike is certainly our most prized possession. We are so lucky to get it back.”
When they bought the bike in 1956 it cost them £22 but it is now valued at £5,000.
Jean added: “It was love at first sight. He said when he first saw me knew he was going to marry me.
“When we came back lots of people said it would never work and we have proved them all wrong.
“We didn’t tell a soul. Bob sent postcard to his mum telling her he was on holiday but didn’t buy a stamp so she had to pay to receive it.
”My mother called the police who went round to Bob’s mum’s house but once we reached Scotland there was nothing they could do.”
They spent three weeks in Scotland before they were allowed to marry and eventually did so on October 15 1956.
Jean added: “We are just as in love as the day we married. I could not do without him.”
Bob Smith said he used the end of a flat screwdriver to scratch the love note into the inside of the crankcase.
He said: “I used the end of a screwdriver to scratch it in and it was only this note that confirmed it was ours.
“Everything else had been lost. There was no number plate or logbook. The bike was all in bits. The note was the only thing that meant we could identify it as our original bike.
“We only realised after we had bought it and it was a great shock.”
The runaways planned to get married at Gretna Green, Dumfriesshire, but it was full with other couples wanting to wed.
They eventually tied the knot at nearby Annan Town Hall.