The former owner of a Hastings business – that has been in the town since 1881 – and his wife celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary today (Thursday, October 15).
Clive and Pat Upton, of Fairlight Avenue, were married in All Saints Church in 1955 when they were 21 and 19 respectively.
The 81-year-old former car upholsterer took over his father Alfred’s business, Upton’s, when he was 18.
The business can be traced back to Clive’s great-grandfather Harry, who worked as a coach trimmer in the Old Town 134 years ago.
Now Clive’s son David runs CA Upton & Sons making him the fifth generation to repair car seats and interiors.
The pair actually met while watching wrestling on Hastings pier and Pat said they have had a ‘very happy life’.
“My very close friend, who was my bridesmaid and still friends after 69 years which is incredible, still see each other every week, she knew this chap who was Clive’s friend and it started from there.
“There have been ups and downs, good and bad, lots of good though. We’re lucky, we’ve got a fantastic family, only the two children David and Sue, brilliant children, four lovely grandchildren.
“Lots of friends and lots of fun over the years, we’ve had a very happy life.”
Clive’s business has been based all over Hastings but when he took it over he worked in The Stables theatre before it hosted pantomime.
He said he used to wave at Pat from the workshop when she got the bus to school.
He moved from there to a workshop in North Street and then to an old sweet factory on Victoria Avenue before David moved it to Armstrong Close in St Leonards.
It could have been very different though as there were times when Upton’s could have closed.
“I went to the grammar school and my dad was looking at my results of my exams and said, ‘you don’t have to do car upholstery anyway’,” Clive said.
“But I said, ‘Dad, I want to do it’.”
Clive was also offered a job at Barclays but he turned that down to continue the family firm.
Then David was going to do quantity surveying at the local college but he decided to go in with Clive.
But now it seems Upton’s will not continue past the current generation.
“He’s had a long history of business but it’s changed so much, one time he used to do a lot of seat repairs but now seats in cars don’t wear out,” Pat said.
“It’s sad because it’s not carrying on as Upton.
“It’s a shame because David has had stuff sent over from abroad.”
One thing that has stuck with Clive is his time in the armed forces before the business.
“Clive was a motor upholsterer, as was his father before him and his grandfather before that and David is the fourth generation,” Pat said.
“Sadly his father got lung cancer and Clive was doing his national service you had to do when you were 18.”
“With the Royal Sussex Regiment, 32710596,” Clive added.
“One thing he can remember is his Army number,” Pat said.
Clive replied: “You have to remember that.”
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