Celebration for diamond Harrogate couple

Ken and June Baxter on their wedding day - June 5 1954. (S)
Ken and June Baxter on their wedding day - June 5 1954. (S)

Today is an historic celebration for a Harrogate family who can trace their lineage back through 13 generations.

Ken and June Baxter, who are commemorating 60 years of marriage with their diamond anniversary today, are able to follow the Baxter name all the way back in history to before 1550 - during the reign of Edward VI and before Elizabeth I was 20 years old.

Since that time the Baxter family have lived in Harrogate, and with Ken and June’s four children and nine grandchildren the long line continues.

Though the couple had seen each other during the regular dances at the Lounge Hall, their first official meeting was on July 15, 1952 - a time June remembers fondly.

She said: “I was playing tennis in the Valley Gardens with my friend when Ken asked if we would like to join him for a beverage at the Salt Box on Otley Road. Our first proper date together was at the café near Birk Crag.”

In the years following, the pair has shared many happy memories. June said her favourite time was when they bought their first house together on Regent Street, but Ken’s best memory was of their wedding day at St Peter’s Church, on June 5, 1954.

“We stopped the traffic on Cambridge Road and then had our reception at Café Imperial, now Bettys,” he said.

Ken started working at the Gas Board on James Street before he met June and he retired in 1989, while June joined the Inland Revenue in 1947 before working at Harrogate Library from 1970 to 1990.

The Baxters raised four sons who now have families of their own, and the Baxter family history continues to grow.

It was, however, a relatively recent discovery that highlighted the family’s long held residency in Harrogate.

Their son Michael took part in a genealogy course in 2006 after hearing so many tales from his mother, who he said has a remarkable memory for family names and events.

He then published a family tree dating back to the 1800s and it wasn’t until Peter Baxter - a fifth cousin - made contact that they realised their history was much more deep-rooted.

Peter’s research of early family wills goes all the way back to a John Baxter who died in 1578 and lived in Goldsborough.

Residency was also taken up at Riggs House on Monkton Moor, Cayton Gill Farm in South Stainley, and Crimple Farm in Bilton by following generations.

Digging into the past, the family has uncovered some interesting stories and fascinating characters.

A charitable example is William Baxter, who was born in 1653 and was overseer to the poor of Bilton and left a rent charge of £1 a year to support Knaresborough’s poor.

Another relative was Thomas Baxter, born in 1741, who had a lime kiln near Monkton Moor and founded the South Stainley Methodist Society.

And Richard Baxter, born in 1894, who was from Killinghall, was Harrogate’s first recipient of the Military Medal in 1916 and went on to land in Normandy in 1944 to help organise the prisoner of war camps.

With such an established lineage in the Harrogate district, the Baxters have their own views on why they have stayed for so long.

June said: “Harrogate is a beautiful town, surrounded by lovely countryside and we’ve always played and explored it without fear.”

Asked for his favourite thing about the town, Ken said: “Having the freedom to visit the Valley Gardens, Pine Woods and Stray with our four children and nine grandchildren.”

l Share your stories with the news team: email news@harrogateadvertiser.co.uk or call 01423 564321