In August 1949, pretty 24-year-old Mary Limerick said farewell to her widowed mother at 42 Stonefield Crescent, High Blantyre, and set out to seek her fortune in Australia.
She was barely a day on the high seas before she encountered romance.
On Saturday 20th August 1949, her mother received a cable saying Mary was married to a young Highland emigrant, James Bickerstaff, whom she met aboard the liner.
Mary formerly worked in the bakery department of Blantyre Co-operative Society. Stationed with the W.R.N.S. for a year in Sydney during the war,“she was greatly taken on with life in Australia“.
She decided Sydney held better prospects for her than did Blantyre. On July 8 Mary emigrated. She had no particular friends in Australia, but there was a job waiting for her in Sydney. She joined the liner at Tilbury Docks, London. Dash Ashore To Wed Travelling on the same ship to Australia was the young Highlander, James Bickerstaff. They became friendly. A few days later James proposed, and Mary accepted. They arranged to marry at the first available opportunity.
After an interview with the ship’s chief officers they were granted permission to leave the liner Perth, Western Australia. There they hurried to a registrar and the knot was tied. The newly-weds had just time to have luncheon celebration before returning to the ship. As a result of her marriage the Blantyre girl did not go Sydney as she’d intended. She left the ship when it docked at Melbourne, and she intended obtaining a job there. That was only a temporary arrangement, however, as her husband carried on to Victoria, where a job awaited him with the Victoria State Electricity Commission. Husband and wife were at the time 200 miles apart, but when Mr Bickerstaff obtained the option on a house, they were reunited. Mr. Bickerstaff worked in Glasgow for a few years before deciding to go to Australia. During the war he was a sergeant instructor in the Royal Air Force.
However, the pull of Scotland always was on her mind. Mary did indeed see her mother again. After having a daughter Morag, they both moved back to Blantyre. They had 2 more children, Alan and Ross. They lived in Teviot Way in Blantyre, not far from where her mother lived. Sadly, Mary passed away on 1st January 1988 and Jimmy on 22nd March 2012. The story of this lovely romance was read at Jimmy’s funeral.