Making robes for the king and riding tandem to Bournemouth, the remarkable life of 100-year-old Rugby woman Vera

Vera Bearyman
Vera Bearyman
  • Vera worked at John Lewis in the 1930s - and was the first person to leave the company
  • She met her husband at a cheese counter - he was looking for someone to ride his tandem with him
  • They rode to Bournemouth on the tandem

A dressmaker who worked on the robes for King George VI’s coronation has celebrated her 100th birthday – and she’s still handy with a needle.

Vera Bearyman, who lives in Arden Close, Rugby, marked the milestone with a party with friends and family on Sunday.

“I must have made hundreds of wedding dresses over the years – it’s a wonder my husband ever got any dinner as I was at it day and night”

Vera Bearyman

Vera was born in London on March 8 1915. She moved to Rugby 11 years ago to be closer to her son, Philip.

The talented dressmaker began her career as an apprentice at John Lewis in Oxford Street, London.

“It was smashing and I really enjoyed it but it was hard work and you really had to get on,” she said.

Vera worked at the flagship store for ten years until she left in 1939. “I was the first person to ever walk out of John Lewis – people just didn’t do it,” she said.

“I picked up my needles and scissors and said ‘I’m going’. I was fed up of it and it was very hard work.”

Vera worked on the robes for George VI’s coronation and said it was something she would never forget.

Vera said: “After John Lewis I started making dresses for a company that used machines. I wasn’t earning much money but then they sat me down with a needle and thread and I really took off. I got a double bonus for the amount I did that week.

“I must have made hundreds of wedding dresses over the years – it’s a wonder my husband ever got any dinner as I was at it day and night.”

She married her husband, Ernest, in 1939 and they had a son, Philip, who lives in Rugby. She has two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Speaking of when she first met Ernest, Vera said: “We met at the cheese counter in the Co-op in London. He rode a tandem bike and was looking for someone to go on the back of it and I volunteered. That was that really.

“We married at St Lawrence Church in Hackney in 1939 and we went on holiday to Bournemouth on that tandem. We rode the whole way and stayed for two weeks. Those were the days, we went everywhere on that bike.”

Vera was a keen cyclist and travelled miles with a cycling club when she was younger.

“I had a wonderful life when I was younger. We cycled all over and had the time of our lives, it’s kept me young.

“I still do a bit of needlework now for friends and neighbours. It’s the sort of thing you never lose.”