"You didn't need pals. We always had each other": Britain's oldest twins, 104, reveal secret to a long life

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They have seen 22 different prime ministers and the coronation of three monarchs.

Britain's oldest twins says a daily drop of brandy is the secret to their long lives. Elma Harris and Thelma Barratt, 104, were born half an hour apart in Stockport in August 1919.

They were just 19 when World War Two broke out and have seen 22 different prime ministers and the coronation of three monarchs. Now living together at Pear Tree House Care Home, in Wesham, Lancashire, the sisters attributed their youthful outlook to their favourite tipples.

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Elma, who enjoys a brandy and a lemonade at night, said: "If you feel young, you stay young."

Sisters Elma and Thelma who are Britain's oldest twins aged 104Sisters Elma and Thelma who are Britain's oldest twins aged 104
Sisters Elma and Thelma who are Britain's oldest twins aged 104 | Tony Barratt / SWNS

At the age of 14 the sisters started working as packers and labellers at Smiths Crisps after asking if there were any jobs going on the way home from school. They gave up work when they got married at 21, just three months apart. Elma married Bill Hewitt, a joiner and Thelma married Joseph Barratt, a hatter, just as World War Two started.

Elma was called up to work at Fairey Aviation's factory, making parts for the RAF during the war. Thelma's husband was captured in Italy and became a prisoner of war at the same camp as Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader, famed for losing his legs while attempting aerobatics.

In 1959, Thelma and Joe became the landlord and landlady of a pub in their hometown of Stockport, but left when their son Tony was a few months old. Asked what was the best part of being twins, the sisters said it was always having each other for company.

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Thelma (left) and Elma. Picture: Tony Barratt/SWNSThelma (left) and Elma. Picture: Tony Barratt/SWNS
Thelma (left) and Elma. Picture: Tony Barratt/SWNS | Tony Barratt/SWNS

Elma, a great-grandmother-of-six, said: "You didn't need pals. We always had each other." However, the twins said they didn't always get along as well as they do now and were close to "scratching one another's eyes out sometimes" in their younger days. Elma's first husband Bill died soon after the war, while Thelma's husband Joe worked as a hatter in Stockport.

Thelma told the BBC: "He worked for the hat trade and if he was caught without his hat, he got fined half a crown. Many a time when we were courting I would find myself whisked down an entry because he'd seen them in the distance."

The sisters said they always enjoyed a good night out, and would trawl around town looking for new dresses to wear.

Thelma added: "We look at each other and say, 'Who'd have thought we'd live to be this age?' We didn't, but we're still here."

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