We think of dating agencies as a recent invention, but Britain’s first marriage bureau was opened in 1939 by two forward-thinking women.

Penrose Halson, who took over the agency in the 90s, reveals how matchmaking back then involved a whole lot more than just swiping right Outside the offices of the Marriage Bureau dating agency in London’s Bond Street, 1952.

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“Years ago when people got to their fifties they'd start thinking it was pipe and slippers time," says Paula Hall from relationship counsellors Relate.

"But increasing longevity means people have more time up their sleeves now, and they're thinking more about what they really want to do with that time."notes that “over-50 is one of the biggest areas of divorce now,'' presumably as people realise ''they still have a lot of life, a long life to live.' Unlike previous generations who ''did not have options,'' today's older dating population seem to have nothing but opportunity.

Lisa says ''now that online dating is so accepted, it is the standard way to really meet people.

Dating over 50 is just the same as dating at 20 when it comes to how people think about it.” She goes on to say “the best way for sure to meet people is online dating, because that is where you are going to find the most single people available all day, all night.” This is due to the fact that “there is no natural congregating place for people over 50 except online.

Co-founder Heather Jenner knew that parents worried if their daughters remained single after the age of about 20A suitable marriage at 19 was what was expected of her, to be followed by children, housekeeping and entertaining in furtherance of her husband’s career.

But Heather was feeling her way towards a less subservient existence.

And owner of Unique Dating Agency Eamon Mc Auley says he’s hoping to provide a “service missing in Northern Ireland for genuine, honest people looking for help in the dating scene, for people of all sexualities”.

A recent survey revealed that 72% of people in Northern Ireland find meeting the right type of person to be the biggest dating challenge, with potential dates lying about their age, job and appearance cited as part of the problem.

Yet, despite the numbers, past a certain age it does become difficult to meet new singles, especially if you are part of a mostly-married group of friends.

Consequentially, more older people than ever before are turning to advanced matchmaking websites such as Elite Singles to find a relationship with genuine compatibility.

Membership costs £250 for six months, with a refundable £30 registration fee upon commencement of your membership.