Attractions industry news

10 May 2022

Mather & Co-designed Gretna Green Experience opens to the public

A visitor attraction celebrating the history of the Scottish parish of Gretna Green – and its heritage as a destination for 'runaway marriages – has opened to the public.

Gretna Green, located just inside Scotland on the border with England, first became famous for its weddings nearly 260 years ago, following the Clandestine Marriages Act 1753.

The act prevented couples under the age of 21 from marrying in England or Wales without their parents' consent.

In Scotland, a couple over the age of 16 only had to declare their intentions to be husband and wife in the presence of two witnesses. This led to couples crossing the border to Gretna, the first village on what was then the main road to Edinburgh – a tradition that continues to this day.

Designed by Maher & Co, the Gretna Green Experience will allow visitors to step into a "story of romance, rebellion, and unstoppable love".

The £1.5m attraction includes an exhibition and retail area and is located within the original Famous Blacksmiths Shop, which has been restored as part of the works.

Kim Kherlopian, project director at Mather & Co, said: “Working on Gretna Green has been a very unique experience for us because the building itself is one of a kind.

"Depicting the vast amount of stories and rich history that has passed through the building certainly was a challenge.

"We had to capture the pure essence of Gretna Green and all the romantic adventures that took place there without relying on objects to tell these stories.”

The Experience allows visitors to get up close to original objects including marriage registers.

In the centre of the experience, visitors are immersed in a 360-degree audio-visual film, ‘The Unbreakable Bond’, that brings the history of the site to life around the original anvil.

There are 13 audio-visual experiences in total for visitors at the home of romance.

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