Gretna project proves unique ‘Experience’ for Mather & Co

RESTORATION and repair work at the original Famous Blacksmiths Shop was completed ahead of the opening of the new Gretna Green Experience, which showcases the love stories of those who wed at the famous location.

Manchester-based Mather & Co has been responsible for all design, management and production of the exhibition and retail area – including repairs to and restoration of the Famous Blacksmiths Shop.

Kim Kherlopian, project director at Mather & Co, explained, “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.”

Gretna Green has been welcoming weddings for over 260 years, following the introduction of the 1754 Marriage Act in England, which meant couples had to be 21 years of age to marry without the consent of their parents. 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, so many young couples fled over the border to be married at the first place they encountered – the blacksmith’s shop in Gretna Green.

Today, the visitor attraction is more than just a wedding venue. People go there to get married, dine, stay overnight, visit the museum and courtship maze, or shop.

Sarah Clarke, MD at Mather & Co, added, “To be part of the redevelopment of a much-loved and historic family business has been a real honour. People who visit this place can now experience that incredible history brought to life for the next generation of elopers and romantics.”

The Gretna Green Experience tells the history of the Famous Blacksmiths Shop and a timeline showcases the history of marriage at Gretna Green – dating back to 1200.

In addition to the new experience, visitors can wander around the historic rooms of the original Famous Blacksmiths Shop. Original objects including marriage registers, furniture, and the wedding dress of Dorothy Bell (grandmother of the owner) all feature. 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.

Isabel Rhodes, chief executive at Gretna Green, said, “It’s been a pleasure working with the Mather & Co team over the past few years to develop this unique storytelling experience. The senior team at Gretna Green and Mather have put their heart and soul into creating this leading visitor attraction for visitors from across the world.”