The North West-based firm, which specialises in museum, leisure, retail and entertainment experiences, will work with the Gretna Green team to develop the current weddings and visitor offer, ensuring the best facilities for anvil weddings is maintained, at the historical venue and visitor attraction. Mather & Co will also develop the retail space into a new experiential retail destination, capitalising on its history and heritage.
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. Previously no consent was required if you were above the age of 16.
In Scotland, a couple as young as 12 and 14 (girls and boys respectively) only had to declare their intentions to be husband and wife in the presence of two witnesses, so many young couples fled to the first village over the border, Gretna Green, and its Famous Blacksmiths Shop to be married.
Alasdair Houston, Chairman of Gretna Green Ltd says of the development: “We have a rich heritage at Gretna Green which celebrates love, romance and the spirit of beautiful rebellion. Our story is full of passion, daring elopements and love ‘finding a way’ despite the legal shenanigans that are so important to the history of Scotland and England. We want to ensure that the fascinating story of Gretna Green is told in a way that is engaging and inspiring.
“My family has been living and working here since my great grandfather’s purchase of the Gretna Estate in 1885. Ever since, we have done our best to ensure that Gretna Green stays as relevant and compelling as ever. This next chapter heralds a new beginning for the way we tell our unique story and excite our ever-expanding global market, ensuring Brand Gretna Green is one of the best recognised in Scotland.”
Isabel Rhodes, Commercial Director at Gretna Green, said: “We selected Mather & Co for this project following an international design competition, as their understanding and vision for what is required was unrivalled. We want to enhance the experience of visiting Gretna Green for the millions of local, national and international tourists that visit the site each year, and Mather & Co has the skills and experience to do just that.
“We can’t wait to see the reimagined site in the flesh, and hope to welcome visitors to the updated attraction. The complete site upgrade will give those interested in British history and hopeless romantics even more reason to visit Gretna Green, while it will be a pleasant change for the thousands who regularly return to celebrate their wedding anniversaries.”
Sarah Clarke, managing director at Mather & Co, said: “We’re thrilled to have won this unique project against international competition. Gretna Green is such a significant destination in British history and we intend to maintain its position as a must-visit attraction in the UK. Refreshing the attraction and reflecting its heritage is an exciting prospect and one we relished when approaching the brief. We plan to keep the magic and history of the runaway wedding at the heart of our redevelopment, while making the Blacksmiths Shop and Museum an exciting destination to visit for those who aren’t lucky enough to be tying the knot on the day too.”