...both available as Kindle Books on Amazon.
Graham is also a reviewer and, because no budding author should ever give up his day job...
...continues to work as the manager of a busy wedding venue near Gretna Green, in Scotland, a place he thought you might enjoy hearing about.
Gretna Green first became popular for weddings in 1754, when couples learned of the different laws in
which permitted people to marry at the age of 16 without parental consent. English couples then “ran away” to Scotland to be married. Scotland
With Gretna Green being the southernmost town in
, it was the first port of call for the eloping couples. The ceremonies which took place were performed by the local blacksmiths who were held in high regard by the local community as they made most of the daily wares used in that era. Scotland
Often the ceremonies would take place in the blacksmiths' workshops over their anvils.
That way, their work wouldn't be interrupted for too long.
Many angry fathers gave chase to the couples, and tales abound of ceremonies delayed while the bride and groom hid until the father had left.
In some cases the young lovers would leap into the blacksmith’s bed in the room next door, prompting the apoplectic father to think he was too late and storm off. After a suitable wait the proceedings would recommence.
A change in the law came in 1857, when Lord Brougham’s bill stated that the bride and groom must take a three week “cooling off” period prior to the wedding. While this reduced the number of elopements, the more determined lovers came anyway and sought work on the local farms for the three weeks.
In 1977, the next change in the law was that the three week “cooling off” period was abolished. A new system was introduced whereby the couples must give a minimum of 14 days written notice to Gretna Registration Office of their intent to marry within the parish.
And that put a dampener on the whole business.
In 2002, the law changed yet again, this time allowing registrars to come out of the registration office to perform civil ceremonies. The first civil ceremony to take place in
outside a registration office took place at The Mill Forge. Scotland
Today there are a number of different wedding venues and wedding tourism has become the town’s main industry. Weddings are estimated to bring the local economy a whopping £21 million per annum, and each year, over three thousand couples come to
Gretna Green to be married.
In 1915, within half-a-mile of the town. a railroad signalman forgot to advise the engineer of a troop train, that a local train had stopped ahead of him on the same track.
The error had deadly results. The resulting collision caused the troop train to catch fire.
The troop train was packed with soldiers bound for Gallipoli, and the carriages were locked to prevent desertion. Then, to make things worse, a third train hauling empty coal carriages collided with the wreckage of the first two.
Anecdotal reports say the soldiers who escaped from the train turned their rifles on their trapped comrades in an effort to spare them from further suffering.
The event went down in history as the Quintinshill rail disaster.
In total 226 people lost their lives on that fateful morning. To date no other
rail disaster has claimed more lives. UK
World War I had another impact on the area as well. The nearby
grew up to house workers at a munitions factory built to service the needs of the British troops. township of Gretna
It grew to be the largest in the world, and its rapid expansion, coupled with a need to house all of the workers, caused Gretna to become the first town in the UK to receive formal town planning.
Quite a lot of history, don't you think, for a little town along the border between England and Scotland?