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Wedding site given £1.5m relaunch

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By Fiona Reid
Annan and Eskdale
Wedding site given £1.5m relaunch

A £1.5 million visitor attraction was officially opened in Gretna Green yesterday — with special tributes paid to the man who helped make it a reality.

The Houston family welcomed guests, officials, tourism experts and ‘influencers’ to the Famous Blacksmiths’ Shop for the launch of their new Gretna Green Experience, which has been three years in the making.

The historic wedding site has been refurbished and redesigned with an immersive audio experience for visitors.

Gretna Green Ltd chairman John Hammond described it as “an important step forward for our business” and expressed hopes it would help the local economy and the tourism sector in its post covid recovery.

He added: “After 270 years of people getting married here, the time is right to offer a more engaging opportunity for our visitors.”

Susan Houston is the fourth generation of her family to be involved with the business and shared their story with those present.

And she said: “It’s an exciting day for us all today in the business.

“Would my great grandfather, Hugh Mackie, have ever dreamed four generations later we would still be farming here in Gretna Green and welcoming brides and visitors to this special village on the border of Scotland?”

Meanwhile, Lucy Houston gave a moving tribute to her late husband Alasdair, who was a driving force in the business and the new development before he died last year, aged just 59.

She said: “His huge amount of energy and attention to detail helped develop the business and make it the success it is today.

“He loved everything about Gretna Green. His vision drove so much of what you see today.”

The ribbon on the new museum, and a celebratory anvil cake, were then cut by Susan, Lucy and her children Tara and Rafe.

The launch event also featured Highland dancing displays, bagpipers, horse and carriage rides and tours of the new attraction.

The Gretna Green Experience is now open to visitors.

 

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