(Greatna) is a village in Dumfries and Galloway
Because they are near the Anglo-Scottish border, nearby Gretna Green, and to a lesser extent Gretna, are historically linked to weddings because of the more liberal marriage laws in Scotland.
Geography and administration
Gretna is in Dumfries and Galloway, in the south of Scotland, on the A74(M)
near the border to England
, and near the mouth of the River Esk
. The township is distinct from the smaller nearby village of Gretna Green, famous for marriages, which borders but is a separate area from Gretna proper. To the West in Scotland are Eastriggs
(about 5 miles to the West) and Annan
(about 8 miles to the West), both situated on the B721 and linked to the nearby A75
Gretna means "(place at the) gravelly hill", from Old English greot
" (in the dative
form greoten (which is where the -n comes from)" and hoh
"hill-spur". The name is equivalent to modern-day Gravelly Hill
The village was notable for HM Factory, Gretna
, codenamed Moorside
, a huge cordite munitions
factory built nearby on the shore of Solway Firth
to supply ammunition to British forces during World War I
. The factory, the biggest munitions factory ever built, stretched for nine miles from Eastriggs along the Solway coast as far as Longtown in England and two miles across. The factory took 10,000 navvies
to build it, and employed 30,000 workers, mostly women. The workers mixed by hand a devil’s porridge
of nitro-glycerine and guncotton into cordite paste, and loaded the extruded cordite strands into shell cases.
Gretna and Eastriggs were built to house the workforce, and many were accommodated nearby in Carlisle. When 5,000 workers arrived back by train to Carlisle, one publican had 1,000 whiskies lined up! The labourers and workers had such a reputation for drunkenness that Gretna and the surrounding area became one of the few places in the UK to come under the jurisdiction of the Defence of the Realm Act 1914 (DORA) passed by Lloyd George's government.
DORA was used by Winston Churchill in 1916 to bring the liquor industry, including Public Houses (Pubs) and Breweries, under Government control over a wide area, as far as Carlisle and Maryport. Spiritless Saturdays, buying anyone else a drink (shouting), and heaters and coolers (drinking beer and spirits in the same pub) were all banned. The pub landlords, now civil servants, were instructed to follow a disinterested management policy and not allow people to get drunk in the pubs. It was not until the early 1970s that the government enterprise was sold off.
Much of the local economy is driven by the marriage
industry at Gretna Green, where, by some accounts, as many as one of every six Scottish weddings takes place. Some marriages take place in Gretna itself, at the Register office
in the centre of the township.
Gretna was also the official home of Gretna Football Club, who played in the Scottish Premier League during the 2007–2008 season, the club playing 'home' games at Fir Park, Motherwell. Mounting financial problems saw the club relegated from the SPL at the end of the season, then demoted to Division 3 of the Scottish Football League. After attempts to find a buyer for the club proved fruitless, Gretna finally resigned from the SFL on June 3, 2008. A new club, Gretna FC 2008 has been founded in its place but currently plays its games in Annan, with the hope of one day moving back to Gretna.
- Routledge, Gordon L. (1999).Gretna’s Secret War.
- Ordnance Survey Landranger Map (number 85) - 1:50,000 scale (1.25 inches to 1 mile). ISBN 0-319-22685-9.
- Ordnance Survey Explorer Map (number 323) - 1:25,000 scale (2.5 inches to 1 mile)