1935 Hay’s runaway Marriage

Gretna Smiddy

Gretna Smiddy

Elizabeth Hay was born in 1915 in Blantyre. When she was 20 years old, a bold and remarkable event in her life is worth retelling.

Elizabeth was 20 years old in 1935 and on 2nd June 1935, she left her home in Stonefield Road and took a Summer bus tour with her boyfriend William R Brown (24), a miner. Elizabeth was a maid employed in the Hairmyres Colony, East Kilbride.

The young couple left on Sunday 2nd June 1935 on the motor-coach drive, organized a local association. It sped down south to Carlisle and in returning it called in via Gretna Green, for tourists to marvel at the prettiness of the place.

Elizabeth and William left the bus, and found themselves at the famous blacksmith’s shop where young lovers were known to runaway and get married. The smiddy is pictured in this modern photo, which is largely unchanged and as it would have looked in Elizabeth’s day.

As the tourists gazed at this excellent tourist attraction, perhaps caught up in the day and romanticism of it all, Elizabeth and William decided there, on the spot to get married. The minister was already there, there was an available slot, so they went ahead and called upon local witnesses. The coach driver however wasn’t impressed and refused to wait until the ceremony was performed. Nothing daunted, the lovers went through with the marriage. After the ceremony they telephoned to Glasgow for a bus to take them back. Fortunately a London bus bound for Glasgow was due and two hours after the ceremony they arrived home in Blantyre shortly before midnight. The first the young man’s parents knew of the marriage was when he walked into his parents’ house with his young bride Miss Hay who told local reporters on the following Tuesday,”My parents don’t know of the marriage yet!”

If Elizabeth Brown is still alive today, she would be 100. I’m hoping her family know of this story and recognise this tale and perhaps able to add some more of what became of William and Elizabeth’s life.

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