Final wedding at register office — after 36,000 ceremonies!

LAST WALTZ -- the final couple to be married at the register office, Stephen Matthews and Alison Bell
LAST WALTZ -- the final couple to be married at the register office, Stephen Matthews and Alison Bell

A VEIL has been officially drawn over weddings at Basford Register Office — after 56 years and more than 36,000 ceremonies.

The historic venue, which is actually in Bulwell on Highbury Road, is to be converted by owner Notts County Council into a centre for the storage of births, deaths and marriages records dating back to 1837.

The honour of becoming the last couple to tie the knot at the register office fell to Stephen Matthews and Alison Bell, who exchanged vows during the venue’s final day on Thursday last week.

Stephen and Alison, of Old Basford, got together in 1996 but have known each other for more than 30 years. They wanted to get married at the register office the day after it was due to close for weddings but managed to bring the ceremony forward.

They have now followed in the footsteps of thousands of couples before them, including world-famous West Indies cricket all-rounder Sir Gary Sobers, who married Australian Pru Kirby there in 1969 while he was on the books of Notts CCC.

IT consultant Stephen (53), who proposed on Christmas Day fully six years ago, said: “It is strange to think that we are the final couple to get married at Basford Register Office and, in some ways, it makes the day even more special.”

The couple were presented with a special plaque to commemorate the occasion and had photos taken with staff.

Alison (47) is a full-time mum to Jessica (13) and 11-year-old twins Laura and Daniel, who are children from Stephen’s previous marriage. She added: “We had no idea until we arranged our wedding that it would be the last one at the register office. It came as a big surprise.

“We had a lovely wedding. With it being the final one there, it was quite an emotional occasion. The weather was beautiful and the staff were very helpful.”

The register office opened in 1969. As a records office, it will make it easier for residents of Nottinghamshire to register births, deaths, marriages and civil partnerships.

It will also manage requests for duplicate certificates and pave the way for a family-history service.