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Tuesday, 28 July 2015

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Trip to see where grandparents wed

REMEMBER our romantic tale of the young Norwegian couple who were married three miles out at sea off the coast of Whitehaven, aboard a paddle steamer called the Borwick Rails?

It all happened 100 years ago but now Inger Berg, the 63-year-old grandaughter of that couple, has been to Whitehaven with her husband Per Oscar to see where the events of family legend had occurred.

In May 1911, Karoline Schulz, 27, had sailed from her home town in Kragerø, on the south-eastern Norwegian coast, to meet up with and marry her sweetheart Capt Amund Schrøder. The couple did not fulfil the residence conditions to be married on British soil but could be married, by a minister, three miles out at sea, which would be accepted as legal back home. Capt Schrøder, 31, was captain of the SS Riim and could not return home for his nuptials.

The local Presbyterian minister, the Rev Matthew Young, performed the ceremony before several witnesses, including William McGowan, then proprietor of The Whitehaven News.

The Whitehaven News of June 1 1911, told how the on-board service had included an interpreter and took place beyond the three-mile limit where “one is in no country’’. A wedding breakfast was afterwards held at the Grand Hotel.

It turns out the Schrøders went on to have six children, the third of whom, Martha Eleanor Schrøder, was Inger’s mother. She married (to Finn Tallberg) and had two girls. There are now 11 grandchildren, most of whom joined Inger last month for a family reunion at Tromsø to mark their grandparents 100th anniversary. One of these 11 is the Norwegian ambassador in London.

Inger and Per Oscar, a pastor in the Norwegian seaman’s church, have kept the line going with two sons and two daughters themselves and seven grandchildren. Their daughter Hilde Chapman works in London, at the Norwegian Embassy, and the Bergs took the opportunity of a visit to Hilde and her family, to journey up to Cumbria and see Whitehaven.

Inger herself is a secondary school teacher and has used her fascinating family story, and the research we helped her unearth, to engage with her pupils.


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