‘A World on Wings: Women Munitions Workers and Movies in World War 1’

A talk at the Devil’s Porridge Museum on February 1st at 7pm

£3 per person – no need to book, just pay on the evening.

The talk will focus on the provision of cinema for female workers and the controversies surrounding leisure and work at HM Factory, Gretna.  It will be delivered by Dr Chris Brader and has been organised as part of the Museum’s Love in Wartime Season.  The cinema has long been a place for couples to go on dates and the cinemas in the townships built for the workers at the Factory were patrolled by the women’s police force.  This talk will also mark the return of cinema to Eastriggs as we will be showing films at the Devil’s Porridge in 2019.

Dr. Chris Brader is the author of ‘Timbertown Girls: Borders Women and the First World War. He holds a doctorate from the University of Warwick. He previously taught history at Lancaster University and worked for Cumbria Archives.

Call for papers

Conference: The Contribution of the Commonwealth to World War One and World War Two.

During World War One, His Majesty’s Factory Gretna was the greatest munitions factory on earth.  Nine miles long and two miles wide, it employed 30,000 people at its height.

In 2018, the Devil’s Porridge Museum, Eastriggs will be celebrating the contribution of the workers who came from all over the Empire to contribute to the war effort.  Explosives experts from South African diamond mines, chemists from New Zealand and Australia, Canadian engineers, 10,000 navvies mainly from Ireland and J C Burnham, the Superintendent of the Factory who travelled from India: all came to the aid of their mother country and its war effort in Gretna.  K B Quinan, one of the leaders of the factory project, had worked with Cecil Rhodes in South Africa and Lloyd George himself commented in the House of Commons: “It would be hard to point to anyone who did more to win the war than Kenneth Bingham Quinan.”

The legacy of World War One lives on in Eastriggs not just in the Museum itself but in the street names such as “Delhi Road” “Melbourne Avenue” “Singapore Road”.  Eastriggs is officially the Commonwealth Village and we are inviting papers on the theme the Commonwealth Contribution to World War One and World War Two for a conference to be held at our 5 star, award winning Museum on Saturday May 18th 2019.

If you would like to present a paper please send an abstract of no more than 250 words together with a brief biographical note to: manager@devilsporridge.org.uk

Deadline for abstracts is January 31st 2018

Themes to address include, but are not restricted to, the following:

  • The involvement of people from the Empire/Commonwealth in the armed forces during either World War: this could include groups of people or individuals
  • The contribution of people from the Empire/Commonwealth to the Home Front in either World War
  • Campaigns which involved notable numbers of service personnel from the Commonwealth such as Gallipoli
  • The impact of either World War within Empire/Commonwealth countries during the conflict
  • The legacy of either World War within Commonwealth countries
  • Propaganda, recruitment and attitudes to war within Empire/Commonwealth countries 1900-1945
  • Race, racism, colonialism, and Imperialism:  experiences and identities of colonised people during World War One
  • His Majesty’s Factory Gretna and the role played by members of the Commonwealth here
  • Migration during and after the World Wars

The Devil’s Porridge Museum, Annan Road, Eastriggs, Scotland, DG12 6TF


Object of the Month: December

Objects to do with Christmas in World War One.

Christmas postcards.

Old box with Christmas gifts for soldiers given by the Royal Family.

Certificate given to children who had raised money for soldiers and their money was used to send gifts.

This display was put together by our new work experience student Łukasz Walkusz.





http://start.at/nevit Nevit Dilmen


Christmas Party for kids

Meet Santa and his elves

Get a present

Enjoy Christmas foods

Play games

Dance to Christmas songs

Saturday December 15th, 2-4pm

Everyone welcome

£3 per child

Accompanying adults are welcome to stay for free


November’s object of the month

Each month, we showcase a different object from our Museum store.  Visitors to the Museum will be able to see this object on display throughout November 2018.

Object of the Month

November 2018

Government issue toilet paper

Many people may remember this sort of toilet paper (it is sort of like tracing paper).

Each sheet of this toilet paper is stamped with the words


It probably came from inside a government building or office.

If anyone knows more about this sort of toilet paper do tell us as we would be interested to know more about it.

The War is Over!

A new exhibition at the Devil’s Porridge Museum to commemorate 100 years since the Armistice.

Above: a poem from an autograph book in the Museum’s collection dates December 11th, 1918.

Our new displays explore the Armistice and its aftermath locally and nationally.  On November 11th 1918, the guns fell silent and the First World War finally came to an end.  Having completed their huge task of national importance, the munition workers at His Majesty’s Factory Gretna downed their tools and celebrated: a brass band paraded through the towns of Gretna and Eastriggs; the foreman gave a rousing speech; the munitions girls demanded a dance which 400 people attended that evening; bunting was everywhere…the War was over!

It was a wonderful day but in the weeks and months to come that elation turned to doubt and worry as the future of largest munitions factory in the world remained uncertain.  On one day in December 1918, an estimated 4-5000 people were made unemployed.  The factory workers had come from all corners of the earth to achieve victory for Britain and now they would scatter again.

Above: a dance was held on the evening of November 11th which 400 people attended.  The dance halls had been closed due to the Spanish flu but the Gretna girls repeatedly called for a dance and they eventually got their way.

The fascinating story of Armistice Day at H.M.F. Gretna, the thoughts and feelings of the workforce and the immediate aftermath of the peace for the people of this area is told in a new exhibition at the Devil’s Porridge Museum, Eastriggs.

Judith Hewitt, Museum Manager said, “We have some wonderful objects from the period on display including a medal for peace which was created in Carlisle and newspapers which were printed on November 11th 1918.  This exhibition really offers a snapshot of local life one hundred years ago.”

Chairman of the Museum Trust, Richard Brodie reflected, “The exhibition is a tribute to the 30,000 people who lived and worked in Gretna and Eastriggs and turned the tide of the War in Britain’s favour. Although most were here for less than three years, their experiences would figure large in their memory for the rest of their lives. Before they left, they recorded their tributes in two fascinating  Souvenir Magazines and wrote their notes of friendship in autograph books. Copies of these fascinating documents can be viewed by visitors.”

Armistice Weekend Tours of former Factory Site near Eastriggs

On November 10th, there will be an opportunity to take a tour (by bus) of the site of the former HMF Factory Gretna site at Eastriggs/Dornock.  A rare chance to visit what remains of the largest munitions factory of World War One with an expert guide and map provided.

Tours last an hour and must be booked and paid for in advance.

Tickets are £5 each and include a cup of tea or coffee and cake or biscuit (such as Anzac biscuits, Empire biscuits or trench cake) on return to the Devil’s Porridge.

The Museum will be open all day, normal admissions charges apply.  There will be munitions girls in costume and Tommies here on the day too.

Tours will start and finish at the Devil’s Porridge Museum, Annan Road, Eastriggs, DG12 6TF at the following times:

Tour 1: 10am – 11am

Tour 2: 11am – 12noon

Tour 3: 1pm – 2pm

Tour 4: 2pm – 3pm

At 3.15pm, to conclude the day we will be laying a wreath on our Animals at War memorial.

To book your place:

Email info@devilsporridge.org.uk or phone 01461 700021.  This will reserve your ticket and you can pay on the day.

Or pop in to the Museum to pay and collect your ticket in person.


Talk: 1918: the Year of Victory

How and why did the First World War end in 1918? On November 7th at 7.30pm, Stuart Eastwood of Cumbria’s Museum of Military Life will be delivering a talk at the Devil’s Porridge Museum exploring the events of that momentous time one hundred years ago.
No prior booking is required, tickets are £3 on the door and include tea or coffee.
Hope to see you there!


October 2018 Holiday activities for children

Visitors to the Museum in October, can see some objects from the Museum’s store which haven’t been on display for years.  Find out more about our current…

Object of the Month

October 2018

Pair of boots and a Billycan found in Eastriggs

A couple of years ago, the Devil’s Porridge Museum was presented with these two objects.  They were found in the attic of a house on Delhi Road in Eastriggs (a five minute walk from the site of the current Museum).  They might not look like much but it is believed that this pair of boots and can are over one hundred years old.

They probably belonged to one of the ten thousand navvies who built the munitions factory at HM Gretna in 1915.  They also constructed the hundreds of miles of railway to distribute the munitions and the townships of Gretna and Eastriggs including the cinemas, churches, dance halls etc. for the 30,000 factory workers to use.

There aren’t many traces left of the (mainly Irish) workers who came to work on the factory during the First World War but we have an evocative trace here in this pair of boots and rusty can.

One can imagine the hardworking feet that plodded out in all weathers in these worn boots and the well earned meals that were eaten out of this can.  One can’t help wondering how they came to be left behind?

The word navvy derives from the word “navigator”.  Navvies originally built navigations (canals) in the 18th century.  They also built railways and other large scale industrial enterprises.  It is difficult to imagine how strenuous these tasks would have been without the benefits of modern technology.

The boots and can were probably used by a man like the ones in the photograph above.  They built the railways, the canals, factories and roads.  Their life was itinerant and although they don’t have many memorials, we still benefit from and use the things they created all those years ago.


Your town – create a quilt project
Starts: Sunday 28th October at 11am
An opportunity to work together to create a quilt about the local area.
Come along on Saturday morning to find out about, and take part in, the Devil’s Porridge Museum’s “Your town – create a quilt” project which will begin on Saturday October 13th at 10.30am. This project will run over several weeks.
Each participant will create one section of the quilt which will be put together into an impressive community quilt which will be on display in the Devil’s Porridge Museum.
No prior knowledge of quilting or sewing required. All resources will be provided. This is a free activity aimed at everyone: children, young people, families, adults, older people – anyone and everyone is welcome!
Prior booking is advised, to book your place please email: info@devilsporridge.org.uk or send a message via facebook. Drop ins on the day may be possible but places are limited so best to book a place.
You can stay for lunch here afterwards and enjoy a discount on the food in our cafe.
A great opportunity to learn a new skill, find out about the history of the local area, meet new people and get involved in a community art’s project.
Any questions or queries, please ask. Hope to see you there.
Your town needs you!
Community Treasure Hunt
Who will win the Munitions Cup ?
Think you know your local area?
Want to help celebrate the unique history of these towns and their connections to World War One?
Keen to carry off a trophy?
Then enter the Gretna, Eastriggs and Longtown Community Treasure Hunt and find clues to unearth a secret
Treasure Hunt starts at Devil’s Porridge Museum
November 3rd , 11-2.
£1 per person. Max.5 people per team.
Email (info@devilsporridge.org.uk) or phone (01461 700021) to register your team by October 31st
Cars recommended
Open to all ages, prizes and optional refreshments for £2.50 at the end.


Object of the Month September 2018

When you visit the Museum this month you can see a new display of an object from our store.  This month’s object is:

Framed Memorial Scrolls “He died for freedom and honour.” 

These two framed scrolls commemorate the life and death of two brothers.  They came from Canonbie which is about fourteen miles from the museum.  Their names are recorded on the War Memorial there.

Private David Lister of the 5th Battalion the King’s Own Scottish Borderers died in Gallipoli, Turkey in September 1915 aged 19.

Lance Corporal Stewart Lister of the 2nd Battalion Royal Scot’s Fusiliers died on the Western Front in France in April 1918.

Their parents were David and Janet Lister of Mouldyhills, Canonbie, Dumfriesshire.

Scrolls like these were sent to the families of those who had died in World War One.

The text of the scroll was written (after much discussion and after consulting notable authors such as Rudyard Kipling) by the Provost of King’s College Cambridge.  King George V asked for one line to be changed, he asked for “at the bidding of their country” to be replaced with “at the call of King and country.”

A plaque was also sent to the grieving loved ones.  A competition to design the plaque was advertised in the Times in 1917 with a prize of £500 for the winning design.  The competition criteria stipulated that the plaque had to contain a symbolic figure, space for the name of the person who it was commemorating and the words,

“He died for freedom and honour.”

The judges included the Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Director of the National Gallery.  There were over 800 entrants.  The winning design was by Mr E Carter Preston (pictured below).  Around a million plaques and scrolls were made and sent to families between 1918 and 1919.  The plaque was nicknamed the “Dead Man’s Penny or “The Widow’s Penny.”

Women were also commemorated with around 800 plaques being inscribed with “She died for freedom and honour.”

The scrolls and plaques were sent with a letter, signed by King George V, which said: “I join with my grateful people in sending you this memorial of a brave life given for others in the Great War.”

Let’s Motivate!

A great opportunity to socialise and participate in fun, light exercises at the Devil’s Porridge Museum. Let’s Motivate takes place every other week on a Tuesday at 2.30pm. This event is aimed at older people. Everyone is welcome and the cost is £1 per person.

Spooky Night at the Museum

Friday 26th October

5.30pm – 7pm

Age: 5-12 years

£1.50 per child

Dress up!



Ghoulish Games!


Halloween: its origins, history and meaning.

Public talk at the Devil’s Porridge Museum

Tuesday 23rd October


£2 per person

Tea and coffee

Everyone welcome

Talk delivered by Judith Hewitt, former Manager of the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, Boscastle. Co-curator of their 2016 exhibition “Glitter and Gravedust: Halloween past and present.”
This talk will explore topics such as:
The meaning of the word Halloween
The development of the festival from ancient origins to present incarnations
The significance of the pumpkin, apple, costumes, cats and witches with Halloween.
Burn’s poem on Halloween and Maclise’s painting of a traditional Halloween party.
The talk will last roughly an hour with an opportunity for questions.
Painting below shows a traditional Halloween or Snap Apple Night party by Daniel Maclise.

Knitted poppies on display

Two of our wonderful volunteers (Lois Johnston and Evelyn McFadzean) created a beautiful display in the Museum on Sunday 9th September. They started putting hand knitted poppies in one of the Thomson Nitration Pans (on display in the Museum and used by the Gretna Girls to make the Devil’s Porridge – see photos below).

The poppies were knitted by Evelyn and her mother, Peg.

The display was also used to take these photos to celebrate the Museum being awarded a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence for 2018. #2018COEProud.

Thanks to Evelyn, Peg and Lois for the display (more poppies will be added in future as we approach November 11th) and to all the people out there who wrote us such great reviews (meaning that we are the top ‘”thing to do” in Dumfries and Galloway!)

Women and the Vote – a new exhibition at the Museum this Autumn

Visitors to the Devil’s Porridge Museum this autumn will be able to explore an exhibition on Women and the Vote (photographed below).  This temporary exhibition was created by the Dumfries and Galloway Women in History Group.  Devil’s Porridge celebrates the contribution that women to World War One, a contribution which was vital in achieving women the right to vote after the War. .

Community Activities

Our museum hosts regular community groups and provides activities aimed at those with varied interests and abilities.

We run a monthly Cordite Club for local retirees, offering lunch, refreshments and a programme varied talks on subjects including local history, art and nature.

Our Learning Suite is a large air conditioned room with ample space, tables and chairs. It can be hired for day or night classes. We currently host Tai Chi, Silver Surfers, Young Curators and many more local groups.

The room is available to hire for meetings, conferences and regular groups. To find out more, please contact the museum on 01461 700021 or email: info@devilsporridge.org.uk.