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Scottish Horse Badge

Scottish Horse Badge

By Collections blog

Scottish Horse Badge 1900

This Scottish Horse Badge was recently donated to the Museum. The Scottish Horse was a Regiment in the British Army which was created in 1900 for the Second Boer war. The Scottish Horse first appeared in their full uniform in May 1903 which was around 3 years after they were created. The uniform which they wore was a slouch hat which would have had the badge on it with khaki.

The Scottish Horse Regiment served in the Second Boer war then the First World War and partly in the Second World War before being withdrawn or moved into other units. The Scottish Horse Regiments were active from 1900 to 1956. The Second Scottish Horse division was mainly made up from South African and Australian volunteers but was disbanded in 1902 after the Second Boer War was finished.

Scottish Horse Badge

After 1956 when the Scottish Horse was disbanded they amalgamated with the Fife and Forfar Yeomanry which created a new regiment known as the Fife and Forfar Yeomanry/Scottish Horse. This regiment was then made into a reconnaissance unit in 1992 and is currently still in service.

Festival of Britain

Festival of Britain Soap Coin

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Festival of Britain Soap Coin

This item was recently donated to the Museum, it is a bar of soap which is in the shape of a coin from the festival of Britain which took place from May to October 1951 and was around the centenary of the Great Exhibition of 1851 which took place from the 1st May to 15th October. The Festival of Britain was arranged to celebrate the achievements of Britain and the things which they have accomplished and are planning to accomplish in the future, this included technological advancements, arts, scientific advancements and industrial design.

Festival of Britain

The government decided to hold the Festival of Britain to raise the morale of the people as they were still recovering from the end of World War Two, the idea was that the festival would take people’s minds off other things that were going on such as the need for housing etc. The festival cost a total of £12 million which caused some public backlash as people were calling it a waste of money as they felt that the Government should be investing their money in housing after many houses were destroyed during the war.

Festival of Britain

The Chief Organiser of the event was Labour Cabinet Minister Herbert Morrison. The site was cleared in October 1951 as Winston Churchills first act as Prime Minister as he branded it Socialist Propaganda. The event was branded a success as it is estimated that of the national population of 49 million, around half participated in some way. The most popular attraction was the South Bank Exhibition which attracted almost 8.5 million visitors of which half were from outside London.


Festival of Britain

A selection of medals and a letter.

Donation of medals

By Collections blog

We had a lovely donation of medals from World War Two recently.  The medals were awarded to Molly (Mary) Leslie nee Nairn and were donated to the Museum by her son.

Molly joined up with her friend, May Matthews.  They were both from Annan and can be seen in this photograph below.

Molly’s son remembers, She told me that they both ran away together to join up but were then sent to different places! My mum spent time in France and Germany during her service. “

After the War, May didn’t return to Annan but lived in Walton on Thames.  Molly lived in Annan and May used to visit her.  May still has family living in Annan.

Molly lived at 14 Tweedie Terrace in Annan until she married and they moved to 12 Closehead Avenue until the 80s when they moved to 4 East Hecklegirth where she lived until shortly before her death in January 2018.  Molly’s son now lives in Cumbria.   

We thank him for this donation, the information provided and for giving us permission to share it.

A munition worker.

Worker at HM Factory Gretna

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Worker at HM Factory Gretna

A visitor sent this to the Museum recently, it is a photo of her grandmother who was a munitions worker at HM Factory Gretna during the First World War. They also still have their grandmothers ‘On War Service’ badge which the munitions workers received when working at the factory, each one had its own unique identification number on it which means that every single badge is different.

On War Service Badge

This is a photo of her grandmother who was called Mary Ellen Fowler. The visitor was in Gretna recently and seen the ‘On War Service’ badge which is near the outlet village and thought of her grandmother. The visitors grandmother can be seen here in her factory uniform which all of the factory workers had to wear and could not include any metal in case a spark was created which would cause an explosion as the workers were dealing with highly explosive materials.

This is one of the ‘On War Service badges which were given to the munitions workers who worked in HM Factory Gretna. Every worker was given one and each one has its own unique number on it so that it was easier to identify the workers due to there being so many of them.


Fascinating new HM Factory Gretna donation

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Jake Mitchell, a student at Annan Academy, volunteers at The Devil’s Porridge Museum at the weekend as part of his Duke of Edinburgh award.  This weekend, he looked at a recent object donation and wrote this blog for the Museum’s website about it.

This week we were gifted some very interesting objects from a lady whose grandparents both worked at H.M. Factory, Gretna. One of the objects was a Factory Rule Book owned by her Grandfather (his name and address in the Mossband section of the Factory can be seen at the top).

factory rule book


Amongst the general rules is one which states that spitting is banned throughout the Factory!  The First Aid rules are quite comprehensive (as might be expected, this was dangerous work!)


Also gifted to the Museum were photographs of the donor’s maternal grandmother and grandfather along with their biographical information.

William Henry Collins was born on 24 September 1894 in Colchester, Essex. He joined the Royal Engineers in 1914 and met Anne Smith in 1916 when he was stationed in Gretna. He married Anne Smith on 7 July 1917 in Southsea. They had 4 girls in Colchester  during their marriage. They moved to Beeston, Nottingham where he worked at Wilford Power Station. He died on 26 October 1981 in City Hospital, Nottingham at the age of 87.

Anne Smith was born on 21 December 1898 in Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire. Her mother died in 1909 and she went to live with her father’s parents in Buckie. She met William Collins in Gretna where she was working at the munitions factory. She married William Henry Collins on 7 July 1917. They had four children during their marriage, moving from Colchester to Beeston where she lived until she died on 4 January 1997 at the age of 98.

We are so grateful for this generous donation which helps us to understand more about what happened here in World War One.

New object of the month in August 2019.

New Object of the Month

By Collections blog

This month’s objects of the month are items which would have been used in wartime in the hospitals to help tend for the injured soldiers and injured or wounded munitions workers as well. They would have been used in local hospitals such as the one on Annan Road in Gretna which is now the Gables Hotel and the houses which are across the road which were used as the actual hospital buildings. These objects may have also been used to treat some of the injured factory workers from HM Factory Gretna.

Gretna Hospital

The hospitals around HM Factory Gretna had to handle a lot of injuries and many patients, for example the average number of patients that each medical station had to deal with every week was 200. Some had more serious injuries than others for example many people would get intoxicated by the fumes and would have to get treated for that while some of the more serious injuries were things such as the loss of limbs or even death in some cases. Many people suffered long term health conditions from working at the factory as their skin would turn yellow and their teeth would fall out. There were three ambulances at HM Factory Gretna which on average travelled 370 miles a week each.

Doctors house in Gretna

This is a slipper bed pan which was made by Ayrton and Saunders. Ayrton and Saunders were founded in 1868 in Liverpool and were mainly a pharmaceutical business but also manufactured many different products and one of these were slipper ben pans which were to be used in hospitals. They were mainly used in hospitals so that people who couldn’t move from their bed could go to the bathroom. These were useful during and after the war as the nurses needed them to tend to the injured soldiers. Ayrton and Saunders were taken over in 1987 by A.A.H Pharmaceutical. The company name was later purchased by G.F O’Brien who owns a small chain of retail chemist shops.

Slipper Bed Pan

White china invalid cups such as this were also used in hospitals. The nurses and doctors used it to feed people who couldn’t hold a cup as they were too injured. Half of the top of the cup is covered as to not cause any spillage when being used. Like the slipper ben pan this piece of equipment was also useful during and after the war as it could be used to feed some of the more badly injured soldiers if they couldn’t move from their bed. The official use for an invalid cup is to help people decrease the amount of movement when drinking or to help those who have difficulty swallowing. These cups were also used by rich Victorian families when their children were sick, but their main use turned into tending for soldiers during and after the war.

Invalid cup

Another item is a Doctors bag which was used during World War One to keep all the doctor’s equipment in, these were typically made from leather and were probably used to mainly carry around medicine and bandages in case of emergency. This item was donated recently to the museum.

Doctors bag

HM Factory Gretna Worker

Gretna Girls

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HM Factory Gretna

A very kind gentleman has recently sent some photos of people who worked in HM Factory Gretna and has provided us with most of their names. We also know where one of them stayed and what her badge number was, she lived in Scott House in Eastriggs which still stands today but as 25 Vancouver Road. The photo below is of 25 Vancouver road in 2009. The hostel has been split up into 2 houses after it was sold off when World War One finished.

25 Vancouver Road

Many of the photos of people who used to work at the munition’s factory look like they were done in the same photography studio which must have been local to the factory. Everyone who worked at the factory was also given a badge to show they were working there this was mainly for the men as people would question them on the street as to why they were not overseas fighting, they could then show them their munitions badge which reads “on war service”. Women were also given the badges and around 270,000 were handed out in 1916 with their own unique ID number engraved into it. If the workers wanted a badge, then they would have to complete two months of job training.

These badges are also used as the Museums logo and we have a display inside the Museum with some of the badges on display and we also have some more in our store which are not on display as there were many from the local area as 12,000 women worked here. These badges were also a sense of pride for the workers in the factories and also gave them priority boarding and concessions fare on public transport.

Here is a photo of one of the women we already knew worked at HM Factory Gretna, this photo is of a woman called Barbara Stewart who was born in 1900 and worked at HM Factory Gretna from 1917 – 1918 she then married William Dalrymple of Annan in September 1918.

HM Factory Gretna Worker

If this photo is compared to one which was sent to us recently then you can see the similarities in the setting of the photo. This is a photo of Sarah Jane Bell who was born in 1895 and then married in 1923 to Robert W Johnston.

HM Factory Gretna Worker

The backdrops of the photos are the same. This means that the photos which were donated are ones of people who worked at HM Factory Gretna.

People, Pipes and Processes by Bon Freshwater. Book front cover.

People, Pipes and Processes

By Collections blog

Kenneth Bingham Quinan

KBQKBQ was born in New Jersey in 1878. KBQ had a normal schooling but no higher education. He spent some time aboard a sailing ship and then joined his uncle in 1890 at an industrial explosives factory in Pinole, California. He spent 10 years there learning on the job with his uncle.

From 1909 to December 1914 KBQ was general manager of Cape Explosives works. This factory had 1000 native employees and 350 Europeans.

On December 19th 1914 a cable sent from the high commission for South Africa in London stating that K B Quinan was urgently required in Britain. It is said that the steamship that KBQ boarded to get to Britain delayed its departure for an hour to enable that the man of the moment could board (this was a  very unusual occurrence and suggests how important KBQ was to the British).

SteamboatQuinan was put in charge of the Factories Branch of the Ministry of Munitions (about 20 factories in total). He worked seven days a week throughout the War and was mainly based in London in his offices at Storey’s Gate.

Quinan’s approach was meticulous. He created over 300 technical manuals and he demanded his staff create similar exemplars. These were then circulated throughout the factories so everyone could learn from each other and understand what processes were effective.

At the end of the war Quinan was 40 years old. He was offered a knighthood which he turned down (as an American, he didn’t think it was appropriate). He also received official thanks from the House of Commons and a gift of £10,000. And in 1919 he returned to South Africa.

On the 31st of December he married Jean Pargiter and they had two sons. He then retired on his fruit farm in Somerset West where he built a laboratory and dedicated himself to grape production. Then in 1942 he was invited by the British Government to be Senior Representative in South Africa for Chemical Defence Matters, he worked tirelessly in munitions manufacture again. Unfortunately then on January 26th at 11am 1948 he collapsed and died at his desk in his office.


Devil's porridge object of the month for July 2019. A model plane.

New object of the month

By Collections blog

New Object of the month

Supermarine Spitfire Mk1, Messerschmitt Bf 109E-4, Hawker Hurricane and Hawker Typhoon


Devil's porridge object of the month

The first Spitfire Mk 1 was completed in June 1938 and the first to receive one was squadron no. 19 in August of 1938. By the start of the war 306 Spitfires had been delivered of which 36 were written off. All together 1,566 Spitfire Mk 1s were made for the war and at the end of the Dunkirk evacuations the RAF had 19 Spitfire squadrons left. Spitfires were mainly used in the Battle of Britain to prevent Germany from occupying Britain and expanding their territory. The Spitfire was only used outside of the UK once which was at Dunkirk this was because Air Marshal Hugh Dowding held off any political or public calls for the Spitfires to be used overseas and they remained mainly for home defense. The Spitfire had many variations as new things were added throughout the production of them this means that altogether around 20,000 Spitfires were made during the Second World War. The Spitfires were also a crucial part in destroying the German bombers during the Battle of Britain as they were instructed to destroy them while the Hurricanes took the hits from the German fighter planes this is why many of the British aircraft were destroyed during this battle.

The Hawker Hurricane aircraft was another of the British aircraft used in the Second World War but were made in much higher quantities as 14,583 were made during the Second World War compared to only 1,566 Mk 1 Spitfires. The Hurricane unlike the Spitfire was able to take a fair few hits before going down this meant that they could be used to cover the Spitfires under attack. The Hurricane proved a crucial part in winning the Battle of Britain while many consider the Spitfire to be the one who played a major role in the battle but if it were not for the Hurricanes covering the Spitfires by taking hits for them then the battle may have been lost.

Another British aircraft which is on display is the Hawker Typhoon this aircraft made its maiden flight on the 24th February 1940. The Typhoon was meant to be the replacement for the Spitfire but struggled with carbon monoxide leakage into the cockpit and enormously increased drag over 400mph due to the thick wings. In 1942 the Typhoon entered service as a mid-level and low-level fighter. The thick wings proved to be an advantage and the plane was being fitted as a fighter bomber by October 1943, the plane was fitted with rockets to play its most well-known ground attack role. In total 3,330 typhoons were built mainly destroying infantry, armored cars and artillery.

The Messerschmitt Bf 109E-4 is a German World War Two fighter aircraft which was the backbone of the Luftwaffe’s defense.  This type of aircraft first found service during the Spanish Civil war in 1937 and was used throughout the Second World War until its end in 1945. A total of 33,984 were produced from 1936 to 1945 making it the most produced fighter aircraft in history. This aircraft was very technologically advanced as it had an engine that made it superior in dogfights as the British planes would lose fuel injection if they made a sharp dive whereas the German planes had engines that would give fuel no matter what maneuver they were doing. The Messerschmitt was also superior in the weapons that it carried as it carried cannons while the British planes only carried machine guns this meant that the Messerschmitt could easily take down any of the British aircraft, this also made it much better at range because the cannons can reach much further than the standard machine gun bullets. The Messerschmitt was also used to spearhead the invasion of the Soviet Union during the Second World War. There was one weakness of the Messerschmitt during battles as it had quite a short fuel range and couldn’t protect the bombers all the way to Britain as they had to go back and refuel whereas the British aircraft could easily just land and refuel their planes quickly.

Aviator hat

Also, on display an aviator’s helmet worn by British pilots during the Second World War.

Gretna girls hockey team.

Girls hockey team at HM Factory Gretna in World War One

By Collections blog

A recent visitor to the museum was intrigued by this photo, which we have on display in our ground floor gallery.  It shows the Girls Hockey Team from HM Factory Gretna in World War One.

girls hockey team

The visitor wondered if one of the women pictured may have been Evelyn Perry.  Evelyn was appointed Physical Training Instructor at Gretna in 1917 as this page from the book ‘Challenge of Change’ recounts.

challenge of change

This is the comment that the visitor made:

The players in the photo were not named but one lady in the back row was wearing a deep yoked tunic – often an indication of a trained PE specialist and a small section of a brooch.  I rather dismissed her as being Evelyn as she appeared to be wearing the Dunfermline College of Hygiene and Physical Training brooch – see my version [below].  The top looks just visible.

However, on reflection, Evelyn was on the staff of Dunfermline College from at least 1905 – 1907 and may well have been given a brooch although she had trained at Chelsea, probably before brooches were given out [see text below for more information].

dumferline college brooch

dunfermline college

Looking at our records, we were able to find this description of hockey playing at the Factory, it is taken from a record of HM Factory Gretna’s Social and Recreational Department’s activities during World War One.

hockey at hm factory gretna

If anyone knows anymore about this, please do contact the museum as we are always looking to find out more about life here during World War One.

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