Free Online Talks

By January 9, 2021March 23rd, 2021One Comment

Before the pandemic hit, the Devil’s Porridge Museum used to have a lively and varied programme of events and talks.  We’re now really pleased to be offering these online. We aim to have a talk once a month on a subject which links to local history or the themes of the Museum.

You can now acquire tickets for the following (free talks):



Mossband, Farewell!: Workers’ Writings and the Mossband Farewell Magazine

Monday 26th April

Book your tickets via eventbrite here:

Mossband, Farewell!: Workers’ Writings and the Mossband Farewell Magazine Tickets, Mon 26 Apr 2021 at 19:00 | Eventbrite

30,000 people worked at HM Factory Gretna in World War One. 12,000 of them were women. They came from all around the world to stir the ‘devil’s porridge’ (make munitions) and turn the tide of the War.

This talk will discuss the magazines produced by staff and workers at HM Factory Gretna between 1916 and 1919.

It will discuss the lively content, in poetry and prose, the aims of the magazine, and the way it created a sense of community.

It will also set this magazine in the wider context of magazines and newspapers produced in industrial workplaces, from the mid-19th century to at least the mid-20th century.


Kirstie Blair is a Professor at the University of Strathclyde, and a leading researcher of long nineteenth-century working-class literature and culture. Her last book, Working Verse in Victorian Scotland: Poetry, Press, Community, won the Saltire Society Scottish Book of the Year award in 2019. She currently leads a major project on industrial workers and their involvement in literature and culture, focused on Scotland and the North ( and designs and leads the free FutureLearn course ‘Working Lives in the Factories & Mills.’


This event will be held via Zoom and a joining link will be sent on the day.



Political Activists and Professional Women: the Extraordinary Lives of Elise Bowerman and Chrystal Macmillan

Monday 21st June 2021 at 7pm

Book your ticket via Eventbrite here:

Chrystal Macmillan and Elsie Bowerman were both born during Queen Victoria’s reign. At this time, girls’ access to education was substandard, women were barred from a number of careers considered ‘unfeminine’, and all women and many men could not vote. By the time of their deaths, many of these gendered barriers to success had been challenged and broken down.

This talk will investigate the extraordinary lives of both women, from their achievements of educational firsts, to their activism during the votes for women campaign, their wartime work, and their careers as early women barristers. In doing so, it will show the impact of their lifelong feminist activism.

Laura Noakes completed her PhD at the Open University. Her research examined the relationship between the women’s suffrage movement and early women lawyers through detailed contextual consideration of two women: Elsie Bowerman and Chrystal Macmillan. She now works as a Research Assistant at the Devil’s Porridge Museum.



Great War Huts: an accidental First World War heritage project

Monday 26th July 2021


Book your tickets via Eventbrite here:

Great War Huts: an accidental First World War heritage project Tickets, Mon 26 Jul 2021 at 19:00 | Eventbrite

Taff Gillingham tells the story of hows the Great War Huts project came about and their work in saving and restoring a number of original First World War temporary wooden buildings from across the country, set against the context of the original hut-building programme of 1914-1919. Taff goes on to explain the museum and visitor centre plans for the future and the approach that they intend to take.


Taff Gillingham is a military historian and historical military advisor for film, television and theatre productions.

He co-owns Khaki Devil, a company specialising in the hire of uniforms, equipment, weapons and historical advice and is co-director of the Great War Huts project.

He has a background in film and television design and is a former trustee of The Suffolk Regiment Museum.



Fur coats and Overalls: clothing and munitions workers in World War One

Monday 23 August 2021


Book your tickets via Eventbrite here:

Fur Coats and Overalls: clothing and munition workers in World War One Tickets, Mon 23 Aug 2021 at 19:00 | Eventbrite


By 1917 the First World War was affecting the British Public’s morale but munition production reached its peak in this year.

Profiting from the war effort by company owners or female munition workers, in particular was discussed in vociferously disapproving tones.

Cartoons appeared in publications such as Punch ridiculing the class, manners and extravagant taste of those working in munition production.

Towards the end of the war when women were being ‘laid-off’ in favour of the returning soldiers editorials published in the Carlisle press described former munition workers attending employment offices dressed in fur coats.

This talk will discuss some of the illustrations and attitudes towards this group of working class women whilst considering whether their purchases did reflect a new financial security or if their future was actually more precarious.


The Lost Men of a Parish Our Lady & St Joseph’s Heroes Remembered 1914 -18

Monday 20th September 2021


The Lost Men of a Parish Our Lady & St Joseph’s Heroes Remembered 1914 -18 Tickets, Mon 20 Sep 2021 at 19:00 | Eventbrite

Standing proudly in the grounds of Our Lady & St Joseph’s Church, Carlisle is an 18ft White Marble Memorial bearing witness to the 75 men who fell in the Great War this was our starting point. Little was known of those men, not a sheet of paper could be traced anywhere, some of whom are remembered without their Christian name or initials. Who were they? Where were they from? How old were they? Were they married? Where and how did they fall?

Following four years of dedicated research, the authors’ have been able to painstakingly trace the lives 73 of these lost men all of whom made the supreme sacrifice for their King and country far from home. This book has traced their parents, siblings, careers and sadly the last few days leading to their loss.

Men who came from all walks of life, three made new lives in Canada and Australia, heard the call of duty of the mother country to which they returned to don Khaki. Poignant moments when the Parish Priest announces the loss of a Parishioner to his congregation. The sad letters home, the telegrams that didn’t arrive, the lost and precious belongings that didn’t make it. A son who was only identified by his button, a father who waited for twelve months before his beloved son was traced, men who continue to share a grave. Men who still lie somewhere in foreign fields.

A printer, a farmer, a decorator, a mine owner, a future priest, a joiner, career soldier all are recorded as their young lives become know to us.

Seminarian Francis McNiff shot down over the English Chanel on his first flight; James Murray who was discharged, for ill discipline, from the navy then joined the Army using a false name; Arthur Henry was imprisoned for being underage, before being returned to Carlisle.

Many who died with their most precious possessions in their pockets.

These compelling personal stories, and how they were unravelled, are contained in over 80,000 words and over 200 illustrations and graphs and are the subject of Derek’s illustrated talk.



Translate »