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Photo of Flora Richardson

Flora Richardson

Biography

Information from Flora’s granddaughter:Flora was a Dalbeattie girl – the second of ten children, born in October 1889. Her father was a Quarry Worker and Dry Stone Dyker. The 1911 Census shows the family living in Dalbeattie and Flora (aged 22) and her mother working in the local glove factory. At some point after that she went into service at Castlemilk House near Lockerbie owned by the Jardine family. There she met my grandfather John Jackson Little a groom, son of a local Blacksmith. At some point she left Castlemilk to work at HMF Gretna (possibly when the house became a hospital during WW1). I have very few possessions of hers, but I do have a studio photo of Flora and another young woman in their factory outfits. I also have her autograph book which contains entries from those years. Some of these are from people who worked in the Central Lab at HMF Gretna and so I wonder if somehow the work she did was linked to the Lab. The personal nature of the entries and the exquisite detail in the drawings and poems lead me to think these people were well known to Flora rather than passing acquaintances. Basic research has shown some of these contributions to be from an Australian Chemist and other scientists who have been added to the Devil’s Porridge database. Flora married in November 1917 whilst at the factory but returned to Dalbeattie after her marriage where her three sons were born. Something about Eastriggs made her return some years later and she lived there for the rest of her days. I have much more research to do but I suspect I will never be able to create a detailed story in the way that is possible when letters and photos are carefully passed down through generations. She would have had an independence she could not have dreamed of when helping her mother care for her eight younger siblings or when in service. Her love of cinema was most probably nourished in the state-sponsored cinemas of Gretna and Eastriggs when for the first time she would have been able to watch films in female company. Her love of being smartly turned out may well have been honed by being surrounded by other independent young working women who took their role models from the big screen and had income to spare. Her working life would have been hard and the days long, but she had opportunities that could not have been dreamed of in rural southwest Scotland in the early years of the twentieth century. I may not yet know my beloved Flora’s full life story, but I do know she was part of something remarkable. I also know that her time at HMF Gretna may have been relatively brief but that it shaped her and influenced the life I have been able to lead. 

Photos of Flora and her autograph book kindly shared by her granddaughter.

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