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Castle Gateway in Carlisle on a postcard.

Old Postcards Photos of Carlisle

By Collections blog

Recently the Museum was donated lots of postcards. Some of the postcards have photos of Carlisle and the surrounding area, some have photos of Gretna (will be posted at a later date) and some have cartoons and birthday wishes etc.



Many of the postcards which we have showing Carlisle during the First World War with one even showing the Carlisle Women Munition Workers Football Team (shown below).



The two images below show the interior and exterior of the Gretna Tavern in Carlisle.



The photo below is of Warwick Road in Carlisle from 1923


The photo below is of the War Memorial Bridge in Carlisle


A storage area full of boxes.

New display featuring objects from Eastriggs and Longtown munitions depots

By News

This article was written by Alastair Ritchie, who is one of our young volunteers.  He recently completed The Prince’s Trust Award while volunteering in the Museum.

Ammunition Line Display 

A while ago the museum was kindly donated 2 rollers and 4 trestles which we believe were used at the Eastriggs or Longtown depot. Since then we have sought to find a place for them, which we have now found (thanks to Neil McGarva for this suggestion). The items have been arranged in a way which will help to demonstrate their use, under the stairs in front of the window so it will be something for people to see when coming in from the car park or walking round the building.

Alastair near the display (which is hard to photograph due to being behind glass). He is holding an ammunition storage box.

Thanks to the efforts of our volunteers  Alastair and George along with Digital Marketing Modern Apprentice Morgan, the area has been cleared, cleaned and arranged to ensure it both looks good and gives some insight into how these items might have been used.

If you are interested in some more information on our display then here are a few facts about it…

  • The rollers were used in both WW1 and 2 (some would have been mechanised by the Second World War though) to assist in moving all types of ammo, firstly from the train to the magazine and secondly from one part of the factory to another.

  • The rollers were able to make moving large amounts of tank shells, bullets of all types, artillery shells, bombs though these were limited in type and navy shells more efficient.

  • In order to improve the rollers longevity they were made very durable, requiring little maintenance beyond the occasional greasing and replacing of the yellow and black paint which could easily be done by the women and men who worked with them.

    A group of people of load their crate onto the line that then leads into storage where it will stay until use.

  • Rollers could also be set up in long lines that might run up to 6 rollers long, allowing multiple teams to work on different parts, doing a varied tasks including….

  • placing empty open boxes onto the line

  • placing shells into boxes or removing ones from the line to be placed in storage or shipped out

  • sealing boxes

  • taking boxes off to be either placed in storage or on a train to be taken away for use

  • We have been told by Robin, a Trustee at the Museum (he worked within Eastriggs and Longtown depots for many years and is a former Inspector in the Ministry of Defence Police) that at the depot the process was referred to as “hand-balling” by some staff.

  • The rollers were a earlier version of the modern assembly lines without power and were used throughout the depot until the introduction of forklifts and other modern equipment.

  • In total the Rollers could hold somewhere between 13-15 tons which was vital as the Eastriggs depot could house up to 10–30,000 tons of material while Longtown could hold almost twice that amount as it was split between the COD (Central Ordnance Depot) which stored inert material such as boxes and packaging for various forms of ammunition and the CAD (Central Ammunition Depot) which stored various types of small arms to artillery shell ammunition.


Group of worker using multiple rollers to assist them in moving crates around. This was essentially the rollers job to make moving heavy object safer, easier and most importantly faster.

The following book may be of interest if you would like to know more about the depots and the local area in World War Two:

The Solway Military Coast book

After this article was published, a member of the public came forward with the following information and photographs, we thank him for sharing this with us:

  • The beginning of the process in what was known as the In-Transit this is where the ammunition/explosives are received into the building

  • Operatives would breakdown the pallets and load the containers/boxes onto the rollers and they would then be pushed through a hatch into the Process area where Ammunition Examiners would carry out various tasks:

  • Safety Inspection

  • Modification

  • Repairs

  • A pedestrian gate in the rollers where examiners could work on both sides of the rollers

  • Once this was done the containers/boxes would be moved along the rollers to the Out-Transit, here operatives would add markings

  • The rollers were used in all types of industry including the ships for deep sea dumping


Just after the war some of the excess ammunition was thrown into the sea

This process was known as Deep Sea Dumping fortunately it is now Banned



Haaf Net Fishing Films

By News

One of the Great things about having an exhibition on display is the things that it leads to. Our current exhibition in Haaf Net Fishing (which is on display until April 1st), has generated a lot of interest (from people in Cumbria as well as people on the Scottish side of the Solway). So far we have had object donations, objects on loan and on display for our Object of the Month Display and now we have had photographs and film footage shared with us.

The photo above shows a Haaf Netter at Loch and Dornock which is near the old HM Factory Gretna site and not far from Eastriggs, where the Museum is located.


These videos were shared with the Museum by Annan Museum and make interesting viewing:

Thanks to everyone who is sharing things with the Museum – we really appreciate it!

For more information on our Haaf Net Exhibition see:

To purchase books or other items relating to Haaf Net Fishing, visit our online shop:

Planning Maps for HM Factory Gretna

By Collections blog

A local gentleman visited the Museum the other day to share some wonderful items with us. He has a map of the local area (stretching from Dornock to Longtown). It appears to be an ordnance survey map from 1898 and on it someone has drawn plans for HM Factory Gretna (the greatest munitions factory on earth during World War One, The Devils Porridge tells it story and the story of the 30,000 workers, 12,000 of whom were women). You can clearly see the Factory sites 1-4 labelled on the map and contours have been drawn on the main intended Factory locations as an aid for planning. Two townships were built for the Factory (Gretna and Eastriggs) and neither appears on the map – there are just open fields and farms – as they weren’t constructed until after 1915. It is quite strange to see a map without these two significant local towns on it.  The map also shows plans for a temporary pumping station and the pipelines that would be built for the movement of millions of gallons of water used by the Factory each day. Fascinating stuff and amazing to see a glimpse into the planning of the construction of the Factory.

Our visitor also brought in an auction catalogue from 1924. At the end of the war, the Factory plant, site and the houses in the townships were auctioned off and this catalogue was produced (we have one on display in the Museum). What was particularly interesting about this gentleman’s copy of the Auction Book was that it had all five maps inside it (and they were in excellent condition). We have some of the maps but not all of them so it was really interesting to see all the maps together.

We are very grateful to this gentleman for sharing these documents with us and for letting us take photographs of the items in question for our records.

Landgirl Film Project Premiere at Annan Lonsdale Cinema

By Events

This takes place on the 10th of March at the Annan Lonsdale Cinema. Booking is essential! If you would like to book a place please phone: 01461 700021 or email:


Hear the oral history of a Carlisle Landgirl from World War Two as filmed, edited and animated by local young people.


In World War Two, thousands of young women did their war work on the land. This film will focus on the experiences of Bettie (Photographed). She was a young girl in Carlisle when World War Two started and she spent most of the war in Cumbria working on different farms. Her film involves tales of cows, rat catching and mole baiting along with other wonderful experiences she had along the way .


This cinema screening is free to attend. There will be brief talks by those involved in the project as part of the evening as well.


With thanks to Annan Lonsdale Cinema for generously hosting this event.

Elizabeth Hunter in her munitions uniform.

Elizabeth Hunter – Gretna Girl

By Collections blog

Elizabeth (Lizzie) Hunter

Born 28 November 1893 died 20th October 1969

Worked at HM Factory Gretna 1916 – 1919

Badge No. B201047


Elizabeth originally trained as a dress maker in Carlisle, then began work at the factory. She commuted from Carlisle to work.


She had a souvenir autograph book, which was addressed to the girls in the stove room so she could have potentially worked there. Included in this autograph book was a poem written by one of the other girls.


Once she had finished working at the Factory, she worked at Carrs Biscuit Works in Carlisle before marrying a Presbyterian Minister in 1927 and moving around the country.


She had three brothers who served during WW1; two were part of the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders with one killed in 1918 and the other wounded four times. Her third brother was part of the Royal Garrison Artillery and was awarded the Military Cross; he had been a prisoner of war, where he had a Bible and wrote in code with a pin details of the awful living conditions he faced in the camp. Unfortunately he died a month after the Armistice; the Bible was returned to his father but upon reading of his experience burned the copy so no-one else could read it.



A radio on display in The Devil's Porridge Museum.

A Look Inside The Museum

By News

This display is the start of the timeline of the Second World War which is located on the top floor. This display follows on from a timeline of pre Second World War which explains the build up to the conflict.


The display includes a voice extract from Neville Chamberlin (who was Prime Minister at the time) when he took to the airwaves to announce to the country that Britain was at war with Germany. It also includes a quote from a local woman named Margaret Clark recalling the moment the announcement was made, “I was sitting at our kitchen table doing my homework and all of a sudden Big Ben struck and then Neville Chamberlin started to speak – our country was now at war. It was a very funny feeling, it was quite frightening really.”

Rumours of a new munitions factory at Gretna had been circulating since 1937.  In a strategic move the government decided to spread the risk by building a number of smaller factories. Three months after the war was announced, His Majesty’s Inspector of Explosives gave the go ahead to build Powfoot Munitions Factory on the Solway Firth, just 8 miles (12km) away from where the Museum is now.


The map below shows some of the key points which were used during the Second World War in the local area such as RAF Annan, ICI Powfoot and many of the homes used for evacuation of children.

A group of people stood by the animals in war memorial outside The Devil's Porridge Museum.

Dickin Medal

By News

The Devils Porridge has a fantastic new item on loan – a Dickin Medal. The Dickin Medal was created by Maria Dickin, founder of the PDSA in 1943 to recognise the brave contributions made by Animals in War. It has been awarded just 71 times – 31 dogs, 32 World War Two messenger pigeons, three horses and one cat have been awarded. The medal is on loan from the Royal Pigeon Racing Association (the RPRA) and is one of only three medals they have loaned from their collection across the UK. The medal commemorates ‘Dutch Coast’ a pigeon who delivered an SOS from a ditched air crew in 1942. The pigeon covered 288 miles in 7.5 hours. The entire crew were rescued as a result of this action.

“The Museum has a memorial outside to commemorate Animals In War” said Judith Hewitt, Museum Manager, “and last year members of our Young Historians Club worked with the RPRA and the Carlisle Animals In War group to curate an exhibition about all the animals who also served. We are delighted to be able to bring this rare object to our region and to share it with our visitors. It will go on display within the next few weeks and will offer something different for everyone (especially animal lovers) to see.”

The State Management Display inside The Devil's Porridge Museum.

State Management Display

By News

A recent visitor to the Museum took a photo during their visit of our State Management of alcohol display (specifically a bottle of Brandy which must date from the 1970’s at least!) here we share a little bit more about this unique social experiment in Cumbria and Dumfries and Galloway.

Ten thousand (mainly Irish) navvies built HM Factory Gretna, the greatest factory on earth in World War One. They worked in difficult conditions to build the factory in a hurry and within eight months, it was fully operational and producing the Devils Porridge (cordite, an explosive)

The arrival of these hard working and hard drinking men caused social problems. Alcohol was a particular issue. On one famous night, ‘The Night of a Thousand Whiskies’, a barkeeper in Carlisle lined up 1000 shots of whisky for the navvies to consume. They drank their drink and then roamed around the streets of Carlisle raising hell. The residents of Carlisle and Annan were adamant: something had to change.

Some bottles of alcohol from the State Management Scheme

So the state took control of the alcohol supply: limiting people to buying one drink at a time, taking over the pubs, inns and taverns to make them more social with bowling greens and restaurants as well as producing their own alcohol (a weaker brew). This control of alcohol became known as the State Management Scheme or the Carlisle Experiment. It was introduced in World War One in response to a perceived immigrant disruption of social life but it remained long after the migrant navvies had left.

Statistics demonstrating the success of State Management

The State Management of Alcohol in parts of Cumbria and South West Scotland lasted until 1973. It is one of the most tangible impacts of HM Factory Gretna on this region. Many people from across the region were employed within state management.


The Devils Porridge Museum has a display relating to this experiment which showcases different bottles of wine, sherry and alcohol as well as showcasing beer pump stoppers, coasters and even dining sets (there were state managed hotels as well). A recent visitor donated to us a crate of State Managed beer. The bottles are full but I wouldn’t like to drink one! You often wonder what else is hiding out there in someone’s attic or garage and what part of the fascinating story of our region it helps to tell?

State Management Display in the Museum

A green house made out of plastic bottles.

Eco Greenhouse

By Events

Over the weekend February 8th and 9th The Devils Porridge Eco Club would like your help to build a bottle green house at the Museum.

Many hands make light work so whether you can help over both days or just have a spare half hour to come along 12 till 2 on Saturday and Sunday.


The green house will be made using empty 2 litre plastic juice bottles so if you have any empty bottles between now and the even bring them along or drop them off at the Museum. (we will need a lot).


As well as building the green house there will be plenty of other gardening jobs to be done as we strive to get our Dig for Victory garden ready for Spring.

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