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Eastriggs Commonwealth Week 2022.

By Events

Eastriggs the Commonwealth Village is coming together to celebrate Commonwealth Week from March 12th to March 19th 2022. A number of local organisations are coming together to put on an impressive array of activities over that period. Read more about all the events that will be happening below.


Saturday 12th March

Tractor Pull Challenge

10am – 12 noon and 2.00pm – 3.30pm

A Tractor Pull Challenge sponsered by SJ Barbers and Touch of Beauty will be happening at The Devil’s Porridge Museum. Why not come  and see how far you can pull it? There’s a £25 cash prize for both Ladies and Gents challenges.

Commonwealth Entertainment

7:30pm – 12:30am

At Eastriggs Social Club, featuring ‘Back2Back’ and Status Quo tribute Peter Kelly. Tickets £8 from the Club or The Devil’s Porridge Museum. There will be prizes for the best Commonwealth fancy dress!


Sunday 13th March

The Time Bandits

10am – 4pm

Learn all about life in World War One with living history performers The Time Bandits at The Devil’s Porridge Museum.

Booking online to visit the Museum is essential to avoid disappointment when we are busy. You can book your visit to the museum here:


Monday 14th March

Meet the Curator

6pm – 8pm

There will be a  FREE open evening at The Devil’s Porridge Museum where you can meet Emma Gilliland, the new Curator, and enjoy tastes of the Commonwealth.


Wednesday 16th March

Look out for MyPod Youth Bus!


Friday 18th March


Starts 7pm at The Wayside Inn.

Your host for the evening is Harry H. Could you be the Eastriggs Commonwealth Champion? Followed by traditional karaoke – who will be voted the best male and female singers? £60 in prizes.


Saturday 19th March

Eastriggs Historic Commonwealth Games.

12 noon – 4pm

Free admission and fun for all the family at Melbourn park!

Eastriggs man involved in the capture of Heinrich Himmler?

By Collections blog

We have received a really interesting inquiry and are looking for your help.

For several years, Chris Mannion has researched his grandfather’s connection to the capture of Heinrich Himmler (one of the ‘architects’ of the Holocaust, right hand man to Hitler and head of the SS) at the end of World War Two.  Chris has managed to discover a great deal of information and is going to use that information to write a book.

Himmler (front left) with Hitler.

Himmler was captured by a patrol made up of men from the 196 Battery, 73rd Anti tank regiment, Royal Artillery.

You can watch a video about Chris’s research here:

Within the ranks of 196 battery was L/Bdr Thomas Steel, service number 14596001.

The only other information on L/Bdr Steel is the address he gave the regiment.  That address is, 2 Butterdales, Eastriggs.

Chris has photos L/Bdr Thomas Steel should be on (below), but sadly no method of recognizing him.

To the best of Chris’s current knowledge and understanding, he wasn’t connected to Himmler’s capture, but still he may have left stories, photos etc. so we are looking for people who may have known Thomas Steel to come forward.

This photo was taken late May 1945 in Germany.
It shows 196 battery, 73rd Anti-tank regiment, and it is highly likely L/Bdr Thomas Steel is on this photo.

Currently, all the information on L/Bdr Steel is as follows:

Rank Lance bombardier, service number 14596001, the address he gave the regiment was 2 Butterdales, Eastriggs. Of course, this maybe his parent’s address or another relative, a sister maybe?

He enlisted on the 6th May 1943. He joined the 73rd A/T regiment  in March 1944.

When the War ended, he was transferred to another regiment and was posted to India.

He was demobbed in 1947.

196 battery landed on Gold beach, Normandy on the morning of the 7th June 1944.

They fought in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.

No record of him ever being wounded.

Anyone with any information, date of birth, death, family, possible photos etc.

Anything at all would be welcome.  Please do email or phone 01461 700021 if you have any information.  We would love to be able to help!



Old Postcards of Gretna and Eastriggs

By Collections blog

When HM Factory Gretna was built in WW1 they needed a place to house all of their workers, they came up with the idea to build two new townships near the Factory site. These two townships were Eastriggs and Gretna, many houses and hostels were built to house all of the workers during WW1 some of which you can see in the photo below of Dunedin Road in Eastriggs.



The photo below shows the temporary wooden huts which were eventually converted into proper houses using brick after the war built in Gretna along with some of the permanent  hostel buildings which have now been converted into houses.



Below is a photo of the girls reading room which would be used some of the 12,000 female workers who worked at HM Factory Gretna during their spare time. The interior looks very nice but some reports we have of girls who worked at the Factory say that it was very cold inside during the winter as there was no heating.


Old Postcards of the Local Area

By Collections blog

These old postcards show what life was like in these local towns and villages and how much they’ve changed. We do not have exact dates from when the photos were taken but they show a very different time.



This postcard shows the Scotch Express leaving Carlisle Train Station which as you can see looks very different in this photo than it does today.


The Central Hotel in Annan looks a lot different here. Shame that it has now fallen into disrepair. This postcard also shows how different the roads were back then with no road markings and the roundabout not yet in place.



This postcard shows what Powfoot looked like quite some time ago. The old sandstone house now being part of the Powfoot Golf Hotel.



This postcard shows The Rand in Eastriggs and what it looked like with all of the houses built for the workers of HM Factory Gretna and used as hostels. These hostels were all purpose built to house the workers of HM Factory Gretna during the First World War.

Devils Porridge Museum Podcast

By News

Welcome to The Devils Porridge Museum Podcast!


The Devils Porridge Museum Podcast has been created as part of an inter-generational oral history project. The project is now available for you to listen to online.


Through conversations and interviews, our volunteers and others from the local community will be sharing their personal stories and memories with The Devils Porridge Podcast team.


This week on our podcast we chat to Sybelle, who is one of our volunteers about the Annan Riding of the Marches and the history of the event.


More episodes will follow over the coming weeks, so please come back and listen to more installments throughout the summer.


If you would like to get involved in the project to share your own stories and memories or if you would like to find out more about joining our production team please contact:


You can listen to the podcast below:

VE Day Memories

By News

The Devil’s Porridge Museum joined in the nation’s commemorations of the 75th anniversary of VE Day on Friday.  This event (which we participated in digitally) has brought forward some more memories and photos which we wanted to share with you.

The photograph below shows Ettie Wilsenham celebrating VE Day on Friday at her home in Eastriggs (the windows have been covered with red, white and blue fabric in place of a British flag which they weren’t able to source during lockdown).

Ettie was working in Eastriggs depot when the War ended, she actually took the call from the Brigadier and did a great job going round all the magazines to break the news to everyone that the War was over.

People working in the ammunition storage depot during World War Two.

Ettie has a lot of connections to the Museum: she was once one of our volunteers and she features in our display about the Eastriggs depot.  The story of her marriage also featured in our ‘Love in Wartime’ exhibition as recounted below.

Ettie joined the war effort aged 16 when she secured a job in Eastriggs Depot in 1942. While she was there, she met Arthur who was a soldier in the Ordnance Corps, assigned to guard the Grade 4 stores.

“Every so often when I was working at those stores, Arthur would slip me a bar of chocolate. What with the rationing and chocolate being so scarce, I was won over! We married in 1945 [on June 7th] after the war with Germany was ended.”

Thanks so much to Ettie and Ann for sharing this account and to Dot for organising for it to be shared with the Museum.

If you would like to know more about World War Two in this region, the following book from our online shop may be of interest to you:

The Solway Military Coast book




Women’s Police Service at HM Factory Gretna

By Collections blog

Over the next couple of weeks, we’re going to be focusing on one interesting aspect of HM Factory Gretna – the Women’s Police Service.

This first post provides introductory information, then we’re going to take a look in more detail at some of the documents and accounts in the Museum collection.

During World War One, 12,000 women worked at HM Factory Gretna.  They were mainly young, unmarried women and the Ministry of Munitions felt responsible for them, taking several actions which they saw as being for the girl’s own protection. We might now view curfews, searches and the largest women’s police service in Britain as restrictive, but at the time there was a War on and the measures were seen as necessary.

All work at HM Factory Gretna came under the Official Secrets Act. There was large police presence, this building in Gretna was once the police HQ, it still stands and is now converted into flats.

The Devil’s Porridge Museum has several items in its collection and archive which relate to the Women’s Police Service.  There were over 150 members of this unit and they were, on the whole older, better educated middle class women who policed the younger, less educated, working class women who made up the majority of the Factory employees.  These young women were known as the ‘Gretna Girls’ although they came from all over Britain and worked in a Factory which stretched as far as Longtown.  For example, we know one female police officer was born in Braithwaite, Cumbria.

Members of the WPS outside the Women’s Police Barracks, Gretna in World War One.

The Museum archive includes documents about the training of the female police force and their uniforms, photographs of them and the buildings associated with them (one of which, the Police HQ in Gretna, still stands and is now flats).  An interesting document is a petition to Winston Churchill for improved pay.  This dates from 1918 when Churchill was Minister of Munitions and includes the signatures of lots of women employed in this role.  We are also fortunate to have a women’s police truncheon and WPS badge on display in the Museum.

Ministry of Munitions WPS badge from the Museum collection.

What did the women police do?  We know they inspected the girls as they entered and exited the Factory (for example one young woman tried to sneak in her knitting, another some cigarettes, one tried to steal some cordite).  They also policed the morals of the girls (breaking up a kissing couple on the railway platform, maintaining the 10pm curfew and inspecting the back rows of the two factory cinemas).  At the end of the War, some women remained in police service while others returned to their families or other employment.

That’s the end of Part One, Part Two coming soon.

If you’d like to know more about HM Factory Gretna and women in World War One, the following items from our online shop might interest you:

Gretna’s Secret War

Lives of Ten Gretna Girls booklet

The Devil’s Porridge Museum Guidebook

National Doctors Day

By Collections blog

12,000 women worked at HM Factory Gretna in World War One and one of the most remarkable must have been Agnes Barr Auchenloss.  National Doctor’s Day seemed like a perfect time to share her story.

Agnes Barr Auchenloss

Agnes was  born on May 30th 1886 in Paisley.  She graduated from the University of Glasgow with a MB_ChB in 1911.  Her name appeared nine times on the prize lists and she achieved first class certificates in Anatomy and Surgery during her time at University.  After graduation, she worked as a doctor then moved to South Africa.  She married Gosta Lundholm in Cape Town and gave birth to their first child in 1915.  

Gosta Lundholm

Gosta was a chemist and his father was an associate of Alfred Nobel.  His family originated from Sweden but had lived in Scotland for many years before the War and both Gosta’s father and mother had British citizenship.  Gosta studied in Edinburgh, London and Zurich before travelling to South Africa to work as a chemist with the British South African Explosive Co. Ltd at Modderfontein in the Transvaal (this factory made explosives for use in the Rand goldmines). 

In June 1916, the family moved to Eastriggs so Gosta could work in HM Factory Gretna (as an explosives expert, his skills were in demand during war time).

The Ridge in Eastriggs where Agnes lived.

This talented and intelligent couple lived at the No. 9, The Ridge Eastriggs with their son and both contributed to the war effort in their own way.  Gosta assisted in the construction of the plant.  He was regarded as one of the leading chemists in the Factory and was appointed Assistant Section Manager of the Nitro Glycerine section in 1917, a position he held until the end of the War.   

Agnes worked as a Medical Officer in the Factory throughout the War.  She was introduced to the King and Queen during their visit to the Factory in 1917 and said to the King, “It’s good to be in the hands of a kent face” which the King is said to have understood and appreciated when the phrase was explained to him. 

After the War, they returned to South Africa and had another son.  In 1929, they returned to Scotland when Gosta took up a position at an ICI detonator factory in Ardeer.  

Gosta was known as a man who was absolutely dependable with an agreeable personality.  He was said to have a lovely singing voice and enjoyed the opera, sailing and tennis.  Agnes was always helping people who were unwell and generously gave her time to the sick and injured throughout her life.  Gosta died aged 82 in 1969.  Agnes died aged 86 in 1972.   

Photographs, tour and information about Eastriggs online

By News

Just over a year ago, Sheila Ruddick, who was the Museum’s Secretary and a Trustee for over twenty years, took a group of young people on a tour of Eastriggs.  She showed them all the sites she had researched over the years for her own interest, for the Museum and for the map she produced ‘Eastriggs: Commonwealth Walk Guide’ (which is available from the Museum online shop – see below).

The young people (and Judith, the Museum Manager) enjoyed their afternoon exploring Eastriggs and listening to all the things that Sheila had to say.  Sadly, it was not long after this that Sheila’s health declined and she passed away much to the sadness of all at the Museum.

Vancouver Road as shown in an Auction Book from 1924 (when the Factory and townships were sold).

In case you aren’t aware, Eastriggs was built in World War One to house workers at HM Factory Gretna.  It originally had a cinema, dance hall, fire station and other amenities such as hostels for the workers.  The township was built along garden city principles and is named ‘The Commonwealth Village’ because its street names reflect the global nature of the workforce in the Factory (people came from India, Australia, South Africa etc. to contribute to the war effort here).

The young people involved have been working on and off on this map project for a year (there have been lots of interruptions due to study leave, people going to university etc.) but we have finally got an online version of the map in a condition to share with you.

Snow on The Ridge. Date unknown.

You will find photographs and information online (155 posts in total) here:,-3.169917,11/bounds/54.828984,-3.34302,55.14151,-2.996814/paging/1/pin/1128318

On some photos, you can compare the historic images with the current google street view image.   The photos date from different decades and there is information relating to who lived in some of the houses too.

The Green, Eastriggs, still recognisable today, it was originally built in World War One to include shops, a bank, cinema and dairy.

This project is by no means complete – we find out more every day and we will continue to add it to this website.  Members of the public can also share their own photographs and information to create a hub of Eastriggs history.

This map is not quite perfect but please do bear in mind that it was made completely for free by our young volunteers.  The important thing is that we are making as much information available to the public as possible – hope you enjoy having a look through it!

You can buy a paper copy of Sheila’s map here:

Eastriggs Commonwealth Walk Guide

Gretna girls in World War One

“The female excess”: the ‘problem’ of too many single women after World War One

By Collections blog

The Devil’s Porridge Museum’s main focus is on HM Factory Gretna, the greatest factory on earth in World War One.  It employed 30,000 people in the production of cordite (aka the devil’s porridge).  12,000 of these workers were women.

women who worked at hm factory gretna

A display within the Museum.

The majority of female workers were single and young.  We know that some women married while they working at Gretna and there were married women and those who had been widowed due to the War working at the Factory but the majority of the girls were probably affected by the post-War shortage of men.  The ‘lost generation’ i.e. the young men who died in the War meant that a lot of women remained unmarried and single women were perceived as a ‘problem’.

This article from the Times Newspaper in 1920 (published recently in their archive section), makes the point clear.  One cannot help but think of the 12,000 ‘Gretna Girls’.  They did so much to help win the War and it continue to impact on their lives in the decades to come.

1920s girl and the elusive male

This poem, written during the War by one of the female workers sums up how many of the girls may have felt: they were doing their duty, waiting for the boys to come home.  Sadly, many of the boys never did return and the course of the girls’ lives did not run in the way they had anticipated.

bravo gretna poem

If you would like to know more about the Lives of some of the Gretna Girls who made munitions at HM Factory Gretna in World War One, you might like this booklet (available from our online shop):

Lives of Ten Gretna Girls booklet

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