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A selection of items on display in The Devil's Porridge Museum's 1940s house.

Housewife Magazine

By Collections blog

While the Ground Floor of the Museum looks at HM Factory Gretna in World War One, our First Floor galleries consider the impact of conflict on our local area from 1939 onwards.  Many (but not all) of these displays look at the life of women and children in the War including a look at evacuees, life on the Home Front and work done by women in munitions and organisations such as the ATS.

We have many objects in our Museum object store which relate to these topics such as a collection of Housewife Magazine from World War Two.   Despite the old fashioned title and imagery, these images have a certain nostalgia charm.

Some of the adverts from within the magazine are also of interest and give one an insight into life during the Second World War.

Come and visit us when it is safe to do so!  Here is a photo of a visitor enjoying a look at our 1940s kitchen.

If you’d like to know more about World War Two in our region, the following book may be of interest:

The Solway Military Coast book

A babies gas mask on display in The Devil's Porridge Museum.

Gas mask for a baby

By Collections blog

The Devil’s Porridge Museum has several gas masks in its collection, some date from World War One but the majority were made during World War Two.  We have two ‘baby’ gas masks.  One is on display in the Museum’s First Floor Second World War galleries and the other is in our object store (it was recently donated to the Museum and is unusual in that it came in its original box).

We are also fortunate to have a document in the Museum collection which went with gas masks such as these when they were issued. It provides lots of interesting information such as:

-they were issued to the mother on the birth of a child

-the gas mask was issued by he local council and was government property

-it was expected that it would be returned (obviously some weren’t)

-masks such as this were meant to be used for children up to the age of two

Poisoned gas was widely used in World War One and, although its use was banned under the terms of a 1925 Geneva Protocol, both sides in World War Two anticipated its use by their enemies and prepared accordingly.  Changes to aerial warfare meant that civilians could have been targeted and poison gas could have had a devastating impact had it been used on a large urban area.  Fortunately, neither Britain or Germany used poisoned gas on one another during the War (although its possible use was discussed by both sides).

It is estimated that nearly 40 million gas masks were issued during World War Two.  During a recent oral history project, the Museum spoke with a lady from Carlisle, who is now in her 90s.  She remembered getting in trouble for dragging her gas mask along the ground on the way to school.  Her treatment of this piece of (potentially) lifesaving equipment was so careless that she had to have it replaced several times.

The Museum has another gas mask specifically aimed at children on display, this is the ‘Mickey Mouse’ gas mask.  Thankfully gas masks were not used in Britain in World War Two but serve as a grim reminder of the possible horrors of war and the amazing gift of peace in Europe which was achieved on VE Day 75 years ago.

Young visitors (photos above) enjoy putting on replica gas masks (these are completely safe, some World War Two ones have asbestos in them and should not be worn or handled without testing/careful controls).

If you’re interested in the experiences of children in World War Two, the following may be of interest to you:

Bob’s Story

Far from Home

Museum volunteer stood in the evacuee section of The Devil's Porridge Museum.

Barnardo’s child evacuees

By Collections blog

This part of the Devil’s Porridge Museum is the place I find most interesting.


This part of the Museum tells us about the children who came from Barnardo’s orphanages to escape the war. Some came inner city slums and found this as an adventure and a glimpse of a better life. Some had never seen hills or cows and enjoyed the fresh country air.


Barnardo’s was founded by Thomas Barnardo in 1866, to care for vulnerable children. As of 2013 it has raised and spent around £200 million each year running around 900 local services, aimed at helping these same groups. It is the UKs largest children’s charity in terms of charitable expenditure. Its headquarters are in Barkingside in the London Borough of Redbridge.


This part of the museum tells us the story of how some of these children came to Eastriggs, Gretna and the surrounding areas. If you visit the museum you can hear audio accounts from some of the children who have recalled their memories and shared them with us as adults.


Of all the historical events that I can learn about at the Museum I find this section the most interesting.

By Andrew Dill (Devil’s porridge Museum volunteer)

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