Skip to main content

Online event

Poster for The End of the Old Cold War, the Collapse of the Soviet Union, and the Origins of the New Cold War, a free online talk that took place on Thursday 22nd September 2022.

The End of the old Cold War, the Collapse of the Soviet Union, & the origins of the new Cold War

By Events

Thursday 22nd September 2022


Book your place for this online talk here>

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

Archie Brown will argue that some of the most popular explanations of the end of the Cold War are very misleading. He will explain how the decisive role played by Mikhail Gorbachev was far from preordained, and he will note surprising elements in the parts played by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. The collapse of the Soviet Union is not identical with the end of the Cold War, but there was a connection between the two. The ending of the Cold War accelerated the Soviet breakup. The high hopes of harmony between Russia and the West, which existed from 1988 to 1991, and for a short time thereafter, have been dashed. Failures on both sides in the post-Soviet era (1992-2022) have led us into a new Cold War, a brutal hot war in Ukraine, and an increased danger of catastrophic nuclear war, involving the rest of Europe and the United States.



Biography: Archie Brown was born in Annan in 1938, attended Annan Academy, and spent the first eighteen years of his life in his hometown. Following National Service in the army, he studied at the London School of Economics, and became a Lecturer in Politics at Glasgow University in 1964. During the 1967-68 academic year he was a British Council exchange scholar at Moscow University. In 1971 he left Glasgow to teach at Oxford University, having been elected to a Fellowship of St Antony’s College. He has been there ever since, but with frequent research travel to the Communist world (especially the Soviet Union but including China) and to post-Soviet Russia. He has spent up to a year at a time in Visiting Professorships at American universities – Yale, the University of Connecticut, Columbia University (New York), the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Notre Dame (Indiana).

Professor Brown was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1991 and as an International Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2003. He was awarded a CMG in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List of 2005. Archie Brown is the author of numerous books and articles, of which the most recent is The Human Factor: Gorbachev, Reagan, and Thatcher, and the End of the Cold War (Oxford University Press paperback, 2022) (OUPBlackwellsWaterstonesAmazon).

His other recent books include The Myth of the Strong Leader: Political Leadership in the Modern Age (2014; Vintage paperback with updating new Foreword, 2018) which was chosen by Bill Gates as a Book of the Year; and The Rise and Fall of Communism (Vintage paperback, 2010) which won the W.J.M. Mackenzie Prize of the Political Studies Association for best Politics book of the year and the Alec Nove Prize of the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies for best book on Russia, Communism or Post-Communism.

Canary Girls poster for online talk which happened in 2022.

Canary Girls Online Talk

By Events

Thursday 9th June 2022

Canary Girls – the forgotten heroines of WW1 and WW2


Learn about the important role that munitions workers had in both World Wars & the Canary Girls project which campagins for a memorial to them in the FREE online talk.


Book your place and learn more here>

The talk will :-

• Introduce a Canary Girls project, started in Cumbria, campaigning for a memorial to the munitions workers, mainly women, of both World Wars in the National Memorial Arboretum.

• Explain what the women were actually doing in the factories in both world wars; where the nickname Canary Girls came from and the risks they faced daily.

• Look at the precedents they set in challenging gender roles and social class in fashion, sport, factory design and working conditions for women.

• Consider why they are called the forgotten heroines and finally, look at how they have been and are being remembered.

The talk will be given by Valerie Welti. After over 30 years as a teacher in London, in her retirement in Cumbria she has taken on various voluntary roles. One of which, with the Canary Girls Memorial Project, has reignited her interest in history.


The Extraordinary Life of the Drummond Sisters online talk poster

The Extraordinary Life of the Drummond Sisters.

By Events

24th May 2022.

The Extraordinary Life of the Drummond Sisters: From Queen Victoria to HM Factory Gretna.

Book your place and learn more here:

We’re delighted to announce our first event that is happening both in person at The Devil’s Porridge Museum and online on Zoom. Tickets cost £3.

Hear the story of the god daughter of Queen Victoria who became the first female Marine Engineer in Britain and the first woman to be accepted into the Institute of Marine Engineers.

From a quiet early life at Megginch Castle Perth-shire she went on to serve an engineering apprenticeship in Perth & Dundee, overcoming the early prejudice of the engineering world to sail as 2nd Engineer on both Arctic and Atlantic convoys during World War 2 receiving commendations for her action under enemy fire.

With her sister Jean, who had worked at the munitions factory at Gretna during World War One producing ‘The Devil’s Porridge’, she also established the ‘Victoria Drummond Canteen’ in Lambeth which provided food to victims of the London Blitz throughout World War Two.

The Extraordinary Life of the Drummond Sisters talk will be given by Neil McGarva, who as well as spending 40 years working in the Nuclear Industry has also been involve with the Devil’s Porridge Museum since it started 25 years ago as a small exhibition in a local church, and is currently the museum secretary.

If you chose to attend The Extraordinary Life of the Drummond Sisters talk online the Zoom link will be sent out on the day.

Tickets for those who choose to attend the talk in person at The Devil’s Porridge Museum will be sent out on the day.

Some soldiers carved into stone.

Online Talks 2022

By Events

The Devil’s Porridge Museum is pleased to continue it’s popular programme of online talks and events for 2022. These online talks are all about  a subject which links to local history or the themes of the Museum. All events are free.

Tickets are now avalible for the following online talks.


From the Western Front to the Scottish National War Memorial

Tuseday 12th April 2022.

Book on Eventbrite here:


The story of illustrator Morris Meredith Williams and his wife and creative collaborator, sculptor Alice Meredith Williams ARBS.


In the run-up to the First World War, artists Morris and Alice Meredith Williams were leading a quiet life in Edinburgh. He was illustrating books and teaching drawing at Fettes College. She was making small, often whimsical, sculptures in clay and bronze, and designing stained glass windows.


The outbreak of war changed everything. Morris spent four years in the army, three of them in France – first in the infantry, then the artillery and finally, in a camouflage unit. When not on duty, he filled pocket-sized sketchbooks with detailed pencil drawings of his fellow soldiers and their surroundings. Alice’s work slowed down until, in 1917, she was asked by the Women’s Work Sub Committee of the Imperial War Museum to model a collection of 3D plaster panoramas of the roles played by women during the war. The Scottish architect Sir Robert Lorimer was impressed by them and invited her to collaborate on a war memorial for a town in South Africa. It was Alice’s first large-scale work and led to commissions for the Paisley War Memorial and for the Scottish National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle. Here, the marriage of Morris’s painstaking draughtsmanship and Alice’s brilliance as a sculptor produced the remarkable the frieze around at the centre of the memorial.


This talk will be delivered by Phyllida Shaw.

Phyllida Shaw studied history and French at Lancaster University and has worked for 35 years as a researcher, writer and facilitator in the arts and voluntary sector. She inherited the First World War sketchbooks and letters of Morris Meredith Williams from her great aunt (Williams’ second wife). She is the author of An Artist’s War. The art and letters of Morris and Alice Meredith Williams (The History Press, 2017) and Undaunted Spirit. The art and craft of Gertrude Alice Meredith Williams (Independent Publishing Network, 2018). She has given talks on these two extraordinary artists for the National Archives, the Royal Society of Sculptors, the National Galleries of Scotland, the Public Statues and Sculpture Association, the Western Front Association and literature festivals in Henley, Lichfield and Taunton.

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

The royal visit to H.M. Factory Gretna during World War One with lots of happy munition workers.

The Miracle Workers Project Update: Mini-Conference

By Events
A chance to hear about the excellent historical research done so far on The Miracle Workers Project in a free online event.



In March 2021, The Devil’s Porridge Museum launched it’s Miracle Workers Project, which aimed to research the 30,000 people who worked at H. M. Factory Gretna during World War One. Thanks to a generous grant from the D&G Costal Communities Fund, volunteers at the museum have been systematically researching and compiling information on those who worked at Gretna.

This free online event will share what the volunteers have uncovered so far, from women’s football teams at the factory to police to explosives and chemists. We will also be hearing from Dr Chris Brader, who wrote his thesis on the women workers at Gretna, who will be speaking about his research.

10AM – 11AM – short, informal talks by our volunteers, sharing their research.

11AM-11:45AM – talk by Dr Chris Brader, with time for questions.

Booking your free place on eventbrite here:

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

Some children's artwork on a wall in The Devil's Porridge Museum.

The Devils Porridge Online Events

By Events

While the Museum is closed we have decided to run some of our Kids Clubs online, these clubs will be broadcast on Facebook live or just posted as a video on Facebook around the time tha. In addition to our online Book Bug sessions we are also going to be running other weekly online activities . On Tuesday afternoons we will be posting an Arts and Crafts video taking viewers through each step in different craft project each week, Wednesday morning at 9.30 our Facebook live book bug sessions will take place, on Thursday afternoons as part of our Young Historians Club a new history activity sheet will be made available on our website and through a link on our Facebook page and on Friday afternoon via our Facebook page we will either have colouring activities or a drawing workshop video.


Tuesdays – Posting an afternoon Arts and Crafts video taking viewers through each step in different crafts projects each week.

Wednesdays – Tune into our Facebook live Bookbug session at 9.30am


Thursdays – For our Young Historians club a new history activity sheet will be made available on our website and on Facebook.

Fridays – On our Facebook page will have either colouring activities or a drawing workshop video.

Translate »