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State Management

Recent Donation of State Management Labels

By Collections blog

These State Management labels were donated to the Museum recently and feature many different types of alcohol which would be sold at pubs in Cumbria and South West Scotland. These items belonged to a gentleman who was the Head Maltster working in State Management. He worked there from the end of the Second World War until it closed in the 1970s, these items were donated to us by his granddaughter.

The state management of alcohol scheme or the ‘Carlisle Experiment’ saw the government take over many local pubs in the First World War and stop the sale of normal alcohol to substitute it with watered down state made alcohol. This was done to try and deter people from drinking in key areas related to the war, this was done in South Scotland and Cumbria because of HM Factory Gretna (The Devils Porridge Museum tells its story). The State Management scheme lasted from 1915 until around the 1970s, we think the labels which have been donated to us may be from the late 1960’s. Below you can see some of the labels above on bottles which were donated to the Museum from the State Management Scheme which we have on display at the Museum along with a few other bottles of Brandy.

The labels which were donated are of many different types of alcohol and soft drinks.  Alcohol was controlled during state management and includes many brands which people may recognise along with a few which were produced by the Government and made in Carlisle.



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

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