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Robin at the entrance to museum in uniform and kilt.

Autism Training

By News

Our volunteers have been keeping busy during lockdown: getting involved in podcast projects and completing online training.  Robin Hall, a Trustee of the Museum, recently completed Autism Training.  He has written about this experience below…

“What do you do when you are in isolation and not able to volunteer at the Devil’s Porridge Museum, Eastriggs? Well I suppose I could do some training. Enhance my knowledge about HM Factory Gretna…

The phone then rings and it is Steven, the Access and Learning Officer from the Museum wanting to know if I would like to do an online training course about Autism

Like many of our volunteers, I regularly assist with group and school visits to the Museum.   Some of the visitors are on the autistic spectrum and I have limited knowledge of how to interact with them.

In 2019, we had a school group visiting and an incident led to a young boy in the group who was autistic becoming very upset. I did not know how to deal with him.  I also have a grandson who is autistic and find it difficult to communicate with him at times.

So, it was a bit of a no brainier the Museum was offering me a training course and I was looking for something to do during the lockdown.

Robin with Museum Chairman, Richard Brodie.

I completed the course and passed the eight module assessments and final examination.  The course included modules such as diagnosing autism, what causes autism and autistic behaviours. I was awarded a certificate for my efforts having achieved 93%.  I now have a much better understanding of autism which effects one in every hundred people in UK.

I am now 68 years old and still learning. There are further courses in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Dyslexia which I am interested in. I would like to look into becoming the Special Education Needs Co Ordinator for the Museum and work with my colleagues to develop resources for autistic visitors to use.

There are lots of autistic children who are not getting the help they need due to a lack of knowledge. If one in a hundred children is autistic you may know someone who needs help.  Thanks to The Devil’s Porridge Museum I hope to be able to help some of them.”

Thanks to Robin for this account and well done to him and his lovely wife, Wendy, for both passing this course.

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)

A haaf netter carrying a net across a beach.

Objects for Haaf Net fishing

By Collections blog

This post was written by Lukasz, who volunteers with us every Thursday from Annan Academy.

The Museum currently has an exhibition on display which shows Haaf Net Fishing. On Monday 13th of January 2020, several fishermen visited the museum (see photographs below) one of them loaned us this interesting objects which we aim to put on display soon.  These items belonged to his father and we are delighted to have them on loan.

haaf netters at the devils porridge museum

Haaf Net Fishing is a Norse style of fishing that was adopted by the people of this local area of Solway Firth after Viking settlements and it involves the person going to the middle of the body of water with a big net than the person would place the net under the water then when a fish is caught the net is taken out of the water.

haaf net fishing needles

These objects (photographed above) are what was used to ‘knit’ the net used for this style of fishing because the people of the area had to make their own net out of hemp.  The net would be knitted by the fisherman and his wife. This six objects are three knitting needles (bottom of photo) and three measures (top of the photo).  One measure to make nets catching salmon (top left), one for nets for catching trout (middle top) and one for nets catching baby trout (top right).

For more information on haaf netting, see:

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