The Devil’s Porridge Museum is a 5 star rated attraction which regularly tops the list of things to do in Dumfries and Galloway on Trip Advisor. It has recently been shortlisted for the ‘Most Family Friendly Museum in the UK’ award.
“There were over 800 nominations and we made it to the final 15 museums” said Judith Hewitt, Museum Manager. “It would be amazing to win but just to make it this far shows how much there is to do for people of all ages at our wonderful museum.”
The Museum has done everything it can to be Covid secure. This includes having cleaners on site during opening hours, an online booking system to avoid overcrowding and signing up to the 'We're Good to Go" scheme and fulfilling its requirements.
The main story the museum tells is of HM Factory Gretna which was the largest munitions factory on earth in World War One. Here it was that the devil’s porridge was mixed by 12,000 women, the so-called ‘Gretna Girls’. The term the ‘devil’s porridge’ was coined by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle when he visited, he saw the women mixing a lumpy white substance in large pots and thought it looked like porridge ‘but of a devilish sort!’ The factory was actually dedicated to the production of cordite, an explosive which went inside every bullet and shell used in World War One.
When you visit the museum, you can see the original pots used by the girls to mix the porridge as well as learn how it was made using our interactive touch screen games. People came from all over to work in the factory: There were accidents and explosions: one young 17 year old girl from Keswick lost her arm.
The factory spread over the Anglo-Scottish border and transformed this whole area. Two townships were built to house the workers, hundreds of lines of railway were laid, 16 stations were built, there were dance halls, shops, hospitals, a dentist, maternity unit and two cinemas. As a result of the influx of people and their drinking habits, the government took control of alcohol and this stayed in place as the State Management scheme until 1973. The girls were monitored and kept in line as well with over 150 members of the women’s police force there to enforce curfews and police morals!
The Devil’s Porridge Museum tells this story and so much more. “Our upstairs gallery is all about this part of Britain from 1939 onwards. The region made an immense contribution to World War Two and our visitors can find out about local RAF bases, the experiences of evacuees from Glasgow to rural Dumfries and Galloway and the treatment of Prisoners of War. Many people particularly enjoy our 1940s house which is a real walk down memory lane for older visitors and can be a culture shock to younger ones!”
The museum has a café, shop, ample car parking spaces and is fully accessible for wheelchair users. A great day out for everyone.
The Devil's Porridge Museum, Annan Road, Eastriggs, DG12 6TF