War Is Over for munitions base
A new exhibition opens at the Devil’s Porridge Museum in Eastriggs this weekend to commemorate 100 years since the Armistice.
The War is Over uses a lot of original material from the First World War and has involved lots of research by the custodians of the museum dedicated to the cordite factory which helped win the war.
Museum manager Judith Hewitt said:“It tells the fascinating story of Armistice Day at HM Factory Gretna, the thoughts of the workforce and the immediate aftermath of the peace. Our new
displays explore the Armistice and its aftermath both locally and nationally.
“On November 11th 1918, the guns fell silent and the First World War came to an end. Having completed their huge task of national importance, the munition workers at HM Factory Gretna downed tools and celebrated.
“A brass band paraded through Gretna and Eastriggs, the foreman gave a rousing speech and the munitions girls demanded a dance which 400 people attended. Bunting was everywhere ... the war was over.”
Judith said November 11, 1918, was “a wonderful day” but in the weeks and months to come that elation turned to “doubt and worry”as the future of the biggest munitions factory in the world remained unclear.
In December, 1918, an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 people were made unemployed. The factory workers had come from all corners of the earth to achieve victory for Britain and would scatter again.
Judith said: “We have some wonderful objects from the period including a medal for peace created in Carlisle and newspapers which were printed on November 11, 1918.
“This exhibition offers a snapshot of local life 100 years ago.”
Museum trust chairman Richard Brodie said: “The exhibition is a tribute to the people who lived and worked in Gretna and Eastriggs and turned the tide of the war in Britain’s favour.
“Although most were here for less than three years, their experiences would figure large in their memory for the rest of their lives.
“Before they left, they recorded their tributes in two fascinating souvenir magazines and wrote their notes of friendship in autograph books.
“Copies of these fascinating documents can be seen by visitors.”
Memories Museum manager Judith Hewitt beside some of the War Is Over exhibition