What is the 'Devil's Porridge'?

Discussion in 'World War 1' started by liverpool annie, Apr 21, 2009.

  1. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    Can you imagine .... 5 pounds a week .... and the danger involved .... :eek:

    During the early stages of the First World War the crisis in munitions shortage was quickly realised and acted upon under the hand of Lloyd George who was made Minister for Munitions and charged with sorting the problem. A site was looked for to house a huge cordite making munitions factory, and Eastriggs to the west of Gretna Green seemed the perfect Green Field site - it was shadowed by a number of hills (Cumbrian Mountains, the Pennines and the Cheviots) so had good cloud cover to deter attack. The area also benefitted from a good railway service, little other industrial development and those in command knew there would be a huge pool of workers both locally and further afield around Scotland.

    The Dornock Munitions Factory was built at Gretna in 1915 and it stretched from Dornock across Eastriggs and Gretna to Longtown. Many of the 30,000 migrant worker that came to do the dangerous work at Dornock Munitions Factory were women - as the poem above reflects, the higher wages for working here were a big pull. Many of these working class women had been in domestic service - earning five pounds a week making munitions would have far exceeded wages in domestic service and other factory work.

    Journalist and feminist Rebecca West visited the HM Factory Gretna in 1916 and wrote an article - The Cordite Makers. In it she give details on the long hours worked and dangers, but it's clear that women workers here wanted the long hours to earn the extra money, "Every morning at six, .... 250 of these girls are fetched by a light railway from their barracks on a hill two miles away. When I visited the works they had already been at work for nine hours, and would work for three more. This twelve-hour shift is longer than one would wish, but it is not possible to introduce three shifts, since the girls would find an eight-hour day too light and would complain of being debarred from the opportunity of making more money; (Rebecca West, 1916).
  2. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

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