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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

HM Factory Gretna


smithybrow
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Looking for any info regarding John Harkness , manager of Gretna site during WW1, died in Ayr aged 45 in 1923. Researching as part of a research project with Devils Porridge museum Eastriggs. 

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2 hours ago, smithybrow said:

Looking for any info

Welcome smithybrow,

I think you are best looking for newspaper clippings- there seem to be a number on eg FindmyPast such as this, showing Factory service throughout the war:

95420734_GWFGretnaHarknessObit.JPG.a767dadc35255ebac988d7a4d5127531.JPG

 

 

Charlie

Edited by charlie962
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Thank you for this. I started with the papers and found this as well as a similar account in the Scotsman. I am really wanting to know what took him to Gretna, where he lived when he was there. He was from nearby Glencairn I have discovered , so a Dumfriesshire lad. 
was he approached by the ministry -what had he done of note to be given the job of town manager whatever that entailed. He must have already been married by the time the factory opened. 

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6 minutes ago, smithybrow said:

what had he done of note to be given the job of town manager

So you probably saw this obit for his predecessor Aitken, who was also FSI

 

712824481_GWFGretnaHarknessPredecessor.JPG.28061a82e50815d18434e36eb25b52ca.JPG

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Oh- what a star you are!!! I hadn’t got this far - I was only given his name yesterday from the Devil’s Porridge Museum Miracle Worker’s research project. 
maybe you should sign up??? They are wanting to find out about the thousands of workers that they know nothing about. Thank you. Huge help. 

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Interesting to read some of the notes on the Devil's Porridge site.

 

If you search for "Gretna" on our Forum you will find mention of a number of workers who have previously been subject of research.

 

I post here, as background, a couple of points on the Township, from the Porridge site:

 

The township of Gretna was built during the First World War to house many of the workers who produced cordite at the ‘greatest munitions factory on Earth’ which straddled the Scottish-English border. You might be forgiven if you had thought that Gretna and its twin township of Eastriggs would be constructed on a functional basis with little attention to detail. This was the case in the early days when a huge timber town was built on a grid system for the labourers and tradesmen, but, so intent was the Government on retaining the vital workforce, that it brought in the best town planners and architects to provide pleasant accommodation. Raymond Unwin, a disciple of Ebenezer Howard and his revolutionary Garden City movement, used his experience of creating Letchworth Garden City to construct two well-planned permanent small towns which provided all the amenities which the thousands of munitions employees could possibly desire. In partnership with top architect Courtney Crickmer, they created a settlement of well-designed cottages with an impressive array of public buildings, including three churches, a huge dance hall, an institute, cinema and a variety of shops. Not only that, but the shortage and expense of timber meant that the buildings were constructed in traditional red brick, a material more traditionally used in England. Eastriggs and Gretna were built with wide tree lined streets, sweeping crescents and cul-de-sacs flanked by modern buildings which boasted indoor sanitation and even electricity, a modern innovation for the time.

 

1117321766_GWFGretnaHarknessTownMap1918.JPG.2265526154c64146b7606d822a89bea6.JPG

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