National Museum of Costume, New Abbey, Dumfries
Former members of the Scottish Women’s Land Army and the Women’s Timber Corps are being offered free entry to an exhibition that highlights the vital contribution of both organisations to the nation’s war effort.
Land Girls and Lumber Jills will open at the National Museum of Costume at New Abbey, near Dumfries on Friday 1 April. It explores the history of both organisations, which were formed in 1917, active in both World Wars and played a crucial role on the home front.
Land girls took on all types of agricultural work from sowing to harvesting and calving to shearing, whilst the Women’s Timber Corps worked in the forests supplying wood for use in everything from railway sleepers to pit props. Some volunteered while others were conscripted, as by 1941 all women under the age of 60, without children under 14, could be called up for essential war work.
Visitors to the exhibition can see a selection of colourful wartime recruitment posters, discover the history of the two organisations and learn first-hand about the experiences of three Land Army girls and a Timber Jill. Objects on display will include a Land Army dress uniform and a milking jacket, a selection of working tools and one of the medals recently awarded by the British Government. The objects will be brought to life through the use of personal testimonies and audio recordings.
The exhibition was first shown at the National War Museum in Edinburgh in 2010 where it attracted over 500,000 visitors. New elements added for its display at the National Museum of Costume include information about the role of make-up in the war effort and examples of remodelled outfits including a dress made from furnishing fabrics to demonstrate the Make do and Mend culture of the era. Some examples of clothing from the government’s Utility Scheme will also feature.
Elaine Edwards, Curator, Land Girls and Lumber Jills said:
‘These women were the backbone of the war effort on the home front, providing essential wood and home-grown food while their husbands and brothers fought for King and country. This exhibition highlights their important contribution to the war effort as well as the reality of their day-to-day lives. We hope as many visitors as possible we come along and learn more about the vital role their friends, mothers and grandmothers played. We also hope that Land Girls and Lumber Jills from across the country will take us up on our offer of free entry to this fascinating exhibition.’
Girls who joined were often very young and away from home for the first time, so they experienced homesickness as well as unfamiliar faces, surroundings and jobs. Many had swapped their town life for the countryside, which was a shock to some but healthy outdoor fun for others. Many marriages forestry colleagues who came from abroad to assist with the war effort.
The vital hard work and commitment of these women was publicly recognised in 2008 when they were issued with a medal and a certificate of thanks from Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
Land Girls and Lumber Jills at the National Museum of Costume runs from Friday 1 April until Monday 31 October. Former Land Girls and Lumber Jills will receive free entry to the exhibition on production of their recognition medal or certificate.
Normal museum admission: Adult £4.50, Concession £3.50, Child £2, Child under 5 free
National Museum of Costume
Dumfriesshire, DG2 8HQ
Tel: 0131 247 4030
Museum open daily from 1 April to 31 October, 10:00-17:00.