Blog Archives

Object of the Month – August

The winner of this month’s object of the month vote is…


Flight Lieutenant Tadecusz Felc’s Royal Air Force Uniform

This object is an iconic symbol of allied forces in the Second World War and has a great story attached to it. Curator of Social History Edwin Rutherford gives us the low down on the uniform and the man who wore it.

“Tadecusz Felc (1919-1964) was a Polish Spitfire Pilot of 317 (Polish) Squadron. His squadron flew from many British airbases throughout the Second World War (1939-1945), but RAF Kingstown near Carlisle became its main base.

The bands on the tunic’s arm show his rank, while the coloured bars above the right pocket show which campaigns the owner fought in. The distinctive RAF eagle badge can clearly be seen above the the campaign bars along with the Polish Air Force medal below.

Tadecusz Felc’s war started in Poland when the airfield he was training at was attacked by the German air force, the Luftwaffe. as his home country was overrun he volunteered to join the allies, and completed his pilot training in Britain.

He joined 317 Squadron which had several duties:

  • Protecting convoys of supply ships to Britain
  • Provideing air cover against German bombing raids
  • Providing fighter protection to allied bombers

IMG_0190During one of these bomber escort missions his Spitfire was shot down. Captured by the Germans he was taken to the prisoner of war camp Stalag Luft III where he assisted in the Great Escape by depositing soil from the tunnels Tom, Dick and Harry.

After surviving an infamous forced march Tadecusz Felc was liberated in May 1945. He went back to Cumbria to the Carlisle girl he had married three weeks before he was shot down.”


Object of the Month – April

As we hop into April, we have a new Object of the Month on display in our Rear Atrium, this month’s object from our stores is …

State Management Beer BottleIMGP6227

This bottle of Nut Brown beer was sold in Carlisle during the era of State Management (1916-1971).

Edwin, our Keeper of Social History tells us a little more about the fascinating history behind this month’s Object of the Month.

IMGP6234The Central Control Board (Liquor Traffic) was set up during by the British Government during World War I to regulate alcohol consumption in areas near major munitions factories and naval docks. In 1915 the Board took over ownership of Carlisle’s pubs, hotels and breweries nuder the defence of the Realm Act.

Carlisle had 119 public houses and 4 breweries serving a population of 50,000. There was also a surge in the population of the city due to an influx of labourers building the vast HM Gretna Munitions Factory. Many of these navvies visited the local pubs and there was a rise in drunkeness and anti social behaviour. In 1916 the Carlisle State Management bought up all the existing pubs and breweries. Pubs were closed down or reformed and managed by the State.

‘The Carlisle Experiment’ lasted until 1971 when the state-owned breweries and pubs were sold off. The legacy of the scheme lives on in the New Model Inns designed by Harry Redfern during the 1920s and 1930s; pubs like the Apple Tree and the Cumberland Inn in the city centre and others in the suburbs.

Next year is the 100th Anniversary of the start of State Management in Carlisle – if you have any objects or stories from this fascinated era of our history then please get in touch with the museum via

You can now vote for the Object of the Month at

Object of the Month – March

Another month, another Object of the Month!

March’s Object of the Month has come from our costume collection, a rare bonnet from the 1840s.


Etiquette demanded that your head should be covered in the 19th century. In the 1840s women wore lace caps indoors and bonnets outdoors. Fashion followed the young Queen Victoria and it was considered proper for a woman to shelter her face with a wide bonnet brim like this example.

Headwear fashion changed more often than other items of clothing. Hat styles changed annually but dresses lasted a decade. Although the bonnet shape stayed the same it was regularly updated with new trimmings and fabrics. Most women purchased a new hat each year. The less well off made do by covering an old hat themselves. Traditionally new clothes would be worn to the Easter service, for many this meant a new bonnet at Easter.

This rare bonnet is made from cane and net covered with brown velvet and silk.

Object of the Month – February

Every month our curators choose an object from our stores to put on public display in our Object of the Month case, in the Rear Atrium (by the back doors into the gardens).

February’s object is … Jerimiah Whirlings’ Watch

Jeremiah Whirling's Pocket Watch

A highly decorative pocket watch made from shark skin and gold by Thomas Nash of London. This watch belonged to Jerimiah Wherlings who was Mayor of the city seven times between 1770 and 1801 and was linked to the Earl of Lonsdale’s Tory interests. Sir James Lowther, Earl of Lonsdale (1736-1802) may have presented this decorative watch to Wherlings as a token of thanks for continuing political support in the 1780s..

Lowther was known in Whig circles as ‘Wicked Jimmy’ and the ‘Tyrant of the North’ due to his manipulation iof local elections and his reputation as a dueller and womaniser. In the 1785 election Mayor Wherlings admitted 1,443 mushroom (bogus) voters as Freemen of the City to secure a victory for the Tory part. None of these men were qualified to be Freemen either by birth or occupation. Instead all worked in lord Lonsdale’s West Cumbrian coal mines. In symbolic terms mushrooms were seen to corrupt the tree of libery and illegal voters, thus obtaining this fungal nickname.

A Parliamentary Select Committee overturned the results of this fixed election in 1785 and others in 1786 and 1790. The third ‘mushroom’ election of 1790 led to an angry mob of Whig supporters partially demolishing Sir James Lowther’s townhouse on Fisher Street, Carlisle.

Because of these electoral scandals and his association with the Lowther political campaigns Jerimiah Wherlings was given the nickname ‘Red Nosed Jerry’ in Carlisle.

%d bloggers like this: