Lady Haig's Poppy Factory
Posted on 31st October 2020 at 14:07
In February 1926 Lady Haig, a member of the Honourable Fraternity of Antient Masonry (now known as ‘The Order of Women Freemasons’), established the Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory (Poppy Scotland) in Edinburgh and designed a poppy for Scotland.
Scarlet corn poppies grow naturally in conditions of disturbed earth throughout Western Europe. In late 1914, the fields of Northern France and Flanders were once again ripped open as World War One raged through Europe's heart. Once the conflict was over the poppy was one of the only plants to grow on the otherwise barren battlefields and quickly became a lasting memorial to those who died in World War One and later conflicts.
After the war the British Commander on the Western Front, Earl Haig, devoted his life to the welfare of ex-servicemen, setting up the Haig Fund which gave financial assistance to ex-soldiers and the Royal British Legion. The main source of funding for these charities was (and is) sales of poppies during the annual Poppy Appeal.
In February 1926 Lady Haig established the Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory initially employing two men who made the poppies using paper and scissors. Later due to a high demand for the poppies, many more disabled ex-servicemen were employed.
At the same time as the factory was opened Lady Haig designed a slightly different style of poppy for sale in Scotland – the ‘Poppy Scotland’ is without a green leaf and is still worn today.
Lady Haig took a great personal interest in the factory and the appeal, even to the extent of walking along Princes Street, Edinburgh, with a sandwich board advertising a sale of work.
The philanthropic arm of the Honourable Fraternity of Antient Masonry during the 1930s was called the ‘Bureau of Service’ and although it is not mentioned as one of the main sections of their work, a Report in the Order’s journal The Gavel in December 1930 briefly mentions that: ‘We have again provided helpers for clerical work in connection with Earl Haig’s Fund for Poppy Day…’.
Poppy Scotland continues to support the Armed Forces by providing funding to thousands of ex-Servicemen and women as well as other vital services in advice, employment, mobility, housing and mental health support.
“Every year the nation unites to make sure that no-one is forgotten and to remember and honour those who have sacrificed themselves to secure and protect our freedom. Remembrance does not glorify war and its symbol, the red poppy, is a sign of both Remembrance and hope for a peaceful future.” (www.britishlegion.org.uk)
Sources: Order of Women Freemasons archives and www.poppyscotland.org.uk
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