The Spirit of the Cracker Packers

The Spirit of the Cracker Packers takes a closer look at the workforce that inspired the creation of the Cracker Packers statue that now stands close to the McVitie’s factory in Caldewgate.

A ‘Cracker Packer’ is the affectionate term for the female factory workers at the Carr’s Biscuit Factory.

“My generation always had somebody or knew somebody who worked at Carr’s. It’s a Carlisle story, and it’s a women’s story. You look at all the good and the great statues and they’re all men. But the good and the great in this part are women.” - Elsie Martlew, 2017

This webpage has been put together with women from the McVitie’s Retirees Group and is supported by the HLF and Carlisle City Council

The Spirit of the Cracker Packers brings together images, oral histories and documents revealing stories past and present, that tell us about what life was really like inside the factory.

“Looking back, they were happy days being a cracker packer, with plenty of crack and laughs. Every time I eat a biscuit, I remember my work days.” - Avril, 201

Illustration: Courtesy of Sandra Reeves


Bring the exhibition to your community venue

Spirit of the Cracker Packers was developed as an exhibition to tour community venues, and is available for display at a venue near you.

The touring exhibition pack contains everythig you need to tell this compelling and important story for Carlisle.  The content can be adapted to fit a wide range of spaces, and includes colourful and engaging information banners, a listening station and can include objects and display case. We also offer an exhibtion for schools and a loan box for memory sharing within community settings. 

Please contact for more information.

Exhibition gallery

Listen to our audio archive