This Week in World War One, 10 August 1917








A large concourse of townspeople and visitors assembled at the Band Stand, Berwick, on Sunday, at the meeting to commemorate the third anniversary of the outbreak of war.

Mathew Ross, Esq., Sheriff, presided in the absence of the mayor who is presently on holiday, and almost all the local clergy were present.

A large united choir sustained the musical part of the programme and its efforts were heartily appreciated. The Rev. R. W. de la Hey, M.A., read a portion of the scriptures. Speaking to the terms of a resolution proposed, Rev. F. T. Williams, Spittal, gave an impressive and inspiring address. Prayer was offered by Rev. C. L. Stowe, Berwick, and Rev. R. C. Inglis, Berwick, and at the close the National Anthem was sung.

The proceedings opened with the singing of the grand old paraphrase, “O God of Bethel”, and its soothing words were most apt in the terrible times through which we are passing. This was followed by an appropriate passage of scripture read by the Vicar of Berwick (Rev. R. W. de la Hey), Rev. R. C. Inglis then leading in prayer. After a few well-chosen remarks by the Chairman (Sheriff Matthew Ross), the hymn “Onward, Christian Soldiers” was sung.


Corporal William Conway


Corporal William Conway, M.G. Corps, only surviving son of Mr and Mrs John Conway, Low Greens, Berwick, who was recently wounded in the shoulder in action in France and has been treated in hospital in this country, has been with us in the town, on leave, and wearing the ribband of the Military Medal which has been awarded for good work with the “guns” in the field.

© Wikimedia Commons, Author: National Library of Scotland, no known copyright.


Corporal Conway was one of the old volunteer company who went from Berwick to the South African War, the medals for which campaign he holds. At the outbreak of war he rejoined the army and was posed to the K.O.S.B. with whom he trained at Edinburgh. Later being transferred to the M. G. Corps, he served his course at Portland and Grantham, and proceeded into France this year. Prior to enlisting Corporal Conway was employed by Berwick Corporation. We are sure our numerous readers will join with us in congratulating him on his recovery and on the distinction which has been awarded for gallant conduct.



Another Accident on Wooler Bridge – On Sunday night another of these nasty accidents which are happening too frequently occurred on the bridge crossing the Wooler water on the main road. It seems that a motor car and motor cycle were approaching in opposite directions, where it is impossible through the bend and rise at each end of the bridge, to see any vehicle coming, the consequence was that they met in the centre of the bridge with the result that the “byke” was smashed very badly, while the rider Mr Brown of Sunderland, was considerably bruised and shaken and but for his presence of mind in throwing himself off his injuries would certainly have been much more serious. This is a really dangerous place as the numerous accidents testify and the county authorities ought to take the mater up and see if something cannot be done to lessen the danger.

Berwick Prisoners of War Committee – This Committee has now accomplished six months’ work, and thinks it may be of interest to the public, who have so generously supported the Fund, to know that during this time it has sent to the various regimental centres the sum of £171 2s 3d. Nearly all this money has gone to the support of local men, and men attached to local regiments, several of whom are wholly or partially adopted by the Fund, or adopters through the Fund. Owing to the continuance of the War, further contributions will be most welcome, and any information regarding local prisoners will be gratefully received by members Committee or the hon. secy., Mrs Plenderleith.




On Thursday last a highly successful sale of work took place under the auspices of St Paul’s Church, Spittal. A large gathering of congregation and friends assembled at the opening ceremony, which was performed by the minister pro tem (Rev. Mr Dobson).

Early photograph of St Paul’s Church, Spittal. © Berwick Record Office, BRO 1887-4-3.

In a few remarks the Rev. gentleman expressed his pleasure at being present that day, and congratulated those who had so generously provided the goods for the sale. He hoped that success, would crown their efforts and that the sale would be an unbounded success. The work of the sale was then embarked upon and the well plenished stalls were soon denuded of much of their contents.

The following were the stall-holders: – Congregational Stall (plain and fancy work) – Mrs Alexander, Mrs Hall, Mrs Thew. Sewing Meeting Stall – Miss Boston, Miss E. Renton. Refreshment Stall – Mrs Douglas, Mrs Sandilands, Mrs Moffat. Dip – Misses Cairns.

During the evening a most enjoyable concert was held, and heartily appreciated by all.

This Week in World War One, 27 July 1917







Tweedmouth Feast has come and gone once more under the shadow of war, and its attractions have in consequence been reduced to a minimum. Visions of the old days, when the festive board groaned under its load of good things, when the douce resident regaled himself with the succulent Tweed salmon, all Tweedmouth and its wife became possessed of the holiday spirit, and “the parish pump ran beer,” for those who cared to partake, have, it appears, passed into the forgotten limbo of the past. Older residents will look back with mixed feelings to the days when some local “drouth” was elected for the day as Mayor of Tweedmouth and driven round the “pubs” of his constituency in state.

A very early photograph of the West End area of Tweedmouth.


This form of cheap comedy is happily known no more, and in the interest of temperance alone it is well to be so. The amount of horse play attached to these proceedings rendered the mortal life of the “mayor” extremely precarious, for it is recorded that after having been reduced to a stage of hopeless intoxication, he was “dipped” in the Tweed and restored by his sudden immersion to a state of partial sobriety. The boat races, quoit mains, and foot races on the green at West End have also (we hope only temporarily) been allowed to lapse, but even amid it all it all there is a feeling which comes to the average “Twepie,” a feeling no doubt born of heredity and environment which sets the “Feast” down as something apart of the calendar of the year’s events.





Not only the charm which the seaside holds for all in the sweltering days of July, drew a large and gala crowd to the foreshore at the Ladies’ Bathing Pond on Monday afternoon, rather we would imagine all were brought thither in the hope of witnessing amid enjoyable surroundings, sport of a first-class character. In the latter they were not disappointed and especially in the 22 yards race for school boys between the ages of 13 and 15 years and the 44 yards race for lads over 14 and under 17 years of age, competition was keen and the finishes of an exciting character.

The ladies’ bathing pond at the Greenses Harbour, where the Swimming Gala took place in 1917. © Berwick Record Office – BRO 1636-9-42


On the whole afternoon there was few surprises packets. Scout Hawkins, as we anticipated, was on the top hole of form, and his victories were indeed popular. A promising first year competitor was Bain Dickinson of St. Mary’s School and from the form which he displayed we should imagine the last has not been heard of him in swimming circles. Young Turnbull, Less and Walkenshaw, also are worthy of note and no doubt their exhibition will have caught the lynx eye of the local handicapper. Pleasure was given to the proceeding by pleasing selections discoursed by the Boy Scouts Pipe Band under Pipe-Mayor Dumbreck, Royal Scots.

At the close of the proceedings the prizes were presented to the successful competitors by the Rev. R. W. de la Hey, who had a pleasant word for each.

Mr Broadbent moved a hearty vote of thanks to the reverend gentleman for having come forward on the absence of D. H. W. Askew, Esq., and who had so pleasingly presented the prizes.




Herring Improving – On Tuesday morning a dozen to fourteen boats arrived at Berwick with from five to fifty crans of herring. The fish were larger and of improved quality, and sold from 27s to 60s per cran

More Herrings – Ten to twelve herring boats arrived at Berwick on Thursday morning with up to 60 crans each; quality poor, and selling a from 4s 6d to11s per cran.

Herring Boats discharging their catch at the Carr Rock, Spittal, in the early 20th century. © Berwick Record Office – BRO 1887-25-1

Salmon Fishing – The salmon catches during the past week have been most unsatisfactory. This is due to the continuous fine weather, which is not conducive to good fishing. River continues in a foul sate. A flood is urgently needed to clean the river. Prices during the week have risen, and on Thursday morning salmon was quoted at 2s 5d per ls; grilse, 2s 2d; and trout, 1s 9d.


Blyth Bathing Disaster 1917

The late Second-Lieut. Kenneth Brown of a Warwickshire Regiment and son of the late Dr D. W. Brown formerly Mayor of Preston was buried at Horton, Northumberland with full military honours. The deceased officer was one of nine victims of the Blyth bathing disaster. Capt. the Rev. Mr Vecschoyle, chaplain to the battalion who was highly commended for his gallantry in attempting to rescue the deceased officer, assisted the Rev. H. P. Cutter in the service. [Taken from the Morpeth Herald 31 Aug. 1917.]

The following has been extracted from the Morpeth Herald following the inquest.

Hundreds of soldiers were bathing at a spot between the West Pier and Gloucester Lodge. There was a strong southerly wind and a heavy hash on the sea. The tide was at a low-ebb, making the spot very dangerous for bathers. At this spot there were deep water channels cut in to the sand by the currents and the water rushes with an irresistible force. The soldiers had not been in the water long when some of them got into difficulties and were washed out seawards, in spite of their struggles. A number of comrades rushed to their assistance until at the fatal spot 13 men were seen struggling and evidently drowning.  Soldiers formed a human chain by joining hands and wading as far they could into the fast ebbing tide. They succeeded in saving 5 of their comrades, three of whom were very exhausted, when they got ashore that they were immediately rushed off by car.

A statement by an old fisherman who knew every foot of the beach remarked. ”To bathe there was almost suicidal”.

The inquest into seven of the men was held on the Monday by the Coroner H. T. Rutherford. The recovered bodies were – Sgt. John Riley aged 25, Private Fred Shale 18; Thomas Forty; Edward G Beavan 19; Ed Noy 18; Harry Southern and W. W. Henderson. The other two missing were Private Blunn and Lieut. Kenneth Brown.

Sgt. James Dowling of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment identified five of the bodies. He was present bathing when the accident happened between 10 & 11 o’clock on the Friday morning.  Private Leonard James identified the body of Private Harry Southern and was a witness at the time of the accident. He stated that he had never bathed in the sea before and went out about 30 yards and it took him all of his time to get back. He also stated that he had never seen the sea before! Police Sgt. Hill gave his account of the recovery of the 5 bodies. Private Southern was taken out of the sea by a Boy Scout belonging the 8 1/2 Maple Street, Hirst and Private Noye was rescued by a Boy Scout called Johan Gowans of 97 Pont Street, Hirst. Private Fortey was rescued by H Malston of Kimberley Terrace, Cowpen Quay the other bodies were got by the soldiers.

Lieut. Colonel Frank Martin Chatterley of the Warwickshire’s was the Commanding Officer and expressed his deepest sympathy to the relatives of the deceased and wanted also to recognises the great gallantry shown by the Chaplain Captain G. J. F. Verse Hoyle who tried to save Lieut. Brown and also to Sgt. Riley who lost his life whilst trying to save his comrades.

The soldiers left camp at 09.30 on the weekly route march. Arriving at Blyth sands about 11.30. He give the men a rest of 20 minutes to allow them to cool down and afterwards extended them along the sands in the usual place where the battalion had bathed several times before. This is the exact place civilians and children bathe. Chatterley issued orders to the detachment. Strong swimmers had to be taken out first and the ranks were warned not to go beyond their depths. About 600 men then went in to the sea.Chatterley remained on his horse and watched as the men went in to the water. He then decided to have a bathe himself. He undressed and went into the water and was in the water for about 6-7 minutes. As he came out of the sea Major Burn galloped up to him, informing him that someone was in difficulties towards the pier.

He ordered Major Burn to gallop off and arrange for a boat which he did and the steam launch ‘Water Witch’ was there within 10-12 minutes. Chatterley went into the water where he saw the chaplain had swam out to Lieut. Brown who was 70-80 yards out and in extreme difficulties. The chaplain was supporting Lieut. Brown and Chatterley shouted to the chaplain to encourage him, but the chaplain had to relinquish the Lieut. and had the greatest of difficulty getting back. Indeed he would not have reached the shore if others hadn’t assisted him. The witness added there was a terrific current on the right flank.


Coroners Recommendation

Summing up the Coroner said the accident was one of the saddest cases of drowning they had had in Blyth for many years and certainly not in his experience, which they knew was an exceedingly long one.

So far as the verdict of the jury was concerned it would be a simple one. They were drowned whilst bathing and they would join him in commending the efforts made to save the poor men, especially the efforts of the chaplain and the others who had done their best to get the men out of the sea.

But there was another matter he would like to refer to. About two years ago he had a case at Seaton Sluice where 3-4 solider went out and were drowned and he had made some rather strong comments at the time in regard to the current at that part of the coast and suggest that many of these men, had never seem the sea before and knew nothing about sea bathing. Every precaution may have been taken, but they did not have the local knowledge and should have consulted with local men who knew the beaches and could give advice.

Lieut. Brown’s brother remarked that an old sailor on the beach told him when he saw the battalion go down on Friday, that some of the men would not get out of the sea alive. They knew the currents and the dangers. Had their knowledge been at the disposal of the officers the lives of the deceased men might have been saved. The jury found that the mem were accidently drowned and they recommended that a boat be provided in case of accidents whenever large numbers of men were bathing.


Burial Register


Blyth Town Council and Blyth Battery are looking for any of the relatives of the nine men who died of drowning while on service with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment on August 24, 1917. They are putting together a commemoration for these men on Thursday August 27, 2017. If any of the relatives would like to be involved please contact them on or ring 01670368816.



This Week in World War One, 13 July 1917








Ann Paterson, Berwick, shopkeeper, 101 Castlegate, Berwick, was charged with having, on Sunday, 8th inst., unlawfully engaged in trading. She pleaded guilty, and the Chief Constable explained that there had been complaints, the shop being watched. She was discovered selling six packets of Wild Woodbine cigarettes. P.C. Smith proved the case, and stated when challenged the accused expressed her regret, and admitted that she knew she was contravening the law.

The Chief Constable stated that in future he would summon customers as well as defendants.

The defendant said she was really sorry and that the boys came from the station.

In answer to Mr Dodd’s it was explained that tobacconists were equally guilty if they sold tobacco on Sundays, and that the case was taken under an Act dated 1677. There had been about thirty such cases during the present Chief Constable’s time, and it was not usual to administer a warning, as the law was supposed to be understood.

The Bench imposed a fine of 5s, which was paid.

Mr Dodds – What about Sunday papers, Mr Nicholson?

The Chief Constable – I daresay I could take them, too, but it has never been done. I buy one myself.

Mr Dodds – War time.

Mr Hogarth – That does not make it legal.

The Chief Constable – I am afraid I could have you up too. (Laughter.)

Mr Hogarth – I am certain you could not. (Laughter.)




Boy Falls into the River – What was almost another fatal drowning accident occurred at Spittal about noon on Wednesday. A little boy, Ronnie Gibb, aged 5, son of Mrs Gibb, Main Street, and of Private Gibb, Royal Engineers, who was formerly a North Eastern Railway guard, and is now at the front, was paddling on the beach with his twin brother, and had climbed into a boat from which he fell into the water, and was rapidly washed out towards the sea. The incident was seen by a Mr Dick Piercy, a fisherman who was standing on the Bat at the Berwick side, and he shouted across to a crew of Spittal fishermen to tell them what had happened. They rowed after the child as fast as they could, and reached him near the Pier when Mr John Ainslie, master of the boat, was able to pull him out of the water. Prompt measures were taken to restore the little boy to consciousness, and his rescuers, were soon rewarded by his giving a cry, which showed that he was still alive. The boat was met by Mr Peter Patterson, railway guard, who showed the fishermen how to do artificial respiration, and the child was soon able to breathe properly and even to speak. A young member of the crew, named Patterson, then carried him home. His mother’s relief in finding he was alive may be imagined when it is known that a few minutes before he was carried home his little brother, who had seen him washed away, had run in to tell her that he was drowned.



Elder House


10th July, 1917.


Sir,- The year 1916 constitutes a record in the history of the Institution for the number of  lives saved – 1,300, and never were the courage, endurance, and seamanship of the Life-Boat Crews more severely tested than in the terrific gales of October and November last.

But while the year of 1916 has been fruitful the number of lives saved, it has, alas; been marked by the loss of 16 gallant Life-Boatmen, the complete wreck of one Life-Boat, and severe damage to others.

I regret to add that the income of the Institution was £21,000 less than in 1915; and it must be remembered that the service is entirely dependent on voluntary contributions.

Berwick Lifeboat and crew 20th century (c) BRO 2001-8

The Life-Boat Service is national in the truest sense of the word, and is playing an active and noble part in the War. It is hardly realised by the Nation that many hundreds of lives have been saved from H.M. Ships and other vessels which have fallen a victim to the mine or the torpedo, or other causes directly arising out of the War; and that over 2,600 lives have been saved for Britain and her Allies since August, 1914.

But, in these times, there is also a personal aspect; for there is surely no British man or woman who has not some relative or friend who is obliged to cross the seas in carrying out his duty to King and Country; and any of these men may need the services of the Life-Boat.

These brief facts are the reason of my earnest appeal to you not to gorget [sic] the Life-Boat Cause, even amidst the many claims to your generosity which the war involves, and I feel sure that I can rely upon your sympathy and support for one of the noblest forms of national activity, which can now point to over 54,600 lives saved.

Yours faithfully

C. L. Fraser

Hon. Secretary, Berwick-on-Tweed Branch.

Royal National Life-Boat Institution.

In aid of the Life-Boat Cause an entertainment will be held in Berwick at end of August or beginning of September: Particulars later.

This Week in World War One, 29 June 1917








The accompanying photo is of Private T.H. Pattison, whose wife has just received information, that he has been admitted into the casualty clearing station in France suffering from wounds in the arm and back. Before enlisting he carried on the business of painter, having succeeded his father the late Johnson Pattison. He joined up on September, 1916, and was put into the 3rd K.O.S.B’s at Duddingston. After some time there he went to Dreghorn and attached to the A. and S. Highlanders. He was brought back to Duddingston and transferred to the Seaforths, from there to Blairgowrie, then to France, where he has been for 4 months. We trust that his wife may soon receive favourable news of him. His wife is the youngest sister of Mr Thomas Grey, Tweedmouth, and resides at 12 Parade, Berwick.




Berwick Volunteers – Good progress continues to be made in rifle and other drill by the various platoons, while the physical exercises are also being enthusiastically taken up by the younger members. At the close of one of the last drills Capt. C. L. Fraser, V. D., commanding officer, took occasion to advert to the irregularity in attendance of many of the younger members, expressing the earnest hope that due attention would be made to remedy this fault. He also trusted that every effort would be made to increase the membership of the Berwick Company. Good as the response had been for the Borough, it was still evident that there were a goodly number of men of military age who had not identified themselves with the Corps. He hoped every member would taken it as an instruction form him to personally interview eligible men who up to the present had not identified themselves with the Company, and insist on a reasonable and a satisfactory explanation for their failure to join up.

Scremerston Band’s Patriotic Work – On Sunday afternoon last, by permission of the Local Authority, Scremerston Brass Band discoursed a programme of scared music at Berwick Band Stand, on the Walls to a large and appreciative audience.

The Scremerston Colliery Band 1910. © Berwick Record Office, BRO 1753-2a.

A collection was taken up on behalf of Berwick Patriotic Fund, the sum of £6 3s 6d being realised. We trust that this will only be a forerunner of many other musical treats provided by Bandmaster Whitfield and his highly trained instrumentalists.

Early Potatoes – Several allotment holdiers in the town and district have been digging the first earlies from their potato plots during the past week, and for size and quality the young tubers are well up to standard. It will be another month, however, before potatoes, to any great extent, are on the market from local growers. The new allotments at Violet Terrace are looking exceptionally fine, and should all well produce an abundant return.

Grammar School Rambling Club – On Saturday, June 23rd, the Rambling Club cycled to Wooler. There the party of fourteen divided, seven visiting the “Happy Valley,” and the rest setting out to climb the Cheviot: this was prevented by mist, but a good height was reached and the climbers had a fine view over the surrounding country, and the mountain provided plenty of scope for nature study.

Street Accident – About 4.50 on Wednesday afternoon Mary Fryer, widow, residing in Narrow Lane, Berwick, was cycling down Church Street, and in trying to avoid a boy she swerved on to the pavement. She had the misfortune to knock down Mrs Colin Campbell, and continuing her course she went through a plate glass window of Mr Campbell, tailor, situated in the ladies’ department.

Church Street, 1906. BRO 0426-338 (C) Berwick Record Office.

When Mrs Fryer was picked up she was found to be slightly cut about the head and suffering from severe bruises to her left knee. She was attended to by Dr C. L .Fraser, V.D., at the police station, and he ordered her removal to the Infirmary. She was conveyed there in the ambulance by P.C. Watt.


This Week in World War One, 15 June 1917






Berwick Lad Seriously Injured by Motor Tractor. – On Wednesday afternoon James Swan (18), apprentice motor mechanic, residing at 21 Wallace Green, Berwick, employed by the Berwick Garage Company, Hide Hill, met with serious injuries at the farm of East Ord, while working a motor tractor plough. The lad, who is presently employed by the Food Production Department, had been doing something to the machinery while in motion, when a portion of his coat, which was not buttoned, was caught, and he was dragged in among the wheels.

Engraving of Berwick Infirmary HB1-68 late 19th Century

He sustained severe injuries before the machine could be stopped, his left arm being broken at the elbow, while his head, which struck one of the large wheels, was cut open. Dr C. G. Maclagan was driven out by Mr H. E. Blackney, manager of the Berwick Garage, and attended to the lad’s injuries. Five stitches had to be inserted in the wound on the head. The lad was afterwards conveyed to the Berwick Infirmary, where he is progressing as well as can be expected.

Grammar School Rambling Club.- On Saturday, June 2nd, a cycle run to St. Abbs took place; the party of nineteen went out by Burnmouth, Eyemouth and Coldingham, and after the ramble from the village were very kindly shown through the Lighthouse, a novel and interesting experience. After a visit to the “landing” and bathe, the return was by Ayton, the party reaching Berwick in the evening. On Saturday, June 9th, a visit was paid to Holy Island, the party again numbering nineteen, going through the Priory and Church, then visiting the caves and sands on the north shore returning from the snook.

(C) BRO 1865-17 Lindisfarne Priory

Fine weather and a merry party (including boys from Cornhill, Paxton, and Ancroft as well as from the Borough, and a master) made the excursion a most enjoyable one. The next outing will probably take place on June 23rd.

Military Wedding at Berwick.- Yesterday afternoon an interesting military wedding was solemnised in Berwick Parish Church, the contracting parties being Miss Hilda Shield, daughter of Mr and Mrs Shield, Golden Square, and Second- Lieut. Ralph Hedley of the Machine Gun Corps, youngest son of the Ralph Hedley, North Shields.The best man was the bridegroom’s brother, Captain John Herbert Hedley, of the Lincolnshire Regiment, who is presently home on leave from France, while the bridesmaids were Miss Edith Hornsby of Durham, and Miss Dora Shields, sister of the bride.

Berwick Parish Church (c) John Box

Following the ceremony the brides’ parents held a reception in the Long Room of the Corn exchange when a large number of guests were entertained. The presents received were numerous and valuable, and included several cheques.

No Trip to Spittal this Year.- The annual meeting of Sunday School teachers connected with the various churches was held in the Session house of St. John’s U.F. Church, Kelso, on Wednesday evening at the close of the intercessory service. The minute of last meeting having been read and approved, the Chairman stated that the business before the meeting was to consider whether a picnic should be provided for the children this summer. The food restrictions which had been in operation until lately would have left them no choice in the mater, but Sunday School picnics were now permissible under certain conditions. After discussion it was unanimously agreed that it would be wise, in view of all the circumstances to have no picnic this summer.

Sunday School Scholars Kindly Gift.- An interesting ceremony took place at the Berwick Public Bowling Green on Tuesday evening, when two invalid chairs were handed over for the use of wounded soldiers frequenting the green. The chairs were the gift of the Sunday school children and teachers of Castlegate Baptist Church, and bore the following inscriptions :- “For the use of wounded Soldiers, from Castlegate Baptist Church Sunday school, with gratitude and good wishes.”


The Committee wish to make it known that wounded soldiers may play on the green, free of charge, and other soldiers at the reduced rate of 1d. The well-appointed green is also open to all who care to come and watch the play.

War Time Cookery.- It will be observed from our advertising columns that a public meeting is to be held in the Queen’s Rooms, Berwick, on Thursday evening, 21st June, for the purpose of providing a course of lessons and demonstrations in war time cookery for women without payment of any fee. An address is to be given by Miss Howman, superintendent of domestic subjects under the Northumberland County Education Committee, and the Mayoress will preside to which all are cordially invited. He hour of meeting is 7pm.

This Week in World War One, 18 May 1917






Berwick Bowling Club. – The green was opened for play on Thursday afternoon 10th May with the customary match between the teams representing President and Vice-President. The weather unfortunately broke down putting a stop to the continuation of the game. Mrs Black and Mrs Logan provided afternoon tea in the Club House and their hospitality was much enjoyed. There are to be no matches engaged in this season. The competition for the championship will proceed and other competitions will be duly notified on the club board during the season. Military members will be welcomed and can be introduced by members free of charge.

Agreeable Work for the Children.– The children of the country lanes and fields are asked by the organisation directed by Mrs Tennant to take their part in National Service, and during this summer to gather the tufts of sheep’s wool from the hedges and thorns of the countryside. This pure wool is much needed for warm blankets and clothing for our sailors and soldiers. As an instance of what can be done, the Hon. Mrs Carpenter and three little children the other day collected six ounces of white wool in a little more than an hour in a Hertfordshire lane down which a flock of sheep had been driven. Another child made a collection of four ounces of black wool only. It is hoped that schoolmistresses and others in authority in the villages will prompt the children to collect. The wool has a high and increasing market value and will be sold to the weavers on behalf of the Red Cross.

THE GIRL GUIDES ASSOCIATION IN BRITAIN, 1914-1918 (Q 27919) Girl Guides tend to an allotment in the United Kingdom during the First World War. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:


N.E.R. and Women Guards. – It has been decided not to proceed further with the experiment of utilising women as passenger guards on the N.E.R. If, however, owing to pressure from the Army Council to release additional men, it is again desired to renew the experiment, the mater, it is stated, will be brought before the men’s Special War Arrangements Committee.

Pictured above are a Station Mistress and two porters at Irlams O’th Height Station, Manchester in 1917. Source: This photograph Q 109840 is from the collections of the Imperial War Museums. © Wikimedia Commons – HMSO has declared that the expiry of Crown Copyrights applies worldwide.




Private Robert J. Bolton, youngest son of Mr R. Bolton, Watchmaker and fruiterer, High Street, Belford, is at present home on leave which he finds little pleasure in owing to it having been granted him to attend the funeral of his dear mother. Private Bolton enlisted in October, 1914, trained till the following January at East Boldon and then was sent to France. Shortly after arrival he found himself facing the Germans which at that time far exceeded the Allies in number.

View from crater on Hill 60 towards Zillebeke, 6 July 1917


The brave old boy was at the taking of Hill 60 and in several other desperate fights all of which he came safely through, but being attacked by rheumatism was sent to hospital and though greatly recovered he has been found fit to go into the line again. In civil life Private Bolton was a gardener, but some little ago gave up that form of employment and went to the collieries where the rate of wages were much higher than in his own trade. He has a wife and several children all whom are eagerly awaiting the cessation of hostilities and the safe return of daddy. That their wish may soon be fulfilled is what we most earnestly desire.




On Tuesday night last there was a free and easy smoking concert in the Navy and Army Recreation Rooms, Hide Hill, when the Concert Hall was packed with an appreciative audience of Soldiers.

Regimental Sergeant Major Dow was in the chair and at a suitable interval presented the prizes won in the competition held during the winter months, the prizes were medals, these had been specially designed and made for the occasion. The inscription on them ran “Recreation Rooms Berwick-on-Tweed, “this surrounding the Berwick coat of arms made a pretty medal, which was highly spoken of by the lucky winners.

R.S.M. Dow, who made the presentation said, The pleasant duty of presenting these medals on the successful competitors has fallen to my lot. The Recreation Room Committee, during our stay in Berwick, have sprung many pleasant surprises on us in the way of competitions, concerts, etc., and the gift of these beautiful medals is only one more to the number. I feel sure they will be very much appreciated by the winners, not only in account of their having been successful in the competitions, but also in future years as a souvenir of their stay in Berwick-on-Tweed, either to hang from their watch chains, or, as has been suggested, to give to their best girls to wear as a brooch, (laughter and applause). My only caution is, – Be sure  that it is “the” best girl (laughter) as I feel sure  that you would be very sorry if you gave it to  the wrong one, and the medal passed out of  your possession altogether. (Laughter and applause). I think it only right that you should know that, for the medals, you are chiefly indebted to a well-known Berwick gentleman viz. Mr Redpath, who, when the subject was discussed, remarked to Mr Erskine and Mr Boal “You find the Medals and I will find the money”. (Applause).


The 1848-9 Cholera Visitation

Up until the 19th Century, memorials to the dead were usually the preserve of the wealthy. The introduction of burial clubs, offered by trade unions, religious societies and friendly societies, enabled many working class people to have a proper burial. At this time, those who died through some tragedy were often commemorated by the friends and relatives to raise funds for the victim’s dependents. The etching of cheap glassware to memorialise mining disasters, and the profusion of printed material, in the form of memorial cards and silk bookmarks, was a way to remember the victim and to give charity to the family.

Very few memorials seem to have been made to remember people who died through disease throughout this period. Asiatic cholera, which caused epidemics in Britain in 1831-1833, 1848-1849, 1853-1854 and in 1866, fits this trend. However one memorial has been found, and research into the event has provided us with insight into one family’s story.

Original documentation from the 1848-1849 cholera epidemic is sketchy, so newspaper reports are often the only way to find detail on the spread of the disease.

The first mention of Cholera in Northumberland comes in August 1849 with reports of cases in North Shields. By the 8th of September the Newcastle Guardian reports “Cholera in the Mining Districts – This fearful malady has at length found its way into the mining districts of New Hartley and Delaval. It appears that there have been upwards of one hundred and fifty cases of diarrhoea and cholera together in the immediate neighbourhood. Forty four have proved fatal up to the present time”.  By the 15th September the Newcastle Guardian mentions that “At Wrekenton, Howdon, Walker, Seaton Delaval, North Shields and Barnard Castle it has been remarkably severe…Nor should the indispensable duties of mutual help and succour at this trying season be forgotten. Amid scenes of suffering and in the houses of the dying, Charity should walk fourth in all her genial influences; and whilst, with devout hearts and in the spirit of our holy religion, we look to Providence for the removal of the pestilence which in mercy or judgement He has visited our shores, let the wealthy and influential do good and communicate, as they have opportunity to their poorer neighbours and fellow-countrymen on whose families this heavy calamity may have fallen”.

An update from the Newcastle Courant on the 12th October reported “The Cholera at Seaton Delaval and Seghill, though considerably abated, has, since our last notice, been fatal to several families. In the night between the 2nd and 3rd [October] seventeen fell victims to it, and in one row of houses eleven corpses lay within a few yards of each other”.


1st edition [1860] Ordnance Survey Sheet 81


William Bell a miner from Seaton Delaval was one of those who succumbed, but was remembered in a printed silk epitaph, which now resides in Northumberland Archives. The silk states that he was”superinduced by his exertions to assist his fellow creatures during the attacks by this dreadful malady”. It is unclear who produced this silk or how many copies were made, but the two hands clasped together may indicate the item has a connection to a Trade Union.

In the publication, “Fynes’ History of the Northumberland and Durham Miners” published in 1873, states “The cholera having broke out at this time with great violence in the colliery districts, the attention of both employers and employed was turned towards the improvement of the sanitary condition of the villages, and union matters were laid aside for a time as great numbers of the workmen of the collieries were dying daily, struck down by the dire disease. Among those who fell victim was Mr William Bell, the secretary of the General Union whose death took place at Seaton Delaval.”

Seaton Delaval was at that time part of the Parish of Earsdon, William’s entry in the burial register has him aged 39 years old, and is buried the same day as his death, consistent with the directions for handling victims of contagious diseases, buried as soon as possible. A copy of his death certificate shows his death at Whitridge [Wheatridge] Row, Seaton Delaval, and the informant is Mable Bell, who was present at his death.


Memorial Silk to William Bell


In the 1851 census for Seaton Delaval, Mable Bell, and her family are living at 4 Whitridge [Wheatridge] Row. Mable is a widow, and the assumption is she was William’s wife. Mable is aged 37 and is claiming Parish Relief.  William the eldest son is aged 18 and is a Coal Miner, her son Christopher is 11 and is employed in the mines, daughter Mable is 8, and her youngest son Robert, is aged 3. Whitridge Row was one of the rows of tied houses for workers of the Seaton Delaval Coal Company. From this we can assume that William and Christopher are working for the Coal Company, at the time of the Census.

Reports of the disease in Seghill, Cowpen, Cramlington and other mining area throughout Northumberland seem to indicate that the disease in these areas were particularly virulent. An explanation was given by Dr John Snow, in his in his paper “On the Mode of Communication of Cholera” in 1855.


Wheatridge Row Seaton Delaval


“The mining population of Great Britain have suffered more from cholera than persons in any other occupation; a circumstance which I believe can only be explained by the mode of communication of the malady. Pitmen are differently situated from every other class of workmen in many important particulars. There are no privies in the coal pits, or as I believe in other mines, the workmen stay so long in the mines that they are obliged to take a supply of food with them, which they eat invariably with unwashed hands and without knife and fork”. “It is very evident that when a pitman is attacked with cholera whilst at work, the disease has facilities for spreading among his fellow-labourers such as occurs in no other occupation. That the men are occasionally attacked whilst at work I know, from having seen them brought up from some of the coal-pits in Northumberland in the winter of 1831-1832 after having had, profuse discharges from the stomach and bowels, and when fast approaching to a state of collapse”.


This Week in World War One, 4 May 1917








Port Hospital,
May 1st, 1917


Sir. – May I appeal through the medium of your paper for men and women to form a V.A.D., in this most northern part of Northumberland. Last Friday evening the members of St. Andrew’s Ambulance Corps., received a visit from the Chief Commissioner for Northumberland (Mr P. B. Palmer). In a very strong appeal Mr Palmer asked for the immediate formation of both a men and a women’s detachment. The need is great. The nearest men’s detachment is at Alnwick. The nearest women’s at Belford. Mr Palmer wants at least 200 men for ambulance work, (and as many women as he can get) between Wansbeck and Tweed. We want all the men and women in Berwick, Tweedmouth and Spittal and Scremerston who have First Aid or nursing certificates, to volunteer. Others who have not certificates may join on probation.

Berwick is a long way behind in ambulance work, let us have this stigma removed, and get to the front as quickly as possible.

Mr Hetherington, High Street, or Mr J. Richardson, 25 Main Street, Spittal, will receive names of men willing to join. Women may send their names to Miss Noble, 47a Main Road, Spittal or the undersigned.


Commandant, St. Andrews Ambulance Corps.

Berwick-on-Tweed Section.




Hopeville, Castle Terrace,
May 1st, 1917.


Sir,- At the request of the General Committee of the Guild of Aid, I again venture to ask your valuable help, in permitting us to make an appeal through the medium of your paper, to all friends, who are willing and able to help us, in sending out much needed comforts to the men in France, who are so strenuously fighting our battles. We have an urgent request, to send as soon as possible, shirts, socks, towels, (small) and handkerchiefs (dark coloured). Owing to the large demands made upon us lately, we have a very small stock in hand, and would be grateful for any help, however small, towards meeting this request. Our hearts are all too full of the desire to send any crumb of comfort, that we possibly can, to our heroes overseas, to need any appeal, it is quite enough, we know, to state our needs for them, to have them met, we would be glad to have all articles by Tuesday, May 15th, sent either to any member of committee, or to the Town Hall, on Tuesdays, between 2.30 and 3.30. Thanking you for your courtesy.

Yours faithfully


(President of the Guild)




 The time honoured custom of riding the Berwick Bounds was duly observed on Tuesday, 1st May, in the usual manner. Fine weather prevailed and the proceedings were much enjoyed. The company assembled at noon at the Parade and proceeded by the customary route.

In the mayor’s carriage there were present – His Worship the Mayor, Mr M. Ross, (the Sheriff) Councillor Thomas Wilson, and the acting Town Clerk ( MR James Gibson).

In a brake there were the following – Alderman G. A. Turnbull, and Councillors Wm. Anderson, T. Bolus, Alex. Darling, Wm. J. Dixon, J. Elder, F. Richardson, and the Chief Constable.

BRO 1944/1/149/1 Riding of the Bounds, Parade, Berwick-upon-Tweed, 1952


The horseman riders were represented by both youth and age; youth was represented by Master Moffat, Wes Edge, a born horseman, 14 years, and this will be the fifth annual occasion on which he has ridden the Berwick Bounds; and by one who at mature years rode the Bounds 47 years ago, Mr J. Cameron, V.S,. There was also one cyclist soldier from the Borderers, a boy.

At the inn at Canty’s there was a liberal supply of refreshments dispensed, consisting of tea, coffee, biscuits, cheese, and ale.

At the conclusion of the drive home the company drove to the Town Hall before dispersing, when the Mayor in a few words formally thanked the company for their attendance at the function.



George Murray, N.F., only son of Mr Andrew Murray, formerly groom to Dr Maclagan, Berwick, and now of Akeld, Wooler, has been killed by a snipper. He served his apprenticeship with Mr Mosgrove as a shoemaker and was afterwards employed by the North British Railway Company.

Berwick Advertiser 21 Aug 1914 Mosgroves Advert


He was a territorial before the outbreak of war, was 23 years of age, and was in the machine gun section. Very high praise has been received of Private Murray’s soldierly bearing and courage in letters sent both by officers and men.




This is an extract from a letter from Sergt., T. H. Grey, Machine Gun Corps., son of Mr Thos. Grey, Tweedmouth, which will be interesting:- “I had to tell you that Tom Davidson was all right, in case his people were inquiring for him, however, five minutes after, he got wounded, so I suppose by this time he is well on his way to Blightly. It was just a few minutes prior to an attack, and we were having a talk about old times before going over the top. I didn’t have the luck to see him again. We have some decent weather this last week, but the week before as you would see by the papers took some enduring. Many a time when we get wet through, we remark that had it been at home in civil life, we would have been following it up with a week in bed, whereas out here we can lie in a shell hole night and day and endure all sorts of  storms, not to mention bombardments. I fancy it must be the excitement that keeps us fit, it must be something out of the ordinary at any rate. We have celebrated our second anniversary in grand style I don’t mean by a great feast or supper, but by taking part in one of the biggest of battles and claimed to have been one of the fiercest, nevertheless it has gained for us a few days rest.

By the way, we had our Red and White roses on St. George’s Day, you see although I am now in the M.G.C., I like to consider myself still in the N.F. Those who were less fortunate than us and got killed that day were buried with their roses still pinned to their uniform. I’m sorry to say one of the unlucky ones was a very intimate friend of mine, being Sergeant in the same section as myself, it was his second anniversary in France too, and he had never until that fateful day, been either wounded or in hospital from any cause; such is the Fate that awaits the soldier on the battlefield.




Mr T. Robertson, gardener, Birch Hill, Norham, has received a letter from his son, Trooper J. Robertson, of the Royal 10th Hussars, who has been in the thick of the recent fighting in which he relates some stirring events.

The 10th Royal Hussars memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum. © Author A Carty. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

It appears that on one occasion some of the cavalry got held up in a village, and were ordered to dismount for action. In the fight Trooper Roberson was blown up into the air, landed in a garden, and wonderful to relate escaped without a scratch. It was a pretty rough time while it lasted and as he says, “We came through it, however, with the loss of a great number of horses most of which were blown up into the air; the number of men killed, I am glad to say was not many.” Trooper Robertson has been in France since August of last year. Previous to joining the colours he was a rabbit catcher, and is well known in the district. He lost a brother, who was in the K.O.S.B. at the battle of the Somme.


This Week in World War One, 20 April 1917







Information has been received by his wife in Berwick that Private F. Crow, K.O.S.B.’s has been wounded in the left-arm and right thigh, and has been sent to hospital. The chaplain (the Rev. R. W Hopkins) in a letter remarks that “there is no reason why he should not get on well. He will very soon be in England and there is no cause for anxiety.” Private Crow is a painter to trade and for a number of years was employed in the painting department of Messrs Wm. Elder and Sons Implement Works.

An early twentieth century image of William Elder’s engineering works in Berwick. Private F. Crow worked in the painting department with Elder’s for a number of years. © Berwick Record Office, BRO 1944-1-2661-17.


Latterly he was employed with Mr Gilchrist, painter, etc, in West Street. Private Crow joined under the Derby Scheme in September last. He was trained at Duddingston, and went to France on 15th January.




Death of an Old Berwick Ship Captain. – Death has this week removed one of the old-time Berwick ship captains in the person of Mr Thomas Ormston, at the ripe old age of 80 years. In days when Berwick port was of much importance, Captain Ormston had command successively of the late Mr Andrew Thompson’s schooners – the “Tweed” and the “Maggie,” for a long time sailing to continental and other ports. He was a freeman of Berwick, being “made free” in the year 1858. He has lived in retirement for a number of years.

Good Work to the Soldiers Recognised. – For seven years Mrs Highgate has carried on almost useful and philanthropic work at her residence on the Quay Walls on behalf of the social and moral advancement of the soldiers in Berwick. Owing to advancing years she has been compelled to relinquish her good efforts, and is on the eve of leaving the town for Dunoon. The Mayor and Mayoress, supported by a few friends who are fully alive to the great and good work Mrs Highgate has accomplished, fittingly resolved that she should receive some small token of appreciation to mark her stay and labours in the Border town, and a presentation ceremony was somewhat hurriedly arranged to take place in the Council Chamber on Tuesday evening. The proceedings were of a private character, and of brief duration. His Worship the Mayor presided, there were also present the Mayoress, Mr Thos. Wilson, who acted as treasurer; Ald. A. Logan, Mr and Mrs J. Strachan, Mrs T. Purves, Miss C. E. Purvis, Miss Richardson, Miss Paxton, Mrs McCreath (senior), and a friend, Mr and Mrs Alex. Steven. In a neat and appropriate speech the Mayor made the presentation, consisting of a marble clock, on which a suitable inscription is to be placed. Mrs Highgate made a feeling and suitable response, alluding to the pleasure and great interest her work among the soldiers had given her. Several others spoke of the great good that had resulted from Mrs Highgate’s work, bearing testimony to the unselfish and disinterested manner in which she had always carried these out.

The Poultry Demonstration Train on the N.E. Railway. – The poultry demonstration train on tour on the North Eastern railway in Durham this month is meeting with great success, and the demonstrations that will follow in Northumberland are being looked forward to with considerable interest. The train consists of four coaches, and is replete with the latest poultry-culture appliances, comprising, among other things, incubators of various types, brooders, trap-nests, egg-boxes, egg-testing lamps, cramming machine, and models of poultry-houses. The different kinds of foods suitable for poultry, as well as a pen of pullets illustrating the way in which fowls are kept on the intensive system, are other features of the exhibition. The train is accompanied by lecturers and demonstrators. Wooler is to be visited on 1st May, Chathill 4th May, and Tweedmouth 5th May.






A thrilling story of the Vimy Ridge battle is told by a former resident of Darlington, now serving with the machine Guns Corps and attached to one of the Canadian Battalions. In an interview he said;-

A British dug fighting tunnel in Vimy sector, WW1. GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2. Wikimedia Commons.

“It was hell for the Germans, heaven for us. Hell for them because our big guns had been at it for hours powdering the strongest earth works to dust and reducing the men to jelly. The immediate effect was to put a severe strain on nerves all round. A thrill of joy and relief ran through our ranks when the gun fire died down, and the infantry began to liven up. It was heaven for us because we felt that at last we were to have a chance of avenging hundreds of loved comrades who had been killed in more or less fair fights in this region or poisoned by foul gas.

“Many of the men in my battalion were Northerners. They had relations and friends in the Northern regiment such as the Northumberland Fusiliers, which had fought so well over this very ground just a year ago. To my dying day I will never forget how our lads charged. They were absolutely irresistible. They paid not the slightest attention to the gust of shell-fire and machine gun bullets, in the teeth of which they had to advance. They laughed at death and wounds, and swept onward and upward in one great avenging avalanche.

“Ten yards from the German parapet the foe were found awake to their danger. They came streaming out of their lairs firing into the grey morning with all kinds of weapons. Our Canadians gave a cheer, and dashed at the foe exultingly. The first enemy line went down like a puppet before a half-ton ball. We dashed over the dead and wounded, and bounded into the trench.

“Here we found the Huns making desperate efforts to pull themselves together. We flung ourselves on them before they could muster force enough to stop us, and while they were doing the “Mercy, Kamerad” dance other parties of ours were streaming over the crest and down the slope to meet the oncoming reserves. There was no holding our lads back. They swept eagerly forward, and very soon had the whole of the ground in their hands.