Northumberland’s Hidden Treasures


The story of how the Dickson, Archer and Thorp collection came to be acquired by Northumberland Archives is almost as rich and compelling as its 200 year contents. Often described as a ‘time capsule’ due to the detail it can offer us about Northumberland’s social, political and economic story, this value had been left largely unexplored until its recent acquisition by the Northumberland Archives.


Personal papers relating to the Thorp family held within the collection


The Dickson, Archer and Thorp collection is the culmination of work from a 200 year old Alnwick legal practice. Items within the collection can be dated beyond the practice’s establishment in the 18th century right through to the death of its last partner, Mr Reginald Thorp, in 2003. It is the only legal collection in the care of Northumberland Archives to have this level of historical volume and scope.


Notable names peppered the clientele of Dickson, Archer and Thorp; including Grace Darling and her family, The Duke of Northumberland, the Armstrong family and the Liddell (Ravensworth) family. The wills and testimonies of these individuals can be found within the collection, nestled alongside those of ‘ordinary’ locals. This mixed bag enables us to paint a captivating picture of Northumberland using the collection’s marriage, death and criminal records, as well its contemporary stamp duties and manorial papers. The collection also follows the furtherance of industry in Northumberland, by containing records relaying to notable companies such as the Amble Timber and Saw Mill Company and the Hardy’s Fishing Company of Alnwick and Warkworth Harbour.


Liddell family papers found within the collection


A Hidden Treasure


However, although the collection possesses massive local and national significance, its secrets had lain mostly untouched for the vast majority of the 20th century. With the collection kept privately within Dickson, Archer and Thorp’s three-story office in Narrowgate, Alnwick.


The office was described by those who entered as ‘Dickensian,’ on account of the floor to ceiling papers and legal materials. These papers, decades old, were neatly labelled and bundled together creating a treasure trove for the enthusiastic researcher.


A first-floor bookcase in the Dickson, Archer and Thorp office


The second-floor landing in the Dickson, Archer and Thorp office


Northumberland Archives staff were first able to explore this exciting world during the 1970s when Mr Thorp approached them to assess the collection. This initial work was carried out over a ten year period, stretching through the 70’s and 80’s. But the collection’s sheer scope and scale made creating a complete inventory an almost impossible task. Archives staff were hindered further due to a lack of artificial light within the building, meaning they could only work during the summer months. Due to these obstacles less than 10% of the whole collection was actually catalogued during this period, but its historical importance had already become glowingly apparent to archivists.


Public Auction and Benefactors


Upon the aforementioned Mr Thorp’s death the collection became the property of his heirs, whom decided to pass it on through auction. In 2005 a public auction threatened the integrity of the collection by potentially dividing it piecemeal. Some papers fell into private hands whilst others, such as some of the practice’s own business records, were secured for Northumberland Archives through the generosity of a private benefactors.


Auction pamphlet, circa 1878, found within the collection


The bulk of the collection remained in situ at the Narrowgate office, before being purchased by a postal historian who subsequently offered a significant part of the collection to Northumberland Archives. The collection was, at this time, independently assessed as being the most significant collection relating to the history of Northumberland remaining in private hands.’


From Barn to Archive


From 2005 onwards the then owner kept the collection in a barn on his property, whilst passing between 10 – 15% onto interested parties across the world. Some of these items were eventually deposited with Northumberland Archives by public spirited purchasers. The items is his care that were eventually offered to Northumberland Archives comprised  approximately 240 large banker boxes, 20 smaller boxes and a selection of plans.


This period in the collection’s journey indicated two things; firstly there was a growing, global interest in the collection and secondly there was a serious need to preserve its authentic integrity as a whole or risk its dissemination across the world.


A bundle of papers from the collection


In 2015 Northumberland Archives was approached and asked if we would be interested in purchasing the remaining collection for the sum of £150,000. In light of the collection’s historic and cultural significance the sum was declared reasonable and the decision to proceed with the purchase was made. The eventual acquisition was made possible through internal fundraising as well as grants and charitable funding from a range of grant giving bodies including The Heritage Lottery Fund, Lord Crewe Charity, Friends of National Libraries and the V&A Purchase Fund.


The acquisition was formalised in 2017, with a week set aside for archival staff to box and roughly list this immense collection. Finally the collection’s journey had brought it to be stored in perpetuity by Northumberland Archives, allowing it to be valued by all members of the public.


A handbill referring to the Craster Harbour dispute found within the collection


The Future


The future will see the beginnings of in-depth research into the collection; facilitated by a process of comprehensive cataloging. This work will be largely conducted by volunteers, with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund allowing the Northumberland Archives to engage a Volunteer Co-ordinator. You can follow this project, and the secrets it uncovers, through this blog or the Archives’ other social media platforms.

This Week in World War One, 11 January 1918





Tragic Death of Lieut. Fedden





Berwick was shocked to hear on Monday after news of the death of Lieut. Fedden, who only some six weeks ago was married to Miss Shena Lennox Fraser, eldest daughter of Dr. Chas. L. Fraser, Elder House, Berwick. He met his end by exhaustion, through having been compelled to come down in the Channel on account of engine trouble, while flying near Bythe.

Lieut. Fedden during his short stays in, the town had won the respect and esteem of all who knew him, and admired him for the capable officer he was. An experienced and reliable member of the Air Service his will indeed be a loss to the Country, and we are sure that we voice the feeling of all in Berwick when we extend to the young widow, and both families our deepest and heartfelt sympathy in the great affliction which has come upon them.

Lieut. Fedden was the son of Mr. T. Player Fedden, of Glenthorpe, Barnet, served with the Punjabis in Mesopotamia and France, and had been wounded in the arm. Since then he has held important appointments at certain Aerodromes where his knowledge of aircraft has proved of great benefit to the service. In November, when his marriage took place, he was under orders to proceed to important work in Italy. He has died before he got his marching orders.

Lieut. Fedden was one of the officers who gave evidence before the Commission which enquired into the Mesopotamia campaign.

Just a fortnight ago he was with us in the town on short leave, today he is but a memory, yet a memory which is pregnant with all that we feel for a soldier and a gentleman who has fought and who has yielded up his life in the service of his country.




Of course there are many grumblers, but on the whole, people are managing fairly well with their half-pound of sugar a week. We hope the sugar will be more constant than the

An example of a WW1 sugar rationing card.

paper ration. Imports of paper were first reduced by a third, then the two-thirds that was left over reduced by half, and now the one third of what was used in 1914 is to be reduced by another third, leaving only 29ths or under a quarter of the 1914 supply.





“Where I am now we get very little news and very seldom get the chance to see a paper. I have only had one mail during the last three weeks, and the latest letter was dated November 26th, so it is rather a change from France, where everything went so smoothly. We have been in the line now for about three weeks, but there are hopes of my Brigade being out for Christmas. I am afraid the boys will not get any plum puddings this year, though we can get plenty of turkeys and geese; you can buy a very good one for from 7 to 10 lire (3s 6d to 5s). There are no E.F.C.’s yet and cigarettes and tobacco are not to be had unless you can go a long way back. Some of the men have actually been reduced to smoking tea leaves, etc. I am running a small canteen, but can only get about 200 lire worth of cigarettes a week, and then have to go nearly 40 kilometres for them.

The country is very pretty, and up at the front line it is a most extraordinary contrast to what we were used to before. The two lines are separated by a very broad river bed (1400 to 2000 yards across) so there is no sniping. There is very little water in the river just now, as the snow has just begun. Very high mountains rise up from the river bed, and it is magnificently pretty.

When we first took over the line it was very quiet, and to give you some idea of what it was like, an order came out in D.R.O. that “No clean washing had in future to be hung out to dry on the wire entanglements in front of the front line trenches. “Men used to go down to the river and wash their clothes in the middle of No Man’s Land. It is very different now, and there is quite a lot of shelling, though officers in the front line can still sleep in very comfortable beds in the little houses along the banks of the rivers.

We can make ourselves very comfortable as the people fled and left all their worldly goods behind. We have very dry weather, but it is fearfully cold and frosty at nights, and generally bright during the day. We have a lot of boys in our Brigade now from the North of England, and some from round about Haggertson and that way. Of course we area north country division.

I was very lucky, as I was one of the entertaining officers at our departure station in France, and came in with two N.F.’s by ordinary passenger train all the way to the frontier, and managed a day and night in Paris, and half a day in Genoa. I am afraid we shall get no leave from here for along time, which is rather rotten. If we have a heavy snowfall it may hurry it on a little.”




We have decided to open a “Berwick Advertiser” fund to provide a new boat for Bart Lough of Spittal who, as we reported last week, has lost his coble, the “Mary Harrison”.

In the ordinary way one should expect a fisherman to insure his boat and tackle when their loss mean so much to him. We are told that this is practically impossible. Lloyd’s is the only available agency, and they are not interested in such small craft. We feel, therefore, we have a strong case to put before the public. Mr Lough is not to blame for not insuring his boat; it was lost through no fault of his own, but rather by his own perseverance in providing food for the nation, when food is short. All along the coast he is known as a fearless and experienced fisherman, who has frequently risked his own life and property to assist others.


This Week in World War One, 28 December 1917







Sergeant Frank Swinney, N.F., is home for a 14 days’ leave from the Front. He is looking well in spite of the hardships he has endured. He went out with his regiment in April, 1915, as private, has been wounded twice, and has earned his promotion in the field.

We notice cadets Tom Burn and R. C. Clements also home; the former well known as one of our foremost footballers, and the other our late Boy Scouts’ Leader and Schoolmaster in Spittal Council School.

Lance-Corporal Borthwick is also here from the front. In his avocation as a postman he is well-known. He is married to a daughter of Mr R. Gladstone of West Street, Spittal.

Private J. Boston, son of Mr R. Boston of Forge Cottages is home for Christmas, also Seaman Jas. Johnston, one of the crew of the (will we call it the Spittal ship) the Macedonia.





We are pleased to see an old friend in the person of Private Thomas Ryan, West Street, Belford, enjoying his leave at present. Tom has been 13 months in France and has had some rough experiences, being wounded in the right arm and right leg on one occasion. His photo and brief sketch of movements appeared in these columns in November last. He has our very best wishes for the future.

Corporal E. Fenwick, M.M., eldest son of Mr and Mrs Fenwick, Middleton, Belford, is a present enjoying his 14 days’ leave from France. Our young friend is looking exceedingly well to have spent 14 months in the firing line. A brief sketch of his career and photo appeared in these columns in June last. We wish him a continuance of his past good luck.

It is quite a pleasure to see Private Edmund Henry, 4th son of Mr and Mrs Henry, Plantation Farm, Belford, enjoying a few days leave prior to going overseas with his regiment, East Yorks. Edmund enlisted shortly after attaining his 18th birthday, and has been in training since. Our young friend is looking well and appears to have increased in height and width since joining up. He has our best wishes for his future welfare.




An entertainment was given in the Playhouse on Monday afternoon to 1000 school children, whose fathers or brothers are serving, or have served, in the Army or navy during the present war.

© Berwick Record Office, BRO-1250-123.

The idea originated with County Alderman Thomas Darling, who collected the necessary funds from his friends. A series of pictures was shown, and a conjurer gave a display. Needless to say, the young folks were delighted. After the singing of the National Anthem, Mr Willits moved a vote of thanks to Mr Darling and the other donors, and expressed the pleasure that the treat would give, not only to the children, but to the brave men who are fighting for us.

Towards midnight on Christmas Eve, the crew of Berwick Lifeboat were summoned for the purpose of placing on board their boats in the bay, four members of the crew who had come ashore in small boats and were unable to reach their crafts owing to the heavy sea which had suddenly arisen.

Image 8 – Lifeboat – RNLB Matthew Simpson – Left to Right – Not known, Not known, Not known, John Wood, Knot known, Jack Lough, George Lough, Bartholomew Lough, Thomas Martin (possible), Not known, Not Known, Alex Patterson Lough.


The lifeboat went to the mouth of the river, and found that the craft had disappeared, but they were just in time to rescue two members of the crew who had been left in charge of their own boat, which had broken adrift, and would in a minute or two more have been swamped by the tremendous sea. Unfortunately, the lifeboat was a good deal damaged by the sinking boat being hurled against its side with great force. The men left by rail to rejoin their boat in the Firth of Forth.

Last week we reported a police case where boys in the K.O.S.B. Band raided Mr Crisp’s tobacconist shop. It came out that one of the boys, Laubauch, a lad of under sixteen, had already had no less than ten charges of theft against him. We believe that the theft of the motor car was nothing more than the boy going off in the car for a joy ride, and stepping out into the owner’s arms when he returned. He was sentenced to six months imprisonment in all. It is worth considering if the boy has been benefited by his previous punishment, because, if not, there should be some better way found of turning him into an honest citizen. We don’t profess to be able to say what that method should be but the present method of punishing the boy at any rate does not seem very successful.




At the Barracks the Corporals and men of the K.O.S.B. were entertained to a Christmas dinner and in the absence of Lieut. Colonel Maclaren, Major Robertson Glasgow, delivered a short address, being accompanied by Major F. Villiers, Adjutant, and Lieut. Hart. Mr Robertson, Glasgow expressed the hope that the great conflict would be ended before they again met for Christmas. He was pleased to meet so many non coms and men some of whom had gained from one to five badges, and had lent a hand in holding back the initial effort of the German avalanche. At the close, hearty cheers were given for all the officers and a most pleasant time was spent.




The Royal Scots were entertained to dinner in the Dining Hut on the Parade, according to regimental custom. The men were waited upon by the warrant officers and sergeants of the Battalion. The fare reflected great credit upon the Quarter-Master Staff, the Sergeant Cook and his assistants. The Royal Scots orchestra was present, and discoursed popular airs while dinner was in progress. Col. Peterkin with his officers paid a visit to the Dining Hut, and in a few brief remarks spoke of the exemplary record the Battalion had maintained since mobilisation.

The huts on the Parade at Berwick. In one of these (The Dining Hut), the Royal Scots were entertained. © Berwick Record Office, BRO 1944-1-149-1.


Each new year had shown a clean sheet, and he trusted this would be maintained on the present occasion. He was proud to tell them that in connection with the War Loan they had beaten the Brigade hollow in regard to the amount subscribed. The figures showed the 2-10th Royal Scots with £155 7s 6d to their credit, or over £70 more than the next highest in the Battalion. (Applause).They had all done well, but he had no doubt that the well could have been made better. He was sure that money was sometimes spent carelessly by the men that could have been put to a better purpose in the War Loan. (Applause). He concluded by wishing them all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. (Applause).The men gave cheers for Col. Peterkin and the other officers, singing “For he’s a jolly good fellow.” The officers paid a similar visit to the Sergeant’s Mess.

The Snowball Murder

A couple years ago I took the family to Blanchland to watch the Tour of the Reservoir, but in my usual fashion, got the time wrong so we had time to kill. We visited the churchyard to have a look around and noticed this headstone with the following wording:-

Erected in memory of Robert Snowball of Belmont aged 26 who was cruelly murdered at that place on 1st January 1880.




Jane Barron aged 27, a servant was indicted for the wilful murder of Robert Snowball at Edmondbyers. Mr Edge & Mr Granger appeared to prosecute and Mr E Ridley & Mr Mulvain defended. The prisoner appeared quite composed when asked her plea she replied “Not guilty”.

Mr Edge opened the case at considerable length reciting all the facts. The first question the jury should consider was how the murder was done. He thought the jury would come to the conclusion that it was done with the hammer that was found standing against the wall & that some person has struck him from behind and afterwards striking him on the face. The next question was by whom, as the evidence against the prisoner was circumstantial. It might be suggested that the person who committed this murder was some tramp who was passing. It appears that there was a footpath across the fell close to the house, but what was the motive – Robbery? However, nothing was stolen. Then it was said could it have been done by one of the neighbours? It was said that he was on good terms with both of his neighbours!

Thoughts were turned to someone else going there to commit murder, but surley they would take a murder weapon and not rely on finding something there to commit the crime. The conclusion was  made that the prisoner committed the crime.

Let’s look at the facts of the case and not rely on the conversation that took place between the prisoner and the deceased at dinner and tea time. The prisoner went out shortly after the deceased left the house and was away for about 10 minutes. During this time the father of the deceased heard a thud or fall from the direction of the loft where the deceased was found. According to the prisoner she found blood coming from the loft into the byre when she went milking at 6.30; therefore the decease must have been killed sometime between 5.30 & 6.30. Mr Ridley surveyed the buildings and found a gate which gave free access to the loft which would allow someone to gain access; without being seen from the house. There is no back door to the house and the view from the window at the back is obscured by a haystack.

John Snowball was called to give evidence. He was the father of the deceased. At the house, lived my sons John & Robert Snowball, myself and the prisoner. On the 1st of Jan. my son John was away to Haltwhistle. My nearest neighbours are Thomas Murray at Sandyford and the other neighbours are about 2 miles away at Peddon’s Hope. There is a footpath comes by Belmount House, which leads to Edmundbyers. That footpath is about 20 yards from the door. On the 1st Jan. the deceased, myself and the prisoner had dinner. After dinner my son said he had got to know the truth about the lad and she did not seem pleased and held her head. She did not say anything to him.

After tea my son said he thought he would go along to Sandyford. The door to the byre was closed. My son went out about 5.30. He had a cap on his head. The prisoner was in the kitchen. The prisoner reached up to the mantlepiece and pulled something down. As she closed the door between the porch and the kitchen she took a serious look at me. I heard a rattling which I thought was the lanterns. It was about quarter of an hour after my son had gone out. While she was out I heard a heavy fall after 8 – 10 minutes after the prisoner went out. She returned and sat down and put her head between her hands.

She went out to milk about 6.30. The cows were kept in the byre under the loft. She was out there about half an hour. When she returned she asked me if I had seen the blood coming down into the byre. I said it will be from the sheep I cut up in the loft the day before. I went to bed at about 10 o’clock the prisoner did not go out between seven and the time I went to bed. The prisoner used to feed the pigs in the east end of the building at about 8 o’clock every night. I said that Robert was long in returning she said nothing.

The next morning I came down the stairs about quarter after six. Not long after I came down the stairs the prisoner came in from milking. She said do you know where Robert is. I said “No”.  She said he has been lying in it all night in the old house loft; I believe he is died. I said “Lord have mercy upon us” and I told her to hold the lantern and we went in the loft. When I got to the loft it was closed.  I opened it and went in I found the deceased lying on his back with his head to the east and his feet to the west one foot in a box the other on the floor. I didn’t notice any blood when I first went in except from his mouth. The prisoner said nothing whilst in the loft. After my son left the house on the night in question I heard no other noise except the thud. That night there were three dogs shut up in the stable and they generally barked when strangers were about, but they were quiet all night.

At tea the deceased said he would go to Sandyford. The prisoner went out ten minutes or a quarter of an hour after the deceased. I was sitting when she went out and she gave a very ernest look, a look which I have never noticed before. When she came back she sat by the fireside. She set her elbows upon her knees and put her head upon her hands. Her face was highly coloured. She told me that blood was coming in the byre. I thought there was nothing extraordinary about the fact at the time. I left her sitting up and went to bed.

After she came back from milking she told me about my son. When I saw the deceased I was not aware of the injury to the back of the head until the doctor pointed it out. The hammer produced is a hammer used for the purpose of breaking stones and constantly stood in the loft. Re-examined by Mr Edge – A sheep was killed in the loft on the 30th Dec. and cut up the 31st. There was no mutton in the loft on the 1st Jan. It was removed to the house on 31st Dec.

Joseph Murray, a farmer at Manor House near Ramshaw, I was staying at Sandyford at the time. On Friday 2nd Jan. I went to Belmount Farm about 8.30 in the morning. I saw Jane Barron there and said. “Oh hunny what a bad job”. She said “Yes”. She also said that the old man had gone to Stobbs and the deceased was in the loft. She took me to the loft and I said he may have broken a blood vessel and she said “Yes”. I went to Blanchland and brought Dr Montgomery back to the farm. When we got there John Snowball the old man and Mr Stobbs were also there. Stobbs took the watch out of the deceased’s pocket. On turning the deceased over I noticed his head injury. On looking around the loft I saw the hammer. When I picked it up I noticed dry blood on it. I saw a cap and a rusty candlestick piece of candle was on the shelf having an appearance of having fallen. I did not draw Dr Montgomery’s attention to the hammer because I was not certain whether the hammer had been used to kill a pig. I have been to the farm before and have never noticed any unpleasantness in the family.

Mr Snowball swore that the cap produced was the cap his son wore. It was very seldom that a tramp or vagrant came to the farm.  I have only seen one tramp this winter. He was a man out of work going down to Edmundbyers. Very few people came along the road.

Henry Stobbs  – Farmer at Peddon’s Hope. He had been away and had to pass Belmount farm about 8.30. He did not notice anyone near. The next morning old Snowball came for him to go to the farm. He saw the deceased lying on the floor. The cap produced was there. Witness took the watch and chain from the deceased plus 10s 6d and a purse. There was no sign of a struggle. Close to the cupboard there was a candle lying bruised at the wick and against the wall there was also an unfinished gun case with blood on it.

Bell Ann Murray wife of Thomas Murray of Sandyford – On the morning of Friday 2nd Jan. at about 7.30, the prisoner came to her door and said she had found Robert dead in the old house. She said that she has sat up till 3 o’clock in the morning and he did not come home. The next morning she went to milk and after she milked went into the house to see if he was there. She found him lying on his back blood coming from his mouth. She then asked the old man where Robert was and he said he did not know and they both went onto the old house and he said “God help us its Robert” Witness went over to Belmount Farm and was present when the body was taken upstairs. She asked Jane Barron to give some assistance, but she said nothing.

Wm. Montgomery surgeon said on the 3rd Jan. last I was called to see the body of Robert Snowball in the loft. The head of the body was lying rather to the east side of the window. I examined the body and it was cold and rigid. There was no blood on the hands. I noticed that blood had come from the mouth. On examining the body I found a large wound on the skull. I probed three fingers into the wound. The bones were separated. I made a post mortem examination and found the skull to be fractured to such an extent to cause death. I saw the hammer, which fitted the wound on the skull. Deceased would fall immediately he received the injury. The teeth in the fore part of the mouth had all gone. The palate bone was broken. The injuries were such as might have been caused by the hammer. I could not say the position of the man would be standing when struck. There was a wound on the front which might have been caused by the side of the hammer. Blood might flow from the body for 12 hours after death. I did not think it was an accident when I saw the wound. I sent a telegram to the Police at Stanhope to say that the deceased had met his death by an accident. I found out however I had made a mistake.

Andrew Ferguson a Police Constable stationed at Ramshaw. On 2nd Jan. I was taken to the loft at Belmount. On 4th I went back to the farm and examined the loft especially a closet at the south west corner. I found a gun case and piece of candle produced. I found a candlestick and cup as well. On 6th I searched Jane Barron’s room and found a dress. I showed it to her and asked how she accounted for the blood stains. She said she could not. I also found a hood and the prisoner accounted for the stain on it by blood coming through the boards while milking. On 8th I visited the loft again and found the boards on the loft floor were close. There had been blood running between the boards. The position of the board I examined and put the knife through was such that if any person passed under it and blood was running through they would be stained. I got Jane Barron’s hood and dress from her bedroom.

Richard Liddle Inspector – Durham Constabulary said on 6th Jan. he went to Belmount and searched the prisoner’s box. I found an apron and handkerchief upon which were blood stains which the prisoner could not account for. I examined the cow byre partition the same night and found three marks of blood on one of the boards. The board was at the end of the partition between where the cows stand and where the hay is kept. On 22nd Jan. I went back again to the cow byre and found some marks of blood on the partition. On the 4th board from the top I found only a small speck of blood. I did not find any considerable marks of blood. I found where the blood had gone through, a place beside a post. The whole of the flooring was taken up and examined and the only place where blood had gone through was inside the partition in the hay stall. The blood had got between the boards where the cows were but had not penetrated so as to drip. I was in the kitchen when the experiment was made in the loft.

John Thorburn Superintendent of Police at Stanhope said on 6th Jan. I took the prisoner into custody at 11:00 o’clock at night in the kitchen at Belmount. I took her to Stanhope the following morning and charged her with murder. She never spoke when charged. After I charged her she said she was innocent

Summing up Mr Edge addressed the jury and urged them that all the evidence though circumstantial pointed to the prisoner as the person who murdered Robert Snowball. She was the only person living on the premises who could have done it and it could not be shown that anyone else had any motive to commit such a deed. Mr Ridley in his defence said he was at a loss to know why Jane Barron had been brought before the Court as he could not see any grounds for her being placed in such a position as she was that day.  He then criticised the testimony of old John Snowball pointing out he contradicted himself each time he was called on and asked the jury to doubt his accuracy of his statements. The statement of the prisoner on the other hand was completely in accord with the evidence of the other witnesses. Her conduct throughout was that of an innocent girl and that the murder had been committed by someone else. He asked the jury to return a verdict in favour of his client.

His lordship began to sum up he said that the evidence against the prisoner was not conclusive then they should return a verdict of not guilty.  On the other hand if they came to the conclusion that she followed the man out & went onto the room after him and being in the room struck him on the head killing him they could find no other verdict than guilty.

At 7.20 the jury retired and were absent only 7 minutes. The Clerk asked the foreman for their verdict he answered “Yes” – Not Guilty (Applause, which was at once suppressed)

The prisoner then left the dock once outside she was warmly received by her friends.  A cab was waiting to convey her to the railway station. Mr Page the Station Master placed Barron and her friends in the second class waiting room. On leaving she chatted and talked and answered any questions. She took her seat on a third class carriage and remained standing at the window until the whistle was blown.

A few years later another newspaper article appeared about her – After being acquitted Jane went to live with her father in the borders of Northumberland. At the May hiring’s in Newcastle she was engaged by a farmer in the North Tyne where she had been previously engaged. Since then she had conducted herself in an extraordinary way walking about her bedroom at night and frightening the whole household with her ravings The farmer paid her a half years wages and dismissed her. Since then she has become violent and has been admitted to a lunatic asylum.  This part of the story is incorrect as Jane Barron sued the owner of the ‘Consett Guardian’ for printing this libel – She was still employed and had never been in an Asylum!

Rumours were a bound that old Snowball confessed to the murder on his death bed, but this was never confirmed. The murderer was never found!

This Week in World War One, 14 December 1917






The committee delegates who each night meet the last north bound train at Berwick, and on behalf of laudable institution which provide meals for soldiers and sailors coming off a long train journey, looks after the men’s welfare, have many strange experiences.

On Wednesday evening when Mr Thos. Boal, Mr Abbott and Mr Geo. Dryden were on duty as the train came in two K.O.S.B. men were happily re-united after having enlisted, trained, fought, and became casualty together.

“As the first lad came off the train, “said Mr Boal, “a K.O.S.B. lad came along, and we asked where he was going.” “To the Barracks, “he answered. “Then you better have a bite of supper before you go.”

Berwick Railway Station early 1900s. © Berwick Record Office – BRO 1636-10-013

Just then a Northern Cyclist came along, and he also was offered and accepted hospitality. Two other lads came along, and on one of them catching sight of the first lad, shouted “Hullo, Tom, old man; fancy meeting you here.”

The company adjourned to partake of a short repast, and as they talked the conversation brought out that these two lads had known each other before they joined up, had trained, were sent to France- had been treated at the same dressing station.

“Where did you get your blighty?” asked Mr Boal. “We were about Ypres with the –th then.”

“My friend here has a son who was with you as an officer and was wounded there.”

“What’s the name?” asked both lads.

“Lieut. Abbott,” said Mr Boal.

“Abbott,” shouted both lads, “why, he was our platoon officer.”

Truly the world is a small place after all.




Amongst local Volunteers the Battalion Shoot which will likely take place on the miniature range at Berwick is creating a good deal of interest. Eight men will be selected from each platoon to shoot off and the best eight shots out of the thirty two competitors will be selected to represent the Company when the Battalion Shoot comes off. Now is the time for local marksmen to uphold the name of the Borough. Another competition coming off is one of efficiency. All platoons will compete, and the best platoon of the local Company will meet the best of other companies in the Battalion. The most efficient platoon of the Battalion will be then chosen to meet the best platoon of Battalions in the Northern Command.





Private Albert Richardson

We are sorry to hear that Private Albert Richardson, K.O.S.B., son of Councillor Peter Richardson, Church Street, Berwick, has been wounded in action. He has already been wounded once. Enlisting in the early stages of 1916 he was trained at Duddingston and drafted to France. In civil life he was employed as a grocer.


We are sorry to learn that Private Walter Robson, K.O.S.B., son of Mrs Robson, Church St., Berwick, has been killed in action. He enlisted in the early stages of the war and was only a short time ago on leave. In civil life he was employed as a slaughterman at the Shambles, Berwick. The deepest sympathy is felt for the family in their bereavement.


Private Robert Stokoe

We regret to announce that Mr Thos. Stokoe, 66 Shielfield Terrace, Tweedmouth, has received word that his second and remaining son, Private Robert Stokoe, East Lancs., has been killed in action on November 28th. What makes it all the more sad is that only three months have elapsed since his brother, Private Jas. Stokoe was killed. Both these lads were worthy pupils of Mr Peacock, Boys’ National School, Tweedmouth.

Private Robert Stokoe in civilian life was a traveller for William Redpath and Son, and was very popular with everyone he came in contact with in and around the Berwick district. He was three times rejected before Lord Derby’s scheme came out, and subsequently he joined up in the Northumberland Fusiliers, but after ten days’ training he was discharged. In February of this year he joined up wih the Royal Scots Fusiliers (Labour Battalion) with whom after four weeks training he proceeded to France. After nine months work at the front he was transferred first to the H.L.I., and then to the East Lancs., with whom he met his death. He was a brave, generous, loving, cheerful young man, one of the very best. His letters home were always cheerful, and he was always “sticking it” well. The greatest sympathy will be felt for Mr and Mrs Thos. Stokoe and family on this second sad bereavement.

This Week in World War One, 30 November 1917








James Burgon, Army veterinary Corps, horse-shoer, who resides with his parents at 29 Low Greens, Berwick, arrived home on Thursday morning, 29th November, on a fortnight’s leave. Suffering from a poisoned hand some folks have concluded that he has been wounded, but happily this is not the case. Private Burgon has seen three years’ service, and was a blacksmith with Messrs Caverhill. He is a son of Mr Alick Burgon, motor ferryman.

Lance-Corporal W. Macdonald, Australians, son of Mr Henry Macdonald, formerly a baker in Castlegate, and a well-known oarsman on the Tweed in his young days, broke his journey at Berwick on Wednesday to make a few calls upon old friends. He has just come out of Hospital, this being the 2 time he has been wounded. After being wounded on the last occasion he was for a time at a Hospital in France where Nurse K. Mackay, daughter of Surgeon Major W. B. Mackay, C. M. G., is ministering.

A team of the 2nd Field Ambulance inside a makeshift hospital during World War One. Photograph taken between 1917 and 1918 in France, by Henry Armytage Sanders. © National Library NZ (No known copyright restrictions). Wikimedia Commons.

He was there during the period when the Hospital was bombarded by hostile aircraft, and his one regret is that time did not permit of his calling upon the brave lady’s mother. Lance-Corporal Macdonald served for some years in the Royal Navy, and was one of the crew of H.M.S. Berwick, when the 5th Cruiser Squadron visited this port. He with the other members of the family had been some time in Australia when war broke out, and along with his brother Henry he came to the help of the Motherland. We wish him the best of luck for the future.

We are pleased to see Driver Dick Pringle home on his first leave, he has been 10 months in the army and he has enjoyed his holiday amongst his friends. He is a native of Tweedmouth. Prior to enlistment he was employed by Mr Scott, Branxton Allotments. Driver Pringle has had two brothers in the army, one being killed and the other in France in the Tank Corps. Driver Pringle has two brothers-in-laws serving also. Driver Pringle is the youngest son of Mr and Mrs Pringle, Murton, Berwick-on-Tweed.




A social evening was held in the Mitchell memorial Hall, on Tuesday evening, under the auspices of Mr M. Ross’s Bible Class, for the purpose of providing the funds to supply comforts to serving members. Mr Ross presided, and a number of the local clergy and social workers attended. An interesting programme was gone through and occasion was taken to present the prizes o those members who had attended regularly. During the evening a silver collection was taken as a result of which about £4 will be devoted to the object in view. A few friends generously sent in 130 pair of socks which are to be distributed to the 120 Class lads serving with the colours at home and abroad. The following were awarded prizes for having made the highest possible number of attendance:- A.D. Watt, James Lee, Charles Wright, James D. Wakenshaw, James Young, Thomas Piercy, Joseph Gray, James Walkenshaw, R. Smith, John Walkenshaw, and Wm. Tait. Those awarded prizes only having missed on one occasion were, George Young, G. Hunter, G. White, Arthur Paxton, Robert Stirling, S. Longbone, and Joseph Simpson.

Excellent and fascinating films are being shown at the Queen’s Rooms, Berwick, this week. The pictures are being exhibited clearly and steadily as is now a feature of the management. On Friday and Saturday first there is to be a stirring drama, the “Mystery of the Seven Chests,” and also “Rescued by Wireless,” showing the marvellous utility of Marconi’s invention. On Monday and Tuesday the film will be “The Queen’s Double,” and “Boy Scouts be Prepared.” The later film has been screened in all the leading picture halls, and should powerfully appeal to all our local boy scouts. A children’s matinee will take place on Saturday afternoon at 2.30.





The following men, who had been granted exemption on condition they became efficient Volunteers, and who had not done so, were then called before the Tribunal.

William Bell and William Swinney, employed as potmen at the Spittal Chemical Works, stated that when their work was finished they were so exhausted as sometimes to be hardly able to walk home. They were doing four men’s work, and it was work of a most ardous nature.

Taken later, a photograph of the Spittal Chemical Works where both William Bell and William Swinney worked in 1917. Both men were brought to a tribunal for failing to become efficient volunteers. © Berwick Record Office, BRO 1887-23-7.

The Military Representative – Do you know that in case of invasion you men would be sent into the country with the women and children, and men of 55 would be fighting to protect you? You are immensely better off than if we were sending you to France.

They were ordered to become efficient Volunteers, otherwise their exemption would be cancelled.

James Bryson stated he had joined the Volunteers, but Dr Fraser had ordered him to stop drilling at once. Adjourned for medical examination.

The case of Thomas Mark was adjourned to see if he was drilling regularly as a Volunteer before next Tribunal. The Military representative said that it was quite possible Mark would be in the army before next Tribunal as his exemption was really cancelled through the condition of exemption not being compiled with.

Norman Todd and William Unthank were also informed that if they did not join the Volunteers, and become efficient, their exemption would be cancelled.




The arrangements for the Free Gift Sale to be held in aid of the British Farmers Red Cross Fund are now well advanced.

British Red Cross Ambulance in French service, Northern France. © SMU Central University Libraries (No known copyright restrictions). Wikimedia Commons.

The Wooler Volunteer detachment were engaged in various exercises in the Drill Hall on Sunday morning. The detachment was inspected by Major Graham, O.C. of the Battalion, the previous day, when this officer expressed his pleasure at all he saw.

A Volunteer detachment is being formed under favourable conditions at Ford.

The weekly house-to-house collection in aid of the Wooler War Depot for the weeks Nov. 16th and 23rd realised £1 10s and £1 5s respectively.

It is reported that Corporal C. Carr, son of Mr Alex. Carr, Wooler, now in hospital, has been awarded the Military Medal.

The Volunteers are holding a whist drive and dance on Friday evening next in the Drill Hall in aid of the local War Workers’ Depot.

That Magnificent Woman in her Flying Machine

Constance (Connie) Ruth Leathart was born on 7 December 1903 in Low Fell, Gateshead. In 1925 Connie started flying lessons at Newcastle Aero Club and is said to have written her name as “C. R. Leathart” on the application form in order to disguise her gender. She had her first flying lesson in the aeroplane Novocastria [G-EBLX] in September 1925 and her Pilot’s Log Book records that she was in the air for 15 minutes. On 24 February 1926 her log book states that she conducted her first solo flight but she unfortunately crashed on landing. Connie was resilient and was back in the air again on 1 March for a 30 minute flight. In 1927 she received her flying licence and became the first British female pilot outside London to achieve this, and was one of only 20 female pilots in the UK overall.


Pilot’s Licence


Connie became part of a group of flying socialites and participated successfully in many air races both in this country and throughout Europe. Her photograph albums contain numerous photographs to support this. Her talent was evident from an early stage. In June 1927 the publication ‘The Aeroplane’ reported on a Newcastle Race Meeting. It was noted that there was no race for women that day so there was no chance of seeing “Newcastle’s own Aviatress, Miss Leathart, in the air which was a pity, for good judges say that this sporting little lady looks like being really as good as a good mere-male pilot.”


Constance Leathart


In the late 1920’s and early 1930’s she set up and ran Cramlington Aircraft with her lifelong friend Walter Leslie Runciman (later Viscount Runciman). Their aircraft repair business repaired and overhauled aircrafts in order for them to pass and obtain yearly certificates of air worthiness. Connie and Walter were very close friends and her albums have numerous photographs of them together. In one of the shots she classes the pair of them as “Brothers”.



Connie had a few frightening experiences when flying. In April 1930 when landing at Cramlington she had a narrow escape when her plane crashed and overturned. The plane was badly damaged but she escaped unhurt. Witnesses reported that it had struck the ground nose first and turned a complete somersault. She had flown from London and due to foggy conditions near Cramlington, she misjudged the distance from the ground and made a bumpy landing which resulted in the accident. In 1931 she also escaped injury when her plane crashed near Munich. These experiences did not deter her and in 1939,  when working in the map department at Bristol Airport, she applied to join the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA). During her time with them she achieved the ATA rank of Flight Captain, flying heavy bombers as well as fighters to airfields in many countries. Her final log book, held by Northumberland Archives covers the years 1943-1956 and states that her total flying time as a pilot to date was 1283 hours and 30 minutes.


Connie in her ATA Uniform


After the Second World War, Connie went to work with the United Nations on relief efforts in the Mediterranean. As a UN special representative she helped distribute food and medical supplies. In 1950 she received an award of merit from the International Union of Child Welfare. She reluctantly gave up flying in 1958 and retired to a farm in Little Bavington caring for rescue donkeys. Connie died on 4 November 1993 aged 89.


Ordre De Merite


Connie’s early photograph albums from 1923-1926 contain many images of friends and family enjoying holidays in the Scottish Highlands, Italy, Cornwall and France.They also highlight her love of horses and the hunt. It is in her latter albums covering the period 1927-1944 that her true passion and dedication to aviation is evident. Below are three of the aircraft that this remarkable lady owned.


Connie’s Aeroplanes


This Week in World War One, 16 November 1917








Trooper J. Bainbridge, N.H., West End, Tweedmouth is home on a few days leave. Prior to enlistment he was employed in the grocery department, Tweedside Co-operative Stores. His brother Ted, is also serving.

We are pleased to see home from France on a few days leave, Pte. John Patterson, K.O.S.B., attached to R.S. He was wounded in the hand some time ago, his photo appeared in our columns at that time. Pte. Patterson has been 15 months in France. We wish him the best of luck.

Corporal R. Blackhall, N.F., West End is here on a few days leave. Previous to enlisting he was employed by the Border Brewery Coy.

Private John Wood, H.L.I., here from France on a few days’ leave, has been once wounded. Previous to enlistment he was employed by the Maypole Diary Company at Berwick.

Another local lad home on leave from France this week is Private Thomas Short, who resides in Kiln Hill, Tweedmouth. He joined the N.F. about two years ago, and after training at Alnwick proceed to France. He is now in the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment. Previous to enlistment he was employed at the pipe factory, Tweedmouth. His brother George who is a Sergeant in the N.F. is training Volunteers at Hull.

Lance-Corporal J. Burgon, 18 Kiln Hill, whom we reported last week as being home on short leave is in the 2nd Gordon Highlanders, and not in the K.O.S.B.’s The  gallant Corporal is a splendid athlete, and is the proud possessor of five silver cups which testify to his prowess in the field of sport. He is no less keen in the discharge of his military duties, and on three occasions has received the thanks of his commanding officer for distinguishing himself by good service in the field.

Lance-Corporal James Dowens, A. and S. Highlanders, Berwick has spent a short leave in his native town before leaving for Oxford, where he will sit for his examinations for a commission. He was in Africa when war broke out and left a splendid position to come home and enlist. Twelve months ago he was wounded in action, after having been some four months in France, and since then he has been in hospital. We wish him the best of luck.





Our many readers will be sorry to hear of the death of Harry Demee, one of the oldest and best known characters about this town of Berwick-on-Tweed. Young and old, rich and poor, all knew Harry.

He was a sailor by profession, but his connection with the sea, however, was not confined to coasting, for in his younger days he visited Europe, Asia, Africa, and America and filled all the positions on board shop, from cabin boy to skipper.

Many old Berwickers will remember him one of the crew of the Clippers, and steward on board the steamboat which traded between Berwick and London.

The Berwick to Spittal ferry which Harry Demee would have worked on. © Berwick Record Office, BRO 1887-33-3.

Since retirement from the sea he has led a very active life. For many years he was a well-known figure on the ferry between Berwick and Spittal.

In winter time when the “Soup Kitchen” was called into being, Harry was there as cook.

As Church Officer at Chapel Street Church he was favourite with parson and layman alike, and had a cheery remark for all, and the bairns who attended the Sunday School all knew “Old Harry.”

For the last two years he has acted as green keeper for the Working Men’s Bowling Club, and many of the players who frequent the sunny spot in Upper Ravensdowne will recall his yarns told in a way which defied all imitation.





The marriage was solemnised in the Parish Church, Berwick, on Wednesday, between Lieut. Cecil Olcher Fedden, 22nd Punjabis, att. Royal Flying Corps, son of Mr F. Player Fedden, Glenthorpe, Barnet, and Miss Shena Lennox Fraser, eldest daughter of Lieut-Colonel C. l. Fraser (T.) R.A.M.C., J.P., Elder House, Ravensdowne, Berwick.

Pictured is Elder House, Ravensdowne, Berwick, the residence of the bride Shena Lennox Fraser.

The happy event had been fixed to take place on Monday, 3rd December, but owing to the bridegroom, having been offered an important appointment abroad, matters were arranged within the short period of twenty-four hours.

The ceremony was performed by the Vicar of Berwick, the Rev. R. W. de la Hey, and there were a great many friends and well-wishers present.

The bride, who was given away by her father, looked charming. She wore an under dress of gold tissue, with an overdress of champagne georgette with a deep pan velvet border of the same colour. She also wore a veil with a deep border of gold lace, with a gold band fitting tightly to the forehead, and carried a bouquet of bronze chrysanthemums, presented by Mrs Adam Darling, Bondington, Berwick.

The bridesmaid was Miss N. Fraser (sister), and she was dressed in jade green georgette.

The bridegroom, who was in uniform of his unit, was attended by Lieut. Swanston, K.O.S.B., who acted as best man.

The mother of the bride was dressed in grey georgette with coloured sash, while Mrs St. John, cousin of the bride, was dressed in cerise georgette.

Mr Ballantyne, organist of Wallace Green Church, presided at the organ, and gave an excellent rendering of the customary wedding music, whike the hymns, “Love Divine,” and “O Perfect Love,” were sung.

Amongst those present were observed Mrs Adam Darling, the Rev. R.C. Inglis and Lieut. Robert Inglis (who is home on leave), Miss Clay (Ravensdowne), Mrs T. Darling, Miss Darling, Misses Darling-Robertson, Mrs de la Hey, Misses Alder (Halidon), Mrs and Miss McCreath, Mrs Macaky, Miss Pearson, Mrs Riddell, Miss Robertson, Mrs Worsdell, Miss E.F. Smail, Miss Dunlop, etc., etc.

The bridegroom’s presents to the bridesmaids were silver chain bags.

The happy couple left by the 3.9 train for York. The bridegroom, we understand, has been granted ten days’ leave subject to cancellation if his services are required sooner.

The bride’s going away dress was a long champagne coloured coat trimmed with sable fur, while she also wore a brown velvet hat to match, with Russian sable furs, the gift of her mother.

A number of friends accorded a hearty send-off and expressed their good wishes for the future happiness of the couple.

Mrs Fedden will be “At Home” at Elder House, Berwick, on the 28th, 29th, and 40th November.




ANDERSON – In loving remembrance of Private W. Anderson, N.F., who was killed in action on November 14th, 1916, aged 22 years and three months.

In the prime of life I was cut off,

No longer could I stay,

Because it was my Saviour’s will

To call me hence away.

No sin, no care can reach him now,

An angel’s crown is on his brow;

He’s reached the ransomed joyful band

Whose home is in the better land.

 Ever remembered by his sister-in-law, Mrs T. Anderson, Fenham Hill.

Private W. Anderson, N.F., remembered: Graves in the Thiepval Anglo-French Cemetery, seen with the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, Thiepval, France. © This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.


ATHEY – In loving memory of Lance-Corporal J.W. Athey, aged 22 years, who was killed in action in France, November 17th, 1916, the only son of Mr and Mrs Athey, Beal Station.

Although his face we cannot see, his voice we cannot hear,

We often sit and think of him, and shed a silent tear;

Friends may think that we have forgot him,

when at times we are apt to smile,

Little knowing what grief is hidden beneath the surface all the while.

Ever remembered by his loving father and mother and sisters.


DIGGLE – In loving memory of James, the dearly beloved husband of Euphemia Diggle (nee Curle), who died November 17th, 1916.

One lonely year has passed away

Since my dear husband was called away,

And, oh, the pain it was severe

For I little thought death was so near.

When I took around our lonely house

And see his vacant chair,

Where he used to sit with his listening ear

Until I told him all my cares.

But now he is gone, my heard is sad,

Through this dark world I tread,

But methinks I can see how he is waiting for me

In the beautiful land on high.

Sadly missed by his sorrowing wife and family and eldest son, Eddie, in France-Brinkburn, Pauperhaugh.

This Week in World War One, 2 November 1917








We are deeply grieved to have to report that Sergt. Ernest Falla, third son of Mr and Mrs Thomas Falla, North Bank, Belford, has fallen at the post of duty in France. Prior to enlisting this young fellow was employed as footman with Mr Graham, Cartin, Carluke, Scotland, and had a most comfortable place, but his sense of duty to his King and Country was Treasurer, Mr J. Brand, Bank of Liverpool, call for help was given, so on September 3rd, 1914, he enlisted into the H.L.I., and soon after was transferred to the Machine Gun Corps and later to South African Infantry Brigade. On May the 10th, 1915, he sailed for France, and with the exception of one leave in January last has been doing his best to beat the Huns since that time. He won his stripes on the battlefield, and that is sufficient proof of the excellent way his duties have been performed. Ernest was a smart pleasant lad, and his loss is greatly mourned, and widespread sympathy is expressed for the bereaved relatives.



As has already been announced by the Minister of National Service, Great Britain will, for the purpose of recruiting, be divided into 10 regions, at the head of each there will be a civilian Director of Recruiting.

The Director for Scotland is Mr C.D. Murray, K.C., and his region will include the whole of Scotland, except the town of Berwick. Mr Murray is a well-known advocate at the Scottish Bar.

The Director for the counties of Northumberland, Cumberland, Durham, and Westmorland, with the Cleveland District of Yorkshire, and Berwick, is Mr D. H. L. Young, a member of the firm of Messrs James Templeton and Co., of Glasgow. He has had experience of administration of the Military Service Acts as a member of an appeal tribunal.


According to an Army Council Instruction just issued by the War Office, it has been decided to abolish the distinction between categories B and C in the classification of men by categories. As to men fit for service overseas in categories lower than A, the Instruction points out that this will be provided for by special medical examination when the men are required to proceed abroad. The new classification comes into force on November 1.

Category A is for men fit for general service in any theatre of war, from the point of training, as well as good physical and mental condition, and who are able to stand active service work.

Category B will consist of those who are not fit for general service, but will do for home service. There are three sections in B (i.) men fit for field units (at home only) or garrison duty (ii.) in labour units, (iii.) sedentary work.

These are followed in the Instruction by category D for men who may be deemed temporarily unfit for service in categories A or B, but who are likely to become fit within six months.

Category E provides for those who are unfit for services in categories A or B, and who are not likely to become fit in six months.

Category B (iii.), it should be added, also comprises those who, if skilled tradesmen, are able to work at their trades.

Category D is temporary, so far as reserve units are concerned, and a man in a higher category will automatically come under D3, if under medical or dental treatment, rejoining his original category until transferred either upwards or downwards, as the case may be, by the medical officer or travelling medical board.






This year real service has been rendered in work of this class by school children, also women. Many of the rural school boards have risen well to the occasion this year in the way of granting leave. Farmers generally are grateful, not only for the assistance which they have got in this way, but also for the help which women and soldiers have rendered. Many increased their potato area this year to meet as far as possible national necessity, and it is not easy seeing how the crop could have been handled but for the extra help that has been obtained in this way.





The marriage which has been arranged between Lieut. Cecil Olcher Fedden, 22nd Punjabis attached to the Royal Flying Corps, eldest son of Mr F. Player Fedden, Glenthorpe, Barnet, and Miss Shena Lennox Fraser, eldest daughter of Colonel C. l. Fraser, V.D., Berwick, will take place quietly on Monday, 3rd December, in Berwick Parish Church. Lieut. Fedden has seen a good deal of active service, and fought on the Indian frontier in 1911 in the Abor expedition.

Berwick Parish Church. © John Box – Friends of Berwick and District Museum and Archives website.

He was fourteen months in Mesopotamia at the beginning of the present war, being badly wounded at the battle of Ctesiphon. He made his escape out of Kut the day before it was besieged – 3rd December, 1915. Miss Fraser is well known for her good work in Berwick and district. She acted as Secretary for the Berwickshire Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Family Association and worked enthusiastically for the cause, while she also took an active interest in her work as a member of the local War Pensions Committee.



A.B. Robert Lilburn


We are pleased to announce that the Distinguished Service Medal has been awarded to Able Seaman Robert Lilburn, R.N.R., for bravery in saving the lives of the crew of a mined ship in December last. Seaman Lilburn, who is a Holy Island man, and a son of the late Mr James Lilburn, who was drowned many years ago at the Island under distressing circumstances when piloting a steamboat into the harbour, has seen two years’ service with the mine sweeping sections of the Fleet, and has been regularly at sea since then. In civil life he followed the calling of a fisherman. His many friends will heartily congratulate him upon the honour just awarded.



Gallant Lifeboatmen – A pleasing ceremony took place at Holy Island. Mr A. Logan, of Berwick, acting on behalf of the Swedish Government, presented handsome cups to Coxwain George Cromarty and Second Coxwain Thomas Kyle, and a sum of £2 to each of the crew of the Holy Island No.2 Lifeboat, for the rescue of the crew of the Swedish barque Jolani, in Nov. 1916.

An early photograph of the Holy Island lifeboat crew, pictured left to right are Tom Kyle, John Markwell, George Cromarty, Tom Stevenson and Robert Henderson. © Berwick Record Office, BRO 2421-018.

The rescue took place under exceptional difficulties, the wind blowing a gale from the east. The two coxswains expressed their thanks to Mr Logan, and through him to the Swedish Government, Mr Kyle declaring that all the members of the crew had done equally well. On the suggestion of Mr Logan a collection was taken for the Royal Lifeboat Institution, to which all responded heartily.

This Week in World War One, 19 October 1917








Private Fred Laidlaw, Black Watch, Station Cottages, Tweedmouth, is presently home on a few days’ leave. Two of his brothers serving in the same regiment have fallen in the war.

Private George Skelly, R.F.A., Man Street, Tweedmouth, is home from France on a well earned leave. Before joining up he was employed by the G.P.O. on the Royal Mail van. His brother James is serving in the Northumberland Fusliers.

Another Tweedmouth lad home on leave from France is Private William Colthard, Dock Road. He joined the Northern Cyclists shortly after the outbreak of war. Private Colthard was employed by the Scremerston Colliery Company as a miner previous to enlisting.

British bicycle troops Brie, Somme March 1917 (c) Author: Ernest Brooks.

We are pleased to see home on leave, Private James Fairbairn, Black Watch. He resides at Falloden Terrace, Tweedmouth.

Corporal Harry Mason, K.O.S.B, is home on leave this week from France. He has come through some heavy fighting, and has been on active service practically since war began. He is looking hale and hearty despite having been wounded four times. He resides in West End, Tweedmouth. We wish him the best of luck.

Priv. Yourston, Main Street, Tweemouth, is among those home on a few days’ leave. He is in the Northumberland Fusiliers, and gained the D.C.M. about a year ago.

Delighted to see among us this week, Articifer Alexander Arnott, R.N., who is home for a few days’ leave from his strenuous duties. His parents reside in Blakewell Road, Tweedmouth. Previous to enlisting he was employed with Messrs Wm. Elder and Sons, implement makers, Berwick.

Private Joseph Clark, Tyneside Scottish, Parliament Close, Tweedmouth is home from France on leave. He joined the Northern Cyclists shortly after the outbreak of war. Previous to enlistment he was employed at Tweed Saw Mills.

May the best of luck attend Shoeing-Smith G.S. Lindsay, Royal Canadian Dragoons, who has been with us enjoying his well-earned ten days leave. Altogether he has been in France two and a half years. Good luck to this young fellow who is looking so healthy, and may he return all safe when peace is proclaimed.

Artificer G. Younger, Knowe Head, Tweedmouth is home on leave. Two of his brothers have fallen in the war. He was employed by the Scremerston Colliery Company as a miner.

Pleased to see Seaman Robert Havery, Berwick, home on leave for a few days, looking fit and well. He enlisted shortly after war broke out into the R.N.R. Previous to that he was employed by the N.E.R.




Private Wm. Burns of the K.O.S.B., son of Mr and Mrs Wm. Burns, Norham, has again been wounded, for the fifth time. He got his right leg blown off by the knee. He has been in France four times, suffering once from rheumatism in feet and legs, and got to Blighty for a time for arrest; his other wounds were not serious enough to send him home. He volunteered at the outbreak of war in August 1914. We wish him a speedy recovery.

British official photographs from the Western Front (c) Author: Ernest Brooks, National Library of Scotland. Source Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License




“Lodon Opinion” for October 20th, gives us this extract from German Wireless :- “Whilst operating in the North Sea (no date given, one of our gallant submarines successfully attacked and dispersed a large cargo of monkey nuts” There is a full page picture of the Commanders of the submarine, one with his binoculars to his eyes surveying a sea of nuts extending almost as far as from Holy Island to Coldingham.

Probate of the will of the late Mr Henry Richardson Smail, proprietor of the “Berwick Advertiser” and “Berwickshire Advertiser” newspapers, Berwick-upon-Tweed, has been granted to his executors, Messrs Thomas Purves and Alexander Darling, of Berwick-upon-Tweed, and Mr Frank P. Hamilton, of Darlington. The Testator’s estate has been sworn at £16,192 13s 10d gross, and, subject to a gift of £500 to his sister, Miss E.F. Smail, passes to the Testator’s son, Major H.R. Smail, 7th Northumberland Fusiliers (T.F.).





The many friends in Belford of Private Wm. Hilton (Billy) will be grieved to learn that he is wounded and a prisoner in Germany. On Saturday last, Mr Sanderson, West Street, Belford, received a post card presumably from a chum of Billy’s informing him of the sad events. The postal address given on card is Geldrieben den, Strenlager Wake, Germany, and the unfortunate little boy’s number is 23396. We are taking the liberty of giving the full address as some charitably disposed person may be anxious to send him a parcel. He is a native of Leicester, but spent 9 months in Belford in Signalling Section of Northern Cyclists, and went to France three or four months ago, was transferred to R.O.Y.L.I. He was a great favourite with the lads of his Company as well as with many of the villagers. We tender our sympathy and wish he may have a quick recovery and early return to Blighty