Archive for March 2015

Netherton Reformatory & One Man’s First World War Story – David Eckstein

Amongst the many collections held by Northumberland Archives are the papers of the Netherton Reformatory. The Reformatory was situated north east of the village of Stannington, just off the A1, 10 miles north of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and was built in 1853, as a reformatory for ‘delinquent’ boys. Within this collection you will find many records relating to the boys that spent time in the Reformatory. These include admission and discharge registers and information about the conduct of the boys during the time they spent there.
Northumberland Archives recently worked with Voices Making Choices [VMC], which is Northumberland’s Children in Care Council. They currently look after 325 children from birth up to 16 years old as well as approximately 150 young people aged between16 and 24, who are preparing to leave the care system.
Recently VMC created an exhibition to commemorate the great history of Netherton Park Children’s Homes, from its opening in 1853 up until its planned closure in 2014. VMC wanted to look back and see how looked after children in the early 1900’s lived and were cared for so they could compare this to their lives as a looked after child today.
To commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the First World War the group decided to look closer into researching Netherton Park’s history around 1914 and during the research the group found that 570 young people from Netherton volunteered to defend our country in the First World War.
The young people involved have helped research the content at the Northumberland Archives at Woodhorn and have worked with a photographer to create an exhibition and a photography book.
Using our records we are able to build up a picture about the life of one of the boys – David Eckstein.
David Eckstein was born in London around 1896 and was admitted to the Reformatory on 10th July 1909. He was 5ft tall with a small face and fresh complexion, dark hair and dark brown eyes, weighing 86lbs. He also had a tattoo on his forearm. [Ref NRO 820/B9]. He was convicted in London on 9th July 1909 for feloniously stealing a pair of shoes and a pair of opera glasses worth 5 shillings and 6 pence. For this he was sentenced to stay at the Reformatory until he was 19 years old.

NRO 0820-O-07David was a Jewish boy from one of the poorest parts of London. How did he end up so far from home? A letter held by London Metropolitan Archives, dated 7th July 1882 confirms that ‘Netherton Reformatory’ is the only school in England, which receives Jewish boys and educates them apart from Christian Worship.’ [Ref LMA/MJ/SP/1882/07/016].
NRO 0820-O-3 NETHERTON REFORMATORYA reformatory was an institution aimed at re-educating boys who had committed a criminal offence. Their parents were expected to make a contribution to the cost of their keep. These payments could have been as much as 5 shillings a week – equivalent to around £15 today. The age of entry and discharge changed over the years, but by 1893 the minimum age on entry was 12 whilst the age on release had gone from 21 to 19. Following the Children & Young Person’s Act of 1932, Reformatories and Industrial schools were amalgamated to form what was known as an “Approved School.”
The Headmaster at Netherton lived in the large Victorian house in the centre of the school. The staff lived in houses adjacent to the large dormitory building where the boys slept. The boy’s life’s involved working on the farms and workshops, where they were taught various skills. Many of the local farmers purchased carts, implements and gates from the Reformatory as well as employing the boys as casual labour. Netherton also had its own chapel and playing fields.
What must David had thought about this place. He was from Whitechapel and had been sent to the wild open countryside of Northumberland. This must have been a cultural shock to him. Fresh air and strange accents?
The admission register provides us with a wealth of interesting information about his family with additional information gleaned from viewing the census records. By 1909 his father had dead and his mother Eva Eckstein was working as a tailoress. David had a brother called Jack who was 8 years old and the family were living at 22 Collingwood Street, Bethnal Green. Further family members are listed as Uncle W. Solomon & Auntie Kitty Solomon of 44 Rectory Square, Stepney.
Whilst at the Reformatory David was involved in a number of incidents which resulted in the deduction of various merit points as revealed by entries in the Reformatory Conduct Book [ref NRO 820/C3]. Some of the offences listed were – deceitful conduct, inattention to prayers; bad/neglecting work, not brushing his hair; pinching turnips & talking whilst cleaning teeth to name but a few!
In 1901, David aged 7 was living with his grandparents at 22 Collingwood Street, Bethnal Green. His grandfather, David Eckstein was a 76 year old tailor who had been born in Austria. His grandmother was called Simeh aged 68. The couple had a son called Philip living with them. Philip was aged 34, a general dealer, born in Whitechapel. In the 1871 the family were living at 8 Paradise Place, Christ Church, Whitechapel. The family consisted of David born in Austria, Simeh his wife, born in Poland and their children – Isaac 17; Nathan 11; Sarah 9; Eve 7; Phillip 3 & Leah 1. By 1881 the family were living at 18 Cobbs Court, Spitalfields. Had they moved to London to escape persecution in Europe?
Following David’s discharge in November 1912 [ref NRO 820/B25] he was placed out to Mr Thompson at New Town, Rothbury, Northumberland. In May 1913, he had been hired by Mr Young, a dairy farmer, of Acklington, Northumberland, and by August 1913 David was employed as a fireman by the Ashington Coal Company and was residing at 63 Pont Street, Hirst, Ashington in the house of Mrs Hughes. It would seem at some stage he left the colliery and was advised by the Superintendent to return to work but then started work as an apprentice Cabinet Maker for a Simon Sadopsky.

devonshire regiment cap badgeBy the end of August 1914 he had volunteered and joined the Army. We know this as the school received a letter from his mother, Eva, to say that he had joined the 2nd Devonshire Regiment and was based in Plymouth. Private No. 6943 ‘D’ Company of British Expeditionary Force.

A further letter was received by the school from his mother who wrote again on 12th January 1915 to advise the school that David had been ‘Killed in Action’ on 17th December 1914 at Wulverghim, France. Eva wrote again on 6th March sending the school a photograph of David. Unfortunately, this has not survived. Wouldn’t it be great if one day a picture of David is found and we can put a face to this interesting story?
David is commemorated on the Menin Gate, Ypres, Belgium, indicating that in a note on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website – Eckstein Pte. David 3/6943 of 1st Battalion Devonshire Regiment was ‘Killed in Action’ 17th Dec. 1914 age 21. The son of Mrs Eva Moss (formerly Eckstein) of 13 Providence Place, Aldgate, London.
There are no service or pension papers on Ancestry, but we did find his Medal Index Card which confirms the information we know above. He only arrived in France on 3rd December 1914 and was killed 14 days later. He was awarded the War & Victory medals as well as the 1915 Star.
We were also able to find an article in the Morpeth Herald Newspaper relating to David in the edition of Friday 26th September 1913 –
Stolen potatoes – David Eckstein, Fireman of Pont Street & Fred Bell, Ash-Wheeler of Poplar Street were charged with having stolen potatoes to the value of 6d each the property of Thomas Stamp of Dene House Farm, Ellington on 9th Sept.
P.C. Jones said he was at Ellington Colliery when he saw both of them in a potato field and watched them for some time. They came over the railings and he stopped them. They had a hatful of potatoes each. He asked them what they were going to do with them and they replied ‘We are going to roast them for our supper’
They were fined 5/-each.
We know so much background information about the boys who attended the Reformatory; their lives before and during their stay, but we do not have any photographs in the collection, which are named. Wouldn’t it be great if some day we found photographs of the boys named on the Roll Of Honour so we can put a face to a name!
By Paul Ternent Volunteer Manager for Northumberland At War.

Osteomyelitis Part 2: Dactylitis

Continuing on from our last post on osteomyelitis affecting the lower leg bones, see post dating 06/02/2015, here we are going to review a case of tuberculous osteomyelitis of the short tubular bones in the hands and feet; the metacarpals, metatarsals and phalanges,  commonly known as tuberculous dactylitis or ‘spina ventosa’(meaning short or small bone inflated with air). This is a particularly uncommon manifestation of tuberculosis primarily affecting children, and it is rare in anyone over the age of six.

Dactylitis affects the hands more often than the feet and can affect multiple bones at one time. It is caused by the haematogenous spread of tubercular bacteria which settles in the bone marrow of the short bones prior to the epiphyseal centre becoming established. This leads to thickening of the periosteum (outer membrane of the bone) with osteomyelitis, but rarely involves the joint.


Patient 90/27

This patient was a 16 year old male, admitted to Stannington Sanatorium in September 1940 with tuberculosis of the bones and joints, stage II. In this instance tuberculous dactylitis was diagnosed affecting the left foot and right hand, alongside queried primary infection in the lungs and concerns over the right elbow.

The patient’s medical history states that seven months prior to his admission the patient’s left ankle became swollen and started discharging; his 4th left toe became swollen and started discharging and 1 year prior to admission his right hand was hurt and it too became swollen.

Initial observations made by admitting doctors read as follows:

‘Left foot sinus over lateral malleolus,

swelling over 4th toe left foot, discharging sinus at  base,

right hand hard swelling of 5th metacarpal’


Diagnosis of dactylitis is made based on radiographic findings; however, it is often observable physically due to painless inflammation of the soft tissue surrounding the affected bone. As noted above sinuses may also form, which may discharge, as a result of infection. Although we have no photographic images of patient 90/27, we do have a photograph of another patient (for whom we have no radiographs) also diagnosed with tuberculous dactylitis showing the effects this infection had on the surrounding soft tissue, note the presence of a discharging sinus at the base of the first finger on the left hand, Figure 1.

FIGURE 1: HOSP-STAN-07-01-01-361_06

FIGURE 1: HOSP-STAN-07-01-01-361_06


The first x-ray report for patient 90/27 was in October 1940 and confirmed that the phalange of the fourth toe of the left foot was expanded but without any signs of a cavity; the fibula showed signed of decalcification; fibrosis was detected in the lungs, possibly the primary source of the tubercular infection, and the fifth metacarpal of the right hand was badly affected, Figure 2.


FIGURE 2: HOSP-STAN-07-01-02-641_07

FIGURE 2: HOSP-STAN-07-01-02-641_07

Once established, the tuberculous infection quickly involves the entire marrow space and the tuberculous granulation tissue expands the bone cortex following necrosis of the bone tissue. As a result the bone expands taking on a spindle form and appears much like an inflated balloon. This is well demonstrated in Figure 2, with the balloon like inflammation in the distal metacarpal. It is common to see new bone formation, or periostitis, as a result of the infection. Soft Tissue swelling can also be seen surrounded the affected metacarpal in Figure 2.


FIGURE 3: HOSP-STAN-07-01-02-641_11

FIGURE 3: HOSP-STAN-07-01-02-641_11

Throughout the patient’s notes, specific areas of infection are focussed upon. In April 1941 the x-ray report notes look at the fourth toe of the left foot, Figure 3. Here the proximal phalanx is noticeably expanded and the notes state that the cavity looks as though it has been filled in with granular tissue. By February 1942 the disease has taken over the whole of the phalanx and a cavity is noted in the distal end of the bone.

There is nothing within the patient notes about any specific treatment this patient was receiving for his condition. Given the nature of the infection and the continuous references to ulcers and sinuses that were discharging it is likely these would have been drained regularly as part of the general sanatorium treatment, alongside rest and fresh air. There is one side note within the notes that questions excision of toe, however this is not pursued anywhere else.

FIGURE 4: HOSP-STAN-07-01-02-641_05

FIGURE 4: HOSP-STAN-07-01-02-641_05


With tuberculous dactylitis, it is possible to achieve almost complete recovery. New bone formation around the affected bone is noted, but soft tissue swelling abates and deformity is rare, Figure 4. In April 1942 this patient’s notes read:

‘Nil active in lungs.

Foot: cavity in bone of 4th phalanx filled up. Quiescent.

Hand: metacarpal improving’


This patient was later discharged in May 1942 as ‘improved.’


Further radiographic images can be seen on the Stannington Sanatorium ‘Radiographs from Stannington’ Flickr stream



Bhaskar, Khongla, T and Bareh, J (2013). Tuberculous dactylitis (spina ventosa) with concomitant ipsilateral axillary scrofuloderma in an immunocompetent child: A rare presentation of skeletal tuberculosis. Advanced Biomedical Research 2:29

Mishra Gyanshankar, P, Dhamgaye, T.M.  and Fuladi Amol, B (2009). Spina VentosaDischarging Tubercle Bacilli – A Case Report. Indian Journal of Tuberculosis 56: 100-103

Roberts, C and Buikstra, J (2003). The Bioarchaeology of Tuberculosis: A Global View on Reemerging Disease. Univesity Press of Florida.

This Week in World War One, 26th March 1915


Berwick Advertiser title 1915

26th March 1915




Sir,-One of the saddest sights was to be witnessed on Sunday last in the “Stanks” where some of our countries defenders thought so little of the Sabbath Day as to play football, aye, and that at almost a stone’s throw from the doors of several churches. To say the least, it is bad grace, and if the soldiers cannot keep the Sabbath Day holy they ought at any rate be taught to keep it respectable. I know there is a great difference of opinion on this question, but to my mind the old proverb “a Sunday well spent brings a week of content,” is a good thing to follow and I would heartily commend it to Sunday footballers, in fact to all who make the Sabbath a day of pleasure. If there was any necessity for using the Sabbath Day for football it would only be so because the soldiers were kept at drill, marching, and guarding during the whole of the other six days of the week, but this is not the case, for they appear to have plenty of leisure if one might judge by seeing the numbers who parade the streets.

Yours etc.


The Stanks seen from Brass Bastion

The Stanks, the area is still used as a football pitch today. Ref: BRO 1639/9/19


Severe Snowstorm

North Easterly Gale

Traffic Disorganised

Rigorous Condition for Hill Flocks

After a spell of spring weather there was a sharp change to conditions of an extremely wintry character. The snowfall that began in some districts on Wednesday became general over the greater part of Scotland during Thursday. In the early hours of Friday morning, and in some districts during the day also, large quantities of snow fell. With a violent north easterly gale, the powdery snow was swirled in dense, blinding clouds, and blown into deep wreaths, with the result that throughout the country there was serious disorganisation of railway traffic, while highways were blocked, and the conditions are such as to cause some anxiety to hill flocks.


A severe snowstorm from the east swept over Berwick and Border district on Thursday. Much damage was done to telegraph wires, which in some parts of the town were hanging down into the street. Outdoor work in the town and district was almost entirely suspended. The storm was the worst experienced in Berwick for about five years, the last to which it is comparable having occurred in a Christmas week, when for two whole days Berwick was entirely isolated. There was a good deal of dislocation of the public services. Blocks were common on most of the railways that were in any way exposed. Snow ploughs were busy all over the North British system, and within a few hours most of the blocks were removed; but on the main lines there was severe drifting…

…The most serious results of the storm, so far as communications were concerned, were with regard to telegraphs and telephones, the Post Office having no outlet for messages for several hours. Telegraph wires were blown down in many parts of the town. At Berwick Station a telegraph pole was blown down and the wires had to be cut to enable it to be lifted. Several other poles in and around the town were leaning over at dangerous angles and, generally, telegraph work was greatly interfered with.

Country postmen had a terrible task, and some were unable to complete their journeys. The motor cycle post to Ford was also cut off, but the delivery was attempted by trap. Country roads were badly blocked. On the Letham Road and the “Glaury Loaning,” for instance, snow was lying in large drifts right across the roads level with the tops of the hedges. Flock-masters on the more exposed parts of the Corporation Estate had a very anxious time, having to dig out their lambs from drifts several feet in depth. A curious result of the snowstorm was that Berwick Town Clock became snow blocked on the east side and stopped at 8:30 – it was not cleared and put right until a minute before noon. A very heavy sea was running on the Berwickshire coast, and near the mouth of the Tweed it was only with great difficulty that salmon fishing was carried on. Practically the same conditions were prevailing on Friday morning, there having been a heavy fall of snow on Thursday night and during the early hours of the morning.


Advert for W. A. Johnston & Sons

Advert for W. A. Johston & Sons from the Berwick Advertiser 26th March 1915

Surgical Procedures – Curettage & Skin Graft

The second in our series of posts on some of the surgical procedures carried out at Stannington focuses on the use of curettage and a skin graft to treat tuberculous skin infections.


Patient 84/37 was male and aged 13 ½ when he was admitted to Stannington on 16th December 1938 diagnosed with TB of other organs and an old ankylosed ankle joint.  He had previously been in the sanatorium from June 1936 to July 1938 suffering from TB of the right ankle which had healed but since his discharge in July 1938 he had developed a tuberculous skin infection on his right ankle overlaying the original tuberculous focus.  This sort of infection might be referred to today as scrofuloderma where there is a direct extension of the tuberculous disease from underlying structures, such as the bone, to the skin.  A report on his condition on admittance reads as follows:


Large sinus R ankle, healed, but skin lower part reddened & thin & scabbed.  Healed sinus R knee & 3 healed on thigh and 1 on leg.  Mobility good’



Figure 2 – HOSP/STAN/7/1/2/296_07


Figure 1 – HOSP/STAN/7/1/2/296_04











Radiographs taken of his right ankle during his second stay in the sanatorium show the tuberculous ankle to be healed and therefore not causing medical staff any great concern.  Figure 1 is a radiograph taken in1939 for which the report reads, ‘no bone lesion in the right foot’, and figure 2 was taken in 1940 with the report stating that there are ‘bony ankyloses of ankle joint’.


Throughout his stay comments in his case file reveal the scar on his ankle to be thin, unsound and broken down.  Given that at this time there were no antibiotics available to treat this skin infection a commonly used minor surgical procedure was opted for.  On 9th August 1940 curettage was performed on an area on the lateral side of the right ankle with a Thiersch skin graft.  Curettage simply refers to the removal of the infected tissue using a surgical tool called a curette.  A Thiersch skin graft is a split-thickness graft that can be quite thin and involves the removal of the epidermis and part of the dermis from a donor site elsewhere on the patient’s body, which can then be placed in narrow strips over the wound.  By November of 1940 it was noted that the skin graft had taken well, was soundly healed, and that there was good movement of the foot at the 1st metatarsal joint.  He was discharged quiescent on 19th November 1940 with the procedure having been a success.



B. Kumar and S. Dogra, ‘Cutaneous Tuberculosis’, in Skin Infecitons: Diagnoisis and Treatment, Edited by J. C. Hall and B. J. Hall (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009)

L. Teot, P. E. Banwell, & U. E. Ziegler, Surgery in Wounds, (Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 2004)

Safe Milk Supplies

We touched upon the problems of infected milk supplies in a previous posting on abdominal TB and we’ll focus on the issue in more detail here.  Mycobacterium bovis is the pathogen responsible for the development of TB in cattle, which is commonly referred to as bovine TB.  The consumption of milk from cows infected with bovine TB and in turn the ingestion of mycobacterium bovis can lead to an individual developing TB.  This was for many years a very common cause of TB in humans and remains so in countries that do not routinely pasteurise milk.  Pasteurisation involves the heating of the milk in such a way as to kill off any bacteria that might be present, and through its use the spread of bovine TB to humans has nearly been eradicated in the UK.


The 1875 Public Health Act made it compulsory for local authorities to appoint a Medical Officer of Health (MoH) who produced an annual report detailing any health and sanitary issues in the district as well as giving a wealth of statistical information related to birth and death rates, population, infectious diseases and causes of death.  The MoH for Northumberland makes regular reports on the situation in the county regarding tuberculosis including comments on the causes of abdominal tuberculosis and efforts made to prevent its spread.  In the 1906 report he states:

“That about 30 per cent of the milch cows in England are tuberculous, and that consequently infants and persons suffering dangerous illness are in many cases being fed milk containing the organisms of tuberculosis” [NRO 3897/3, 1906 p.21]

The problem of infected animal products is clearly recognised by medical and sanitary officials early on in the 20th century but little is done to tackle the situation head on and so abdominal tuberculosis continues to be a significant problem.  Three years later in 1909 the MoH expresses his frustration at the situation and lack of power to change it:

“The elimination of tuberculosis from dairy herds is a matter of great difficulty since, at present, no assistance is given, by the state, to the farmer who, for the benefit of the general public as well as for his own advantage, may wish to obtain a herd free from this disease.”  [NRO 3897/3, 1909 p.33]

It is not until the 1940s that significant steps were taken to introduce tuberculin tested milk and encourage pasteurization.

“The eradication of tuberculosis from our milk supplies is a matter of greatest importance to us all, and it is encouraging to note the marked increase in the production of milk from tuberculin tested cows.  45% of all the milk produced in the County was from such herds, and it is known that in 1948 the proportion had risen to more than 50%.” [NRO 4081/1, 1947 p.8]


HOSP/STAN/11/1/51 Boys at work on the farm

Boys at work on the farm


Milk supplies were something given great consideration by those responsible for the establishment of Stannington Sanatorium from the outset.  In 1905, two years before the official opening of the sanatorium, a farm colony was established on the site to take in young boys and provide them with training.  It was from here that the sanatorium was able to receive a safe supply of milk from tuberculin tested cows.  Tuberculin testing is another method used in preventing the spread of bovine TB whereby the cows were tested to see whether they carried mycobacterium bovis rather than treating the milk itself.  This method was used quite commonly early on before the onset of widespread pasteurisation and would have been essential to the recovery of many of the patients and in preventing any of them acquiring any further infection.  As time goes on, and tuberculin testing and pasteurisation is implemented more widely across the county, it is notable when looking at the patient files that instances of abdominal TB decrease particularly as we enter the 1950s.



ALLISON, T. M. (1908) Children’s Sanatorium, Stannington, Northumberland, British Journal of Tuberculosis, 2 (3), p.204

SCHOFIELD, P. F. (1985) Abdominal Tuberculosis, Gut, 26 (12), pp.1275-1278

NORTHUMBERLAND ARCHIVES: NRO 03897, Northumberland County Council: County Medical Officer of Health Reports, 1893-1935

NORTHUMBERLAND ARCHIVES: NRO 04081, Northumberland Health Authority: Records, 1942-1970

This Week In World War One, 19th March 1915

Berwick Advertiser title 1915

19th March 1915

Berwick Soldier’s Lucky Escape

Writing from the front to his sister in Berwick on March 7, Private William Storey, 2nd Northumberland Fusiliers, says:

The platoon to which I was attached was holding a small detached trench in a field away from the remainder of the company. We had been in the trench 24 hours, and we only had three bottles of water between about 30 men, so when night came the officer in charge sent six of us out for some water. We had to cross an open field, go through a small wood, and across another open field before we could reach the company, at the end of whose trench ran a small brook.

We got the water all right, but as we got back near the wood again the Germans started sending star-shells up, so we had to lie down. When we thought they had finished we got up again, and just as I got on my feet I got hit on the inside of my right thigh. The bullet hit a button on my great coat. It knocked the top off the button, but I send you the other half as a curio. If it had not hit the button it would have hit me in the stomach, so I was very lucky.

Advert for Campbell & Sons Tailors

Advert for Campbell & Sons Tailors, The Berwick Advertiser 19th March 1915


Military Recreation Rooms Opened in Berwick

Opening Ceremony Performed by The Sheriff


Large numbers of soldiers, representative of the different regiments stationed in the town; together with a good number of the general public, assembled to witness the opening ceremony of the new Recreation Rooms for the Military in Hide Hill, in the premises recently occupied by Messrs Walter Wilson, Ltd, on Monday night.

The spacious rooms of the building have been excellently fitted out and will prove of inestimable use to the troops stationed here. The front room on the ground floor has been partitioned off into two departments, and is to be used as a writing room. Tables are plentifully scattered around the rooms, and all facilities for writing are provided. A letter box has been erected where letters, etc. can be posted, and this will be cleared at suitable hours.

At the rear is another large hall, which is to be used as a reading and smoking room. This will also be used as a concert hall, and here a piano has been installed. The wants of the inner man are provided on the first floor upstairs, where an excellent refreshment bar has been installed. The games room is found in the third storey, and judging by the way it was patronised on the opening night, it will be well made use of.

Shop, Hide Hill

14 Hide Hill, seen here as Hardy & Co in 1959 , was converted into Military Recreation Rooms in 1915. Ref: BRO 1250/117


The opening ceremony was held in the Concert Hall, which was filled to overflowing. The Mayor (Mr Thomas Wilson) presided, and he was supported by the Sheriff (Mr E. W. Stiles) and Colonel Peterkin, 10th Royal Scots. Other officers of the 10th Royal Scots present were:- Major Dudgeon, Captain Forbes, Captain Laing, Lieutenant Wolfe, Lieutenant McLeod, and Sergeant-Major Dawes.

The proceedings opened with the singing of the National Anthem.

The Mayor-Before asking the Sheriff to formally open this club room, I wish to publicly acknowledge our debt of gratitude to the owner of these buildings, who has given them at very small rental, and has made it possible for us to have such a splendid place with the accommodation there is. (Applause). Unfortunately, through illness, he is unable to be present, but I I am sure we all trust he will be restored to health and strength to come here and see what has been done through his kindness, not only to you but to the committee in making it possible to give you this accommodation. I have much pleasure in calling upon the Sheriff to open the club rooms. (Applause).


The Sheriff said-Mr Mayor, Colonel Peterkin and gentlemen, may I in the first place, on creation of the Committee responsible for the creation of this recreation resort, offer to every member of His Majesty’s Forces a most hearty welcome on their first visit to these premises. (Loud applause). So long as you are in our midst the Committee earnestly hope you will take every advantage possible of these rooms. It is intended to keep the rooms open every evening. Including Sunday, from 6 o’clock to 9.45. The Ladies Committee has kindly arranged to entirely take charge of the refreshment department, and they will carry out their duties every evening from eight o’clock until closing time, and there you can obtain refreshments for a very reasonable charge. I think you will prefer to pay something for it and it has been communicated that you would. We hope therefore, that you will make some little acknowledgement towards the expenses of maintaining the establishment. (Applause). I hope you will be able to make good use of these premises which the Committee have at considerable difficulty put into the excellent condition as we see them now, and I hope before you leave the town they will have been of material help to you in you hours of leisure. It is intended to hold concerts occasionally, and I trust the different regiments in the town will take one night each to be responsible for a concert, and the town’s people will also do their best to provide a concert in their turn. (Applause). I have much pleasure in declaring these premises open and support the debt of gratitude we owe to the donors of the premises. (Applause).

14 HIde Hill, Berwick

The building on Hide Hill which was adapted for use as Military Recreation Rooms in 1915. Prior to that the building was occupied by Walter Wilson Ltd. © Copyright N Chadwick and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Colonel Peterkin, in making a few remarks, said;-Mr Mayor, Mr Sheriff and gentlemen-I do not think it is easy for me to properly and adequately express the debt of gratitude the whole of the regiment feel they owe to the people of Berwick….

….All this kindness, I am afraid, that we are having here is very bad training for the trenches. (Laughter). However, it is best to wait until trouble comes before meeting half way, and I do not think we can acknowledge these kindnesses better than making use of these spacious rooms. (Applause). I ask you to give a hearty vote of thanks to the Committee and to the Mayor and Sheriff who are the moving factors in this movement. (Applause).

A smoking concert was afterwards held, when an excellent programme was submitted. In the course of the evening the soldiers were the guests of the Ladies Committee, and refreshments were provided free.

Patient 90/38, An Unconfirmed Diagnosis

Amongst the patients admitted to Stannington Sanatorium there are a number for which following admission doctors decide that their condition for whatever reason is non-tuberculous.  Differential diagnoses can vary from bronchiectasis and asthma in those suspected of having pulmonary TB to Perthes’ Disease in those suspected of having TB of the hip.  One patient who ultimately appears not to have TB is patient 90/38, a 17 ½ year old girl presenting with strong neurological symptoms, although no definite conclusions seem to be drawn on what the cause might be.


Admitted on 12 Sept 1941, she is one of the very few private patients and also one of the oldest.  The diagnosis given at the top of her file is ‘Non-TB, query bone tumour spine and skull’.  She had been suffering from symptoms for a year prior to admission and reports immediately following admission state ‘Lower thoracic curvature, no active angular deformity.  Not tuberculous’.


The first x-rays of her spine are taken the day after admission and here the report reads:

Marked irregularity of epiphyses in lower thoracic region.  Some wedging of bodies of 9th and 10th dorsal vertebrae.  Edges of bone are irregular & ossification is either incomplete or of poor quality.

                Diagnosis: Epiphysitis of thoracic region, probably not tubercular

Over the coming months further spinal x-rays and their corresponding reports do not suggest any significant worsening of the spinal wedging nor any great improvements.  The final report indicates that 5 vertebrae are affected with the 9th and 10th being the worst.  Figures 1 and 2 are examples of some of the spinal x-rays that were taken.



Figure 1 – HOSP/STAN/7/1/2/651_25


Figure 2 – HOSP/STAN/7/1/2/651_03













In addition, x-rays were taken of her arms, forearms, pelvis, femora, and legs, all of which were clear.  There are also 7 x-rays taken of the skull, 4 of which can be seen in figures 3-6. Reports on the skull x-rays read as follows:

9/12/1941: Skull, localised deficiency of internal table to left of midline – lying over leg area.

19/3/1942: Outline of internal table broken for about 1” in anterior-parietal region. 

14/5/1942:  Rarefaction appears to be falling in.  Outline more normal.  Break still about 1”. 

Figure 3 - HOSP/STAN/7/1/2/651_23

Figure 3 – HOSP/STAN/7/1/2/651_23

Figure 4 - HOSP/STAN/7/1/2/651_14

Figure 4 – HOSP/STAN/7/1/2/651_14







Figure 5 - HOSP/STAN/7/1/2/651_21

Figure 5 – HOSP/STAN/7/1/2/651_21


Figure 6 - HOSP/STAN/7/1/2/651_04

Figure 6 – HOSP/STAN/7/1/2/651_04












Her file also contains quite detailed reports on other tests carried out and her general condition during her stay.  In November 1941 reports are made of signs of mental disturbance and that she ‘will not speak to anyone and only laughs or cries when spoken to’.  She is also experiencing some incontinence and has a history of incontinence between the ages of 8 and 14.  She has bilateral ankle clonus and a positive Babinski test, more marked on the right.  Two days later the report reads as follows:

Spasticity lower limbs.  KJs +.  Bilateral ankle clonus.  Plantar Reflex? – probably flexor.  Sensation apparently normal.  Pupils reacting normally.  Eye movements, other cranial nerves & field of vision-apparently normal but patient unresponsive & difficult to examine.

She says she feels miserable & that everyone thinks she is silly, & that she has been like this before.

Still some incontinence.


At the end of November 1941 it is noted that there is a white patch in the centre of the optic discs and that the disc edges are blurred, still some spasticity, slight clonus, sluggish Babinski, normal co-ordination, normal mental condition, and occasionally experiences some frontal headaches.  In March of 1942 a Wassermann Test comes back negative and she is eventually discharged on 16th May 1942.

If anyone can offer any further opinions on the possible causes of her condition please feel free to add your comments below.

This Week in World War One, 12th March 1915


Berwick Advertiser title 1915

12th March 1915



During the hiring week special efforts were made to enlist recruits for the Army from amongst the farm labourers. Taken all over the results were far from satisfactory. Various reasons have been assigned for the failure of the farm servants to come forward to help their country.

One of these was the alleged coercion on the part of the farmers and we believe that to an extent that allegation was true. The real reason for the holding back of the hands is indifference or else inability to comprehend the urgency of the need for men. A walk through the crowd at Berwick on Saturday proved this to the hilt. The manner in which the advances of the recruiting sergeants were met was sufficient to show that the average farm labourer has no intention of enlisting. In fact, a goodly number were inclined to indulge in cheap witticisms at the expense of the recruiting officers.

It was stated recently that there are 80 farms in Berwickshire from which not a single man has gone to join the Army. A preeminent agriculturalist on the other side of the Tweed assures us that in North Northumberland there are twice as many farms about which the same discreditable tale may be told. The gentleman referred to offered his men their situations back when the war was over and gave them every inducement to enlist but no: “There are plenty of men without us.” Was the invariable response. Another farmer told his men he expected them to go but they declined and he went himself. On the other hand there are farmers with several able bodied sons none of whom has taken up arms.

Thus it is evident that there are faults on both sides but Saturday’s market made it clear that if coercion has kept back a certain number the vast majority are holding back through sheer indifference.

Advert for James Park

Advert for the final day of James Park’s sale from the Berwick Advertiser, 5th March 1915




Despite the fact that the country is at present plunged in the biggest struggle it has ever witnessed, the hiring’s at Berwick on Saturday were much the same as in former years, with the exception that there was a slight falling off in the number of people who visit the town on such an occasion as this.

March Hiring notice in the Berwick Advertiser

Notice giving the location for the March Hirings from the Berwick Advertiser 26th February 1915

Like many other hiring markets, Berwick Hiring’s are largely such in name only, and this was exemplified by the small amount of hiring which was entered into on Saturday. As usual, those from the English side took their stand in Sandgate, and the Scottish market was held at the Scotsgate. There was a demand for considerably increased wages, but for the most part the servants were beaten down, although, generally, wages had a slightly upward tendency. On the south side of the Tweed single men engaged at 20s to 21s. On the north side single men got to 20s and 21s if they were able to supply a woman worker. For the hill districts the wage was the highest in the market, and for single men from 22s to 23s was given.

Recruiting sergeants were busy in the streets and a fair number of recruits were obtained. To help recruiting the pipe band of the 10th Royal Scots paraded the principal streets during the afternoon, and perhaps it was the call of the pibroch which attracted the men from the hills and glens, and caused them to rally to the flag.

A son of the plough, who has been appointed organiser of the Ploughmans’ Union from Scotland’s “granite city” was in the south market agitating for an increase of wages. With a fairly large crowd round him, he urged the men to make a demand for a living wage of 24s per week, a ten hours’ day, and a weekly half-holiday. Evidently the thought of such an earthly Paradise was not alluring enough to call for a feeble “hear, hear.” But when in scathing accents he told them not to be beasts of burden all their days, a perceptible smile ran round the faces of the men. Probably it was because they were a well-contented looking lot of persons that it struck them as humorous to be classed as beasts of burden. Of course, such a phrase is a pet one for the organisers and as it failed to forcibly strike the audience the speaker turned to other matters. His appeal to them to unite to demand a better and higher wage with all the etceteras did not evoke much enthusiasm.

Waterloo Hotel Advert

Advert for the Waterloo Hotel, High Street from the Berwick Advertiser, 5th March 1915

A number of peripatetic merchants took their stand in High Street, where they appeared to do a roaring trade. The “jewellers” with loud hammerings on a wooden box poured out with vivid descriptions of the high-class goods – all made in England (?) – and then gave them away merely to advertise their firm…

…Only one of the type who sell 7s 6d for half a crown appeared in the market this year but he has been a regular visitor here, and it was perhaps that a number of his audience had in former years received 2d and a brass chain for their half crown that caused the vendors business to be dull.

Owing to huts for the military having been erected on the Parade there was not much room for the “shows” and there was a smaller number than in former years… …A new game made its appearance, and it was quite a money-making concern-occasionally. With five rings for two pence one tried to ring silver money from threepenny pieces to halfcrowns, but the rings were very light and when aim was taken the rings were in the habit of going everywhere except the object at which they were aimed. The owner of the stall, of course, made more than was won. Shooting booths and cocoanut shies were freely patronised and the fun of the fair was quite as high as ever.

Unfortunately, through lack of space, the organs on the roundabouts were in close proximity and the result was not pleasing to the musical ear. However, as the hour of twelve approached “God Save the King” was switched on and the smallest organ won by a short neck – so ended the 1915 March Hiring. It was rather uncomfortable for the Royal Scots who had to sleep in the huts next the organs where they retired at 9:30. It is not recorded whether or not they got out of bed to stand to attention when the National Anthem was played!

Advert for Renton's

Advert for Renton’s from the Berwick Advertiser, 12th March 1915

Tuberculous-Arthritis of the Knee

Tuberculosis of the bones and joints affected several key areas of the body, and is well documented amongst the Stannington records. Of these the knee is one of the more frequently noted areas of infection. Immobilisation by plaster cast was the most common form of treatment for this type of tuberculosis, although some more severe cases were put forward for surgical intervention.

Tuberculous arthritis characteristically affects only one joint, predominantly a weight-bearing joint such as the spine, hip or knee. It is transferred by haematogenous spread from a location of primary infection, most commonly the lungs. Initial symptoms often include synovitis or inflammation of the soft tissue in addition to joint effusion, where there is an increase in the fluid within the joint. These preliminary symptoms progress into arthritis over a period of time, although radiographic findings only begin to occur after three or four weeks. Ultimately, untreated tuberculous arthritis will lead to demineralisation, erosion and joint destruction.

Case Study














Patient 358/1946 was admitted to Stannington Sanatorium in October 1946 with tuberculous arthritis of the left knee. The patient notes detail that on admittance there was radiographic evidence of destructive lesions already identifiable, however, the first radiographs taken of the individual are of poor exposure or whilst the individual was in plaster cast, so identification is challenging.

The radiographs from February 1947 show the bony anomalies to the knee joint clearly. There is a significant reduction in joint space between the femur and the tibia. The distal epiphysis of the femur shows severe displacement, having moved towards the posterior. Similar displacement can be seen on the proximal tibia to a slightly lesser degree. The patient notes at this stage indicate no change from time of admittance that two sinuses were present above the patella and that immobilisation of the knee was to continue.


















In August 1947, an examination by the visiting physician describes: 

‘Complete disorganisation of the joint. Less decalcification and bony trabeculae are beginning to show.

Fusion of the joint is not complete and there is still some heat.

To be put in plaster for three months’

Changes in the radiographic images between February 1947 and June 1948, when the patient is discharged, are minimal. In December 1947 the physician stated in the patient’s notes:

‘No change in appearance.

There is not complete bony ankyloses of the knee but movement is negligible.

A sinus on the front of the knee which is covered by a scab, is not at present discharging’

There is little or no heat in the knee.

For Thomas’ walking knee splint, patton and crutches.’

No further changes were noted at this stage with the radiographic image below, dated to December 1947, revealing gross anatomical destruction of the knee joint to have taken place and there is no remaining joint space. The striation pattern across the epiphysis and metaphysis of both the femur and tibia is likely to be the result of cartilage destruction and bone degeneration causing porosity in the bones.




Patient 358/1946 was discharged in June 1948 but according to their patient notes returned twice as an out-patient and was seen a further two times at the Sanderson Orthopaedic Hospital, Gosforth.


For a case study on the surgical interventions used in tuberculosis of the hip, see earlier post of 08/12/2014

Further radiographic images can be seen on Flickr at



Albuquerque-Jonathan, G (2006). Atypical tuberculosis of the knee joint. South African Journal of Radiology p.28.

Arthanari, S; Yusuf, S and Nisar, M (2008). Tuberculosis of the Knee Complicating Seronegative Arthritis. Journal of Rheumatology:

Captain Charles Noel Ridley – Northumberland Yeomanry – Died of Wounds 1915

Last week we posted a short article about the Ridley family of Park End, Tynedale. Today we will provide some further more information regarding the death of Captain Charles Noel Ridley of the Northumberland Yeomanry,

Charles Noel Ridley married Daphne Bewick in the September Quarter of 1907. By the 1911 census the couple had two daughters Nancy Daphne Ridley aged 2 years and Phyllis Evelyn Ridley who was just 3 months old. At this time the family were living at High Parkanse, Simonburn. Charles was recorded as living on ‘Private Means.’

Charles died of wounds received on 7th October 1915 and is referred to in ‘The History of the Northumberland (Hussars) Yeomanry, 1819 – 1919 with Supplement to 1923’ Edited by Howard Pease M.A., F.S.A. Printed by Constable & Co. Ltd. London 1924. On page 114 of the volume there is the following reference:

September 30th [1915] – Most unfortunately Captain C.N. Ridley was killed, and about fourteen other ranks were wounded, whilst burying about forty men just behind “Gun Trench”.

image of CN Ridley

This image shows Lieut. C N. Ridley is in the back row 2nd from the left. The image was taken at Blagdon Camp, Northumberland – 1913.


Charles Noel Ridley’s Medal Index Card is available to view on This record details that the Regimental Roll shows his ‘Disembarkation Date’ as 5th October 1914. He was killed just a year later on 7th October 1915. His medals were dispatched to Mrs D. Pringle of Doonbrae, Alloway, Ayr, on 20th May 1921.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission confirms that Captain Ridley is buried at Lonuenesse (St Omer) Souvenir Cemetery, France. He was noted as the husband of Daphne Pringle (formerly Ridley), of Knorren, Brampton, Cumberland.

Following Charles Noel’s death Daphne re-married [December Quarter 1918] to Hall G Pringle. A search of the 1911 records that Hall was a Captain in the Royal Artillery aged 34 living in the Royal Military Academy, London Road, Camberley. I could not find Hall on any earlier census except 1881, where I found him living with his family in Cleethaugh, Edgerston, Roxburghshire. His father was David Pringle a Farmer of 6000 acres. Records of Hall Grant Pringle can be found on the internet for example he received the Military Order of Avis 2nd Class from the President of the Portuguese Republic on 10 October 1918, by this time he was known as Lieutenant Colonel Hall Grant, Royal Artillery, D.S.O. [Supplement to London Gazette]. He was also mentioned on 21 March 1896 as a Cadet of The Royal Military Academy promoted to 2nd Lieutenant [London Gazette]. A picture of him can be viewed on whilst he was serving in Peking, China 1900/1901.

This post was prepared by Paul Ternent, Northumberland At War Volunteer Manager.