Archive for July 2015

End of the Stannington Sanatorium Project




The Stannington Project has been running for the past year but will be coming to an end this week.  Over the course of the year we have catalogued all the patient files and the associated administrative files from the sanatorium.  We now know that there are 5041 individual patient files and 14,671 corresponding radiographic images.  Now that they have all been fully catalogued it is very easy for us to locate files and match them up to their associated radiographs, this is particularly important when dealing with requests from former patients who want to see their own files.  The level of detail included in the listing of patient files makes it a useful resource for academic research and allows for the easy selection of relevant cases. Another major part of the project has been the digitisation of all the radiographs and early case files, which is now complete, and discussed in more detail in our previous blog post.  The full catalogue and the attached images can all be viewed through the Archive’s online catalogue at


Working through the records over the past year we’ve learnt a lot about how TB affected children in the mid-20th century and some of the individual stories have been fascinating.  We hope everyone’s enjoyed reading our blog posts as much as we’ve enjoyed writing them, and keep a look-out for future updates on Stannington and more posts from the WWI Project.


Thank you for reading!

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This Week in World War One, 30 July 1915

Berwick Advertiser title 1915







The restriction on East Coast shipping are being more forcibly impressed upon the ratepayers of our own immediate district by the short discussion which occurred at the Berwick Town Council meeting on Tuesday evening. The inability of the local Harbour Commissioners to meet the interest on a by no means large bond is sufficient testimony to the decline in shipping during the past year at the port of Berwick. It was a state of matters which no one contemplated this time last year, and it is satisfactory to learn, despite the intense difficulties placed on shipping and fishing, the trade at the harbour shows a tendancy to revive these last few weeks. There is no doubt whatever that with the advent of normal times activities at the harbour will resume their natural condition, and that the interest, temporarily advanced by the Town Council as guarantors to the bond, will be duly refunded. In the unusual circumstances the Town Council had no alternative but to meet the payment of the interest, and there is no reason why there should be any feeling in the community over what is only a very small item emanating out of the war. The appeal made by Alderman Short to regard the discussion as private might very well have seriously occurred to the Council earlier. Had the Council been unanimous in Committee, as they were to all extents and purposes in public, the whole matter could have been quite easily adjusted. In these strenuous days when every encouraging little item is faithfully served up to the reading public of the enemy on the other side of the  North Sea, the less said about decadent sea ports on the east Coast the better. It is a line of action which would have undoubtedly met with the approval of the naval and military authorities who keep a very strict censor on items of such a nature. It may occur to the Council of Borough on the East Coast that there are other things quite as essential to safeguard as bright lights. A spoken word, and an admission on the part of a responsible body such as a Town Council that one of the ports is in a temporary insolvent condition is a grave enough concession indeed, and, garnished and magnified by Tuetonic ingenuity, it can be translated into language out of all proportion to the actual facts. But there is no use lamenting over spilt milk, though it may, and certainly ought to be, a warning to responsible authorities to exercise every degree of care and caution in these eventful days.


Berwick Advertiser 30 July 1915. J Smith Advert

Berwick Advertiser 30 July 1915. J Smith Advert





Belford Church – the church has been enriched by the placing of two finely executed stained glass windows. They are, what is known in architecture, as the early English period, and are lancet in shape. In one window is an illustration of “Charity,” which is depicted by a large figure under richly-coloured canopy work, and standing on an ornamental base, with the following inscription: – “Erected

Belford Church © Copyright Peter Taylor - Creative Commons Licence.

Belford Church © Copyright Peter Taylor – Creative Commons Licence.


by her brother-in-law, the Vicar of Belford, in loving memory of Racheal Smale McLeish, a devoted church worker, who died on December 14th, 1914; aged 58 years.” In the other window is a figure of St. Cecilia in the act of playing an organ, being patron of music, with the following inscription:-“Erected by her father, the Vicar of Belford, in loving memory of his beloved daughter Helen Katharine Ogilvie Robertson, who died on January 11th, 1914, aged 37 years.” The windows were designed and executed by Messrs G. J. Bagnley and Son, artists in stained glass, Newcastle.




Splendid Military Run at Berwick

Thirty-Three Regiments Represented


The military cross-country race at Berwick on Saturday proved an eminently successful gathering, and the commontion and stir it occasioned in the ancient Borough will be an event to be remembered as an outstanding incident in the annals of the Great War. The weather was showery, and, though the ground was heavy underfoot, a more ideal summer afternoon could not have been desired. The thousands of spectators who lined the fine vantage ground on the overlooking Walls, as well as on the more expansive meadow where the race started and finished, were enabled to witness the ceremony under most comfortable atmospheric conditions. A sharp shower fell at the conclusion of the subsequent recruiting meeting, but it was short in duration, and it did not interfere with the pleasure of the spectators in witnessing the completion of a most interesting and finely contested race. No one could but be impressed with the sight of so many hundreds of fine specimens of young

WW1 Gymanastics at Aldershot.

WW1 Gymnastics wearing their competitors costume at Aldershot.

fellows in the perfect bloom of physical strength and manhood, all too, trained in the use of arms, and ready and willing to do their bit whenever the opportunity came. As they marched in gymnastic costume, in perfect swing and unison of step to the captivating strains of the pipe music to take up their allotted positions at the starting point it was a singularly charming spectacle. Not a few of the competitors felt the inspiration of the familiar Highland reels, and gave vent to their itch of foot by indulging in brief spells of a dance. To the thinking spectator there came a pang of intense regret to know of a certainty that so many splendid specimens of athletic manhood would ere many weeks were over have to face the terrible scenes of havoc and bloodshed which are being enacted on the plains of Flanders. The arrangements of the committee in charge were admirable. There was ample convenience for so many competitors dressing and preparing for the race, several large tents having been erected, while the course was well mapped out with flags. The start was given by Colonel Peterkin, and though at the finish there was great excitement and some crushing ample room was allowed to the runners to reach the goal.

The presentation of prizes by Colonel Peterkin in the evening in the Corn Exchange along with tea to the competitors was a scene of much enthusiasm and good hearted fellowship. The memory of the great race, and the stir and bustle it created in the streets will be pleasantly remembered by all the citizens, and the only feeling of regret is that so poor a response was made to the recruiting efforts at so imposing a military display.


Digitisation of Stannington

A major part of the Stannington Sanatorium Project has been to digitise the radiographs held within the collection, along with early case files and the significant amount of photographic material. The digitisation has taken many months, transferring 14,663 microfiche x-ray copies and original x-rays and 949 patient case files into a digital format using a digital SLR camera. These images have subsequently been redacted, removing any identifying information and thus creating completely anonymised digital images.

Digitising radiogrphs from microfiche


Archival digitisation is utilised as a means of protecting original records and preventing further deterioration. Through the creation of a digital surrogate original documents need not be produced as frequently, therefore prevent the risk of further damage to originals caused by regular handling. It also aids in the making of the records more widely accessible. By creating a digital image it is possible to utilise a number of internet resources, including social media, as a means of reaching beyond those who can physically visit the archive. Throughout the Stannington Sanatorium Project we have used a range of social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as making use of widely accessed sites like Flickr to disseminate information covered by the collection.

The Stannington Collection, a collection pertaining to a children’s tuberculosis hospital encompassing both clinical and non-clinical records, is very specific in its own nature. As a result it has generated much interest from many fields of the academic community. Through the production of anonymised digital copies, academics can access records which, without redaction, would otherwise be unavailable under data protection law. This allows the records to be more widely disseminated as a teaching tool; a means for continuing research into tuberculosis and a way of understanding our not so distance past.

With the final stages of the digitisation process nearing completion, we have succeeded in our aims to open up this fascinating collection to those in the local area and beyond, and as a resource for future research. Copies of the images can now be viewed and purchased (if required) from Northumberland Archives electronic catalogue at


To view our Flickr stream follow this link:

This Week in World War One, 23rd July 1915

Berwick Advertiser title 1915






The Headmaster of Spittal Council School (Mr T. W. G. Borthwick) has received the following letter, signed by 54 wounded soldiers who were entertained by the scholars and members of the staff a week ago:-

Improvised Hospitals,


2nd July, 1915

We, the undersigned wounded soldiers from the Expeditionary Force in France, at present quartered in the above hospitals, wish to convey our most sincere thanks to the children of Spittal Council School for the most enthusiastic reception they gave us on Wednesday afternoon, and also to the staff of the School for their kind attention and for the hospitable manner in which they entertained us to tea.

We all enjoyed ourselves immensely and thoroughly appreciate the kindly thoughts which prompted the invitation extended to us.

It is an afternoon we shall all remember with very pleasant thoughts wherever we may be.


Here follow the signatures of 54 soldiers with name of regiment, rank, and number.

This letter will be carefully preserved as a memento of a very pleasant afternoon.

A sum of £1 8s 1d was collected on behalf of the local fund for wounded soldiers.

On Thursday afternoon, July 8th, and in the evening the display of dancing and Swedish drill was repeated.

The boys, cleverly trained by Mr R.C. Clements, gave an additional act of physical exercises, and were very successful with a series of three “pyramids”. The smartness of the boys has been a general subject of conversation, and has won the admiration of experienced soldiers.

Miss Millar, Head Mistress of the Infant Department, desires to be congratulated for the pretty items rendered by her tiny pupils.

This school was the first in the district to give a display of Morris Dancing. In the recent display a new feature was introduced by the girls, who gave a choice selection of “Old English dances.” On all hands the opinion is very favourable towards the inclusion of this branch of physical exercises.

Many of the girls were most graceful dancers; in the “Gavotte”, however, the stately movements were interpreted with unusual skill, and the result was an artistic success. Miss Noble’s large class of girls in their “Scotch Red” caught the patriotic fancy of the large audience (including kilted soldiers), and the item was received with loud applause.

A Morris Dance, the most amusing thing on the programme, was undertaken by the younger boys and girls in charge of Miss Johnson, Miss Dickinson, and Miss Hayden. The boys were dressed in long hats, and from beginning to end, the quaintness of the zest with which the children themselves entered into the spirit of the dance kept the audience in fits of laughter.

Morris Dancing today is still popular with both the young and old. Photograph Ralph Jenson, Creative Commons attribution 2.0 generic license

Morris Dancing today is still popular with both the young and old. © Photograph Ralph Jenson, Creative Commons attribution 2.0 generic license


Miss Borthwick showed unusual ability at the piano; indeed the musical part of the programme was of a high order. This lady also deserves credit for the arranging of the artistic sets of Old English dances and the Gavotte.

The display took place in the school playground, and as the weather was warm and sunny there was a large audience. Seats were provided at a charge of 3d each, and it was gratifying to notice that some of the wounded soldiers had come over from Berwick to see the children again.

The large audience especially the visitors to Spittal was struck with the happy hearing of the scholars, the very pretty dresses of the girls, and the general appearance of neatness and cleanliness of such a large number of school children. The turnout reflects great credit on the mothers of Spittal.

In the afternoon the Rev. A. Alexander, M.A., at the close of the programme, after expressing the thanks of the audience, said that the scholars were not only clever and well trained in physical exercises, but the school had done well in the recent County Scholarship examination. Eight boys in the borough were successful, and of these the 1st, 2nd and 5th places in order of merit fell to Spittal Council School. (Loud applause.)

The school has already done well in providing comforts for our wounded soldiers in local hospitals. The proceeds of the second display go to provide gifts for the Spittal men who are now serving in the Navy or Army.

Mr R. C. Clements, amid general regret, especially on the part of the boys, has now left the school and taken up duties at Alnwick in the 7th Northumberland Fusiliers.

Mr John Martin Tait, B.Sc., the other assistant, has been serving since March as 2nd Lieut. in the 10th Battalion N.F.





Bright Lights – James Cuthbert, butcher, Berwick, was charged with disobeying an order to obscure the lights of his house at 11.25p.m., on the 17th July. Defendant did not appear. Sergt. Moor said that at the time stated he saw the lights shining right across the street. He called defendant and showed him the light. Defendant said – You only want something to talk about. Witness told him to shut the door or shade the light, and defendant said he would put it out as he was going to bed, but it remained for another fifteen minutes. P.C. Welsh corroborated. The Chief Constable said defendant had called the previous night to say he could not get to Court. He expressed regret that he had offended. Fined 5s. Mr McCreath said if other cases of a similar nature came up they would be more severely dealt with.


BAdvertisr 23 July 1915 Tyneside Scottish Advert RESIZED larger

Berwick Advertiser 23 July 1915, Tyneside Scottish-Advert



“The Playhouse.”– The good audiences this week have been sufficient testimony of the excellence of the “Playhouse” programmes. Jack Duncanson, the famous basso and entertainer has nightly delighted the audiences and he cannot but be pleased with the welcome he received on his re-appearance in Berwick. The bioscopic side of the programme at the beginning of the week was all

Charlie Chaplin 1915 Creative Commons License PD US

Charlie Chaplin 1915 Creative Commons License PD US

that could be desired, while commencing on Thursday, the feature will be “Harry the Swell” which is a drama enthrilling, exciting, and sensational. “Lovers Luck”, a side splitting Keystone comedy will also be shown. A solo will be given at each performance by one of the members of the orchestra, and it is a new feature which is greatly appreciated. A good programme billed for next week when the vaudeville turn will be “Carvel and Dora” in a novel act entitled “The Ventriloquist and the Maid”. The bioscopic feature at the beginning of the week will be “The Dare-devil Circus Queen” which is a most thrilling episode of circus life. It shows one of the most sensational acts ever performed by a film actor. The heroine on a horse mounts the roof of a car of a gigantic pleasure wheel and is hoisted 300 feet. There is no fake connected with the wonder, and the act is one to be seen to be believed. For the second part of the week the feature will be “In Peace and War”, which as a war picture is very interesting in more ways than one, for the subject is dealt with from some novel standpoints. Interest in the film is maintained throughout and the photographic scenes are splendidly laid. The public favourite, “Charles Chaplin” is to appear in “Champion Charlie”, a two-reel comedy. In this picture Charlie is seen at his best in a boxing match.


Stannington Project Party

Yesterday afternoon we welcomed many of the former patients and staff from Stannington Sanatorium to the Study Centre at Northumberland Archives where they were able to see the results of our latest project.  Many of them had visited before as part of an oral history project last year but for some it was their first visit to see the records of Stannington Sanatorium.  We were able to explain to them how the files had now been fully catalogued and organised in such a way that if any of them wished to see their own patient file this could be achieved with relative ease.  They all also offered up their support to the idea of the patient files being used in the future to facilitate academic research.

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With plenty of tea and cake around it was a good opportunity for former patients to meet and chat about their experiences of their time in Stannington and more importantly it was fantastic for us to finally be able to meet some of the people whose records we’ve spent so long working with and see the real people behind the fascinating story of Stannington.  One former patient in particular, Betty Jewitt, also very kindly deposited some photographs she had from Stannington, which will now be held in the archive and available for the public to view.

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The press were in attendance and Stannington featured on yesterday evening’s Look North and you can see a clip from this on the BBC website:  Stannington will also soon feature in the local newspapers, so look out there for more!  There were a series of banners on display yesterday for everyone to read about the history of Stannington and we hope to see these tour local venues in the north east shortly and will let you all know where they’ll be going and when.

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A big thank you to everyone that came along!

This Week in World War One, 16 July 1915

Berwick Advertiser title 1915





Under ideal weather conditions Berwick Grammar School held their annual school sports in the Pier Field on Thursday afternoon. There was a large attendance of parents and friends and the various events were keenly contested. The Rev. R. C. Inglis and Mr A. L. Miller acted as judges and the two house masters, Mr Pearce and Mr Woodcock officiated as starters and handicappers. At the conclusion of the sports the prizes were presented to the successful competitors by Commander F. M. Norman, R.N., in the unavoidable absence of the Mayoress (Mrs T. Wilson). Before presenting the prizes Captain Norman said he had for many years presented the prizes to the boys in school, but this was the first time he had had the privilege and honour of presenting the prizes at the annual school sports. He had to congratulate them on the splendid weather they had during the afternoon, and he was sure it had been a pleasure to all to watch the various events. It was of inestimable benefit to the boys to take part in such games, and he hoped that it would help them to become good citizens and soldiers. It gave him great pleasure to announce that no less than 100 old boys of the school had their names inscribed on the roll of honour, and were serving their King and Country. (Applause.)

Old Grammar School Building, Palace Street East, Berwick-upon-Tweed. Photograph taken in August 1952.

Old Grammar School Building, Palace Street East, Berwick-upon-Tweed. Photograph © Barbara Carr and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

In presenting the prizes, Captain Norman referred to the fact that the first prize for the Cross Country Run had been presented by Pte. T. Boal, 7th N.F., who was at present serving in the trenches. Private Boal was last year the winner of the Norman Challenge Bowl, and it was gratifying to know that, while he was in France, he had not forgot his old school. He hoped Pte. Boal would be spared to come back amongst them. (Applause.) Mr A. L. Miller proposed a hearty vote of thanks to captain Norman for presenting the prizes. The name of Captain Norman had been long associated with the school, and he was sure that wherever and whenever old boys and present pupils thought of Berwick Grammar School, they would always remember Captain Norman, who had taken such a kindly interest in them. (Applause.) The boys gave three hearty cheers for Captain Norman, and the singing of “God Save the King” brought the proceedings to a close.

Postscript: the above article refers to a Pte. T. Boal, 7th N.F., this should have read Pte. J.E. Boal who was later promoted to Corporal 7th Northumberland Fusiliers. The T. Boal mentioned in the article was his father.


Corporal John Edgar Boal 7th Northumberland Fusiliers


BOAL, Cpl. John Edgar, 2074, M.M. 7th Bn. Northumberland Fusiliers, attd. 149th T.M. Bty. Accidently killed 8th Dec., 1916. Age 20. Son of Thomas W. and Lily Boal, of 12, West St., Berwick-upon-Tweed. Educated at Berwick Grammar School. The notice below shows the presentation of the Military Medal to Mr Thomas. W. Boal, father of the late Corporal John Edgar Boal dated 14th April 1917.

Presentation of Military Medal to J E Boal. Reference no: D13-1-83-001

Presentation of Military Medal to J E Boal. Reference no: D13-1-83-001




A worthy old Spittal couple in the persons of George Elliott, fisherman, residing in Gibson’s Row, and his good lady celebrated the 50th anniversary of their marriage on Monday, and were the recipients of many presents and congratulations from their family and friends.

Golden Wedding Anniversary Plaque

Golden Wedding Anniversary Plaque


The family of George Elliott from the 1901 Census:

Name: George Elliott

Age: 56

Spouse: Jane Elliott

Birth Place: Northumberland, Spittal

Civil parish: Tweedmouth

Ecclesiastical parish: Spittal St John the Evangelist

County/Island: Northumberland

Registration district: Berwick

Household Members: 

George Elliott aged 56, occupation fisherman. Jane Elliott aged 56. Richard Elliott aged 27, occupation fisherman. George Elliott aged 25, occupation Salmon fisher. Joseph Elliott aged 16, occupation labourer. Thomas Elliott aged 13, Ellen Elliott aged 23 and Isabella Elliott aged 19, occupation Clay Pipe Moulder,


The family of George Elliott from the 1911 Census:

Name: George Elliott

Age: 65

Birth Place: Tweedmouth, Northumberland, England

Civil parish: Tweedmouth

County/Island: Northumberland

Street Address; 6B East St, Spittal, Berwick

Marital status: Married

Occupation: Fisherman

Registration district: Berwick

Household Members: 

George Elliott aged 65, occupation fisherman. Jane Elliott aged 65. Joseph Elliott aged 26, occupation fisherman. Thomas Elliott aged 23, occupation Cooper, Herring Curing.



Magnificent collection
1,153 Eggs as a gift for the Wounded


What may very truly be described as a “unique service,” was held on Sunday last in the Congregational Church, Spittal, when an effort to procure eggs for the use of the wounded soldiers quartered in the Borough was brought to a most successful issue. The special service was held in the evening when a crowded congregation, gathered for worship, which was conducted by the minister of the Church, the Rev. Frederick T. Williams. The praise portion first celebrated was fittingly rendered by the choir of the Church, and included the anthems, “Blessed is he that Considereth the Poor”, and “The Lord is Almighty” Mr J. N. Peace, B.A., also contributed a solo. Immediately preceding the hymn “We give Thee but Thine Own, “ the Minister said he thought that would be the most fitting moment in the service to express his sense of gratitude for the magnificent response which had been made to his appeal. In a very appropriate manner he said:- “My dear friends, let me at this point in the service express my sincere thanks for the truly magnificent manner in which you have responded to my appeal. You have far exceeded my expectations, but then you have been constantly doing that during the term of my pastorate in this place. I know you are all wondering and some of you have been making various calculations as to the number of eggs which you see so nicely displayed in the front of the Church. Including those brought to the service this evening I have received no less than eleven hundred and fifty-three. Truly a generous gift from loving hearts. Why have you done this? The answer comes very readily. I know the one all compelling motive which has moved you. True there are one or two motives of a secondary nature. I know you like to do your best for every appeal made by the Church. I know you like to encourage the man who for the time being is your minister; and you have never given me cause for greater thankfulness than you have today, and I am proud of you; but these considerations do not constitute the chief reason why you have done this thing. You have done it, because you have husbands, sons, brothers, sweethearts serving at the Front. Some of them have been wounded and they are lying in hospitals in different parts of England, and you know that our countrymen in every town and village are doing what they can to minister to their comfort. As you would like them treated as you know they are being treated, even so you are seeking to do for those in your own midst who having given themselves for their country’s service, have returned stricken from the field of battle. God bless you everyone, and in the name of those for whom your gifts are intended please accept my heartfelt thanks.

After the hymn had been sung a suitable prayer was offered, and then the Reverend gentleman preached a most appropriate sermon…

Stannington’s Reach

Although based in Northumberland, Stannington Sanatorium wasn’t restricted to taking patients solely from the County of Northumberland.  Looking through the patient files and the earlier minutes of the sanatorium we see that there were many different local authorities wishing to send children to Stannington.  Over the years the authorities of Cumberland, Durham, Newcastle, Gateshead, Rochdale and West Yorkshire all sent patients there at some point, reflecting the uniqueness of Stannington, particularly in its early days, as a sanatorium that catered for children only.  Local authorities would pay for so many beds, and often on the discharge of one child would immediately send another in their place.





Opening in 1907 Stannington began life at a time when changes were beginning to be seen in healthcare provision nationally.  Only a few years later in 1911 the National Insurance Act came into force allowing the employed to benefit from medical care on a contributory basis, with particular note made to the treatment of tuberculosis.  We see very few private patients in Stannington throughout its whole history and the majority of children would have been sent by their local authorities as part of the poor relief system, later called public assistance, up until the introduction of the NHS.  Without the assistance of the local authorities many of these children would not have received any medical help at all, and their reliance on them is seen in 1916 when one girl suffering from tubercular patches on her face comes to the end of the time that has initially been paid for by Newcastle Corporation but medical staff consider it appropriate for her to continue to stay on at the sanatorium as her treatment remains incomplete.  However, despite an application being made for an extension Newcastle Corporation refuse to pay and instead the matron makes pleas to the sanatorium’s management committee to allow the girl to stay free of charge until she is fully recovered on the basis that she is a good worker.

“She is a capital worker & is quite healthy in all other ways but her face.  I was wondering gentlemen if you would give permission for this girl to stay on here for some time for free – she could work for us in return for the treatment.” Matron


Given the limited resources of both the sanatorium and the local authorities and considering how rife tuberculosis was during this period it seems quite fair to assume that the children that were eventually admitted to Stannington were the lucky ones, with many more not being able to go.

This Week in World War One, 9 July 1915

Berwick Advertiser title 1915






Trumpeter William. J. Brett, 72nd Battery of the Royal Field Artillery

Trumpeter William. J. Brett, 72nd Battery of the Royal Field Artillery

Congratulations to Trumpeter Wm. J. Brett, 72nd Battery of the Royal Field Artillery, who has, through his bravery, been recommended for the Distinguished Service Medal. Trumpeter Brett is the youngest son of Barrack Warden P. Brett, K.O.S.B. Berwick, and Mrs Brett, Wellington Cottage, Quay Walls. Trumpeter Brett, who is only 18 years of age, joined the Royal Field Artillery, about three years ago. He has been at the front since the beginning of the war, and last Friday arrived home on four days leave. On the way home he was informed by his officer that he had been recommended for the D.S.M. for the following brave action:- Trumpeter Brett was out on field telephone service and from his point of observation he saw three companies of Germans a little over a mile away quickly advancing towards his battery. Very pluckily Trumpeter Brett remained at his post until he got word through to his officer that the Germans were approaching. A gun was quickly mounted at a level crossing and the German companies were practically wiped out. Had it not been for his promptitude and pluck in remaining to send the message in all likelihood his battery would have been taken by surprise, the consequences of which can be imagined. Mr and Mrs Brett have good reason to be proud of the achievement of their youngest son. Their eldest son, Gunner P.J.G. Brett, is stationed at Jahasi, India, with the 79th Battery of the R.F.A. It is interesting to note that Trumpeter Brett’s paternal grandfather, who was in an Irish regiment, held the Crimean Medal; while his maternal grandfather, who served for 37 years in the East Surreys and Border Regiment, held the Maori Medal. Trumpeter Brett left for the Front on Monday at midnight, and we wish him good luck and a safe return.





Mr Toohey, Customs Office, Berwick, has received the following letter from the Hon. Mrs Eva Armstrong, secretary of the Camps Library:- “Thank you so very much for your kind letter. We are most grateful to you for all the books you are sending us, and for the great help you give us by receiving and dispatching these. I think you will probably get a good many books from Lady Clementine Waring, so if you will forward them to us we shall be much obliged. I think it is an excellent idea to have advised the local scouts that you are receiving books for us through the medium of the Press, and I am sure they will be glad to send you any they collect.” Mr Toohey begs to thank the following for gifts of books:- Lady Clementine Waring, Lennel; Mrs F.W. Wilsden, The Elms, Berwick; Mr R.A. Donaldson, 25 East Street, Berwick; and Mrs Matheson, 3 Devon Terrace, Berwick. Further gifts of books will be gratefully received at the Customs Office, Berwick.


Berwick Advertiser James Dunlop & Son Advert

Berwick Advertiser 9 July 1915, James Dunlop & Son Advert




Pretty Dress that Looks Well and Costs Little


Everybody is talking about saving and investing, chiefly in connection with the new and evidently popular War Loan, but many, thrifty housewives and sensible girls are investing 6½d each week in our deservedly popular paper patterns which not only enable them to make pretty and serviceable garments at home, but to save money on the cost of buying ready-to-wear things which so far as cut

Berwick Advertiser 9 July 1915.

Berwick Advertiser 9 July 1915, Summer Frock

and style go, are not to be compared with the same articles built on the lines of our patterns at home.

A pretty idea for a summer frock will be found in sketch No.1587. Quite a number of pretty dresses this season are made of deep embroidery flouncing of voile, muslin, or lace, and the effect is always dainty and charming. No doubt the full skirts have defeated the demand for flouncing and the consequent charm or our new frocks. But a little change has been evolved in the design here presented, by placing the flouncing, with prettily gathered heading, on a well shaped upper skirt part. This is a good idea for it takes away the bulk of material which to the full length flounce skirt, and which is not becoming to all figures.

The material for the bodice and upper skirt should correspond in texture with the flouncing of the lower skirt. Plain voiles and crepes can be obtained which will “go” with flouncing of these materials, also plain lawns and muslins for embroidery cotton goods. The quantities for the realisation of our pretty design are as follows:- Of 18 to 20 inch flouncing, 3 yards; of plain double width material, 3 yards-this being apportioned in this way, 1½ yards for the bodice, and 1½ yards for the upper skirt.

A Northumberland Fusilier in Egypt 1915, Surely not! John ‘Jack’ Robinson (1895 – 1924)

John (always known as Jack) was born at Lilburn Hill Farm, near Wooler where his father worked as a groom. Jack was baptised at St Mary’s Church, Wooler on the 27th November 1895. By the time Jack reached school aged (5 years), his family had relocated to Spindlestone Farm, near Belford and he attended the local school until leaving at the age of 13 years. Jack worked with his father as a horseman, firstly at Spindlestone Farm and then at Blubbery Farm, near Morpeth until the outbreak of the Great War.

The exact date that Jack enlisted into the Army is not known as his service record was destroyed in the London Blitz during World War 2. It is known that he joined the Northumberland Fusiliers and was placed in the newly formed 8th Battalion soon after the war had started as he was awarded the 1914-15 Star in addition to the British War and Victory medals.

al rob 2

His First World War Medal Index Card shows that Jack’s first ‘theatre of war served in’ was in Egypt from the 16th July 1915. This entry caused confusion when researching as no evidence could be found of the Fusiliers being in Egypt at that time. Eventually contact was made with the Fusiliers’ Museum in Alnwick Castle who provided the following information from the Battalion’s War Diaries:

“The 8th Battalion sailed from Liverpool on 3rd July 1915, arriving at the Greek island of Lemnos on the 10th July 1915. The Battalion remained here until the 6th August, when they embarked for Gallipoli aboard two Destroyers.”

The diary entries of the 10th and 11th July go on to record:

“10th – Arrived at MUDROS BAY and anchored. Orders received that the base would be at ALEXANDRIA. All G.S. (General Service) Limbered Wagons (except “cookers” and water carts), men’s kit bags, Officer’s 100lb kits would be sent to base. 1 Non Commissioned Officer & 4 men to accompany them.”

“11th – Disembarked and went into bivouac on LEMNOS island. Sent one additional man to ALEXANDRIA to look after transport wagons.”

The museum archivist goes on to say:

“It may be that your grandfather was one of these five men who left the rest of the Battalion for the base in Alexandria, thus making Egypt his first “Theatre of War”. Indeed, I cannot think of any other reasons why this Northumberland Fusilier should find himself in Egypt at this point during the war. The only other Northumberland Fusilier Battalion known to have served in Egypt was the 2/7th Battalion, though they did not land there until January 1917.”

Although the diaries do not name the soldiers sent to Alexandria, the information above plus the theatre of war recorded on Jack’s Medal Index Card has convinced the researcher that Jack was in Egypt in July 1915.

Family knowledge indicates that Jack fought in France. This would have come about by Jack re-joining the rest of the 8th Battalion which had been withdrawn from Gallipoli at the end of 1915 to defend a section of the Suez Canal in Egypt. In July 1916, the Battalion left Egypt for France where they were used as reinforcements in the battle of The Somme (1916) and the battles of Messines (1917) and Passchendaele (1917).

Further family information indicates that Jack was back home with his family in March 1918. It is not known if he was on home leave or recuperating from possible wounds. What is known is that he took the opportunity of being home to marry his fiancé, Martha Bell. The marriage taking place on 30th March at St John’s Church, Ashington.

Soon after the wedding, Jack returned to France where his Battalion were involved in the Second Battle of the Somme and the Battles of the Hindenburg Line.

By the time Jack returned to his wife in Ashington, he was a father for the first time, daughter Ivy being born at the beginning of January 1919 at Martha’s family home in Sycamore Street. Shortly afterwards, Jack, Martha and baby Ivy moved to a home of their own in Council Terrace, Ashington. By now, unable to obtain work as a horseman, Jack found himself working as a coal miner hewer at nearby Ashington Colliery.

al rob 1In July 1919, Ashington Council held a Victory Parade and celebrations for the returning servicemen. Each serviceman was given a silver medal by the Council depicting a soldier and a sailor with the inscription:

“Ashington Sailors & Soldiers Great War 1914 – 1919 Welcome Home”

Over the next three years, Jack and Martha added to their family, William born in October 1920 (sadly dying in 1922) and Robert born in October 1922.

Jack continued working as a coal miner at Ashington Colliery, but sadly died in March 1924 of Phthsis Pulmonalis (Tuberculosis) leaving Martha with daughter Ivy (age 5 years) and son Robert (age 17 months).

Jack was laid to rest in the churchyard of St. John, Hirst, Ashington on the 16th March.

We would like to express our sincere appreciation to Allan Robinson for supplying this article for our Northumberland At War Project.

Differential Diagnosis: Perthes’ Disease

A number of the patients admitted to Stannington were mistakenly given an initial diagnosis of tuberculosis or were found upon examination to be non-tuberculous and were instead allocated an alternative diagnosis. Perthes’ Disease was the most common differential diagnosis assigned to the bones and joints in Stannington, affecting the hip joint this condition was often mistaken as tuberculous-arthritis of the hip.

Perthes’ Disease, a condition that usually affects children between the ages of 4 and 10, is a condition where the blood supply to the femoral head is temporarily lost. This causes the bone at the epiphysis of the femur to soften and breakdown, known as necrosis, giving the femoral head a flattened appearance.

Patient 88/38, a 6 year old boy, is one example of a patient from Stannington with Perthes’ Disease, in this case affecting the left hip. Admitted to Stannington on 31st October 1941, clinical notes read:

‘L. hip – some wasting thigh muscles. Some limitation flexion. Hip in good position.’

FIGURE 2: HOSP-STAN-07-01-02-569_03

FIGURE 2: HOSP-STAN-07-01-02-569_03

Figure 1: HOSP-STAN-07-01-02-569_02

Figure 1: HOSP-STAN-07-01-02-569_02









This is supported by the radiographs for the patient, figures 1 and 2 respective of date, and x-ray report:

‘13/11/1941 – Hip – flattened epiphysis has progressed since last x-ray 15/09/1941. Perthes’ Disease

20/11/1941 -Marked flattening of epiphysis L. hip. Some softening of neck. Definite Perthes’ Disease.’


By comparison, tuberculosis of the hip (see posting from 08/12/2014) results in the gradual destruction of the hip joint beginning with a reduction in the joint space between the femoral head and the acetabulum, leading to possible porosity and eburnation in the affected bones and the possibility of pathological dislocation, deformity and loss of use in the affected joint. Even after the disease has reached quiescence it is possible that the individual will suffer with ongoing osteoarthritis or ankyloses.

FIGURE 3: HOSP-STAN-07-01-02-591_03

FIGURE 3: HOSP-STAN-07-01-02-591_03

Figure 2, above, is of patient 88/38 with Perthes’ Disease, which can be compared with figure 3, patient 89/21, an individual with TB of the right hip. From the images, note the difference between the Perthes’ Disease where the femoral head becomes flattened and the epiphysis appears to pull away from the metaphysis but generally keeps its ‘ball and socket’ joint appearance with the pelvis compared to the loss of definition of a clear joint with the tuberculous hip, which shows loss of joint space and rarefaction.


For further radiographic images check out the Radiographs from Stannington Flickr Stream at



The Perthes’ Association (2011). ‘What is Perthes’ Disease?’