This Week in World War One, 28 July 1916

Berwick Advertiser title 1915






We have pleasure in publishing today a most interesting group photo of four generations of an old Berwick family. The subject of our sketch is Mrs Jane Heslop, widow of the late Mr Thomas Heslop, who, although she has reached the 100th milestone in her life’s journey retains a mind alert and keen, though time has brought with its march bodily frailty. On Thursday she received the congratulations of a large number of friends and relatives who were mostly present in person to celebrate the unique event. We trust that Mrs Heslop will yet have years granted to her in the pleasant company of her own kith and kin.

Berwick Advertiser 28 July 1916 100 Not Out Berwick Lady's Record prt1 RESIZED

Mrs Jane Heslop, who resides with her daughter, Mrs Chambers, 47 West Percy Street, North Shields, was widowed some 30 years ago. Her husband was Thomas Heslop, at one time employed by Messrs Cowe, grocers, High Street, Berwick, and later with the Berwick Salmon Fisheries Company, under the late Mr George Paulin. Mrs Heslop, who is now mostly confined to bed, still evinces a great interest in the progress of the war, and up to a year ago she was able to do a considerable amount of light housework. Having lived in the time of Waterloo she often speaks of the prices to which foodstuffs rose and compares the rises with those of the present time. She left Berwick about twelve years ago, going to reside wither daughter, who has given her every care and attention, and prior to her leaving the Border town she lived for many years at Well Close Square. She was the oldest member of the United Free Church, Berwick, and we understand that her minister, Rev. R. C. Inglis (who was a trusted friend of the old lady), had signified his intention of being present at the interesting celebration on Thursday. Illness was recently the misfortune of the old dame, but we are glad to learn she has now quite recovered. Mrs Heslop is a member of an old Border family of name Burns (who are believed to be of descent from Scotland’s bard), and time has proved the family to be a long lived race. Two of her nephews were well known on the Borders – Ex Provost Burns, Coldstream, and Mr Burns, Tweedmouth formerly of Greenlawalls. Her sister resides in South Shields, and is now 98 years of age. Six of a family were born to Mrs Heslop, two of whom died young. Two daughters and one son still survive, but the other, Mr Edward Heslop, a genial and respected townsman, died some six years ago.

The photo, which we publish, has the subject of our sketch as the central figure, with her daughter, Mrs Chambers, on the left, and her granddaughter, Mrs Scott, and her little great-grandson on the right.




Tweedmouth Feast – The anniversary of Tweedmouth Feast was celebrated on Sunday and Monday, which in ordinary times is the great day of the year. It is the time of the year when Tweedsiders from the busy hives of industry on Tyneside and Wearside, and indeed throughout the country, re-visit their old homes and have their annual re-unions. But the war has made a great change in this annual event. There has been no sports or regattas held these past two years. But for a few shows and roundabouts on the Green at Tweedmouth West End this year, no one would really know that a great anniversary was being celebrated. The holiday was observed, the shops closing at 1 o’clock, although there seemed to be a doubt whether business was to be suspended or not. The Banks did not observe the half-holiday. The weather was of a delightful character throughout.


Brilliant Success of a Spittal Schoolboy – The report of the results of the recent Scholarship Examination for the County of Northumberland sates that 1196 candidates were examined from 192 schools. The names of the first ten successful pupils are arranged in order of merit. We congratulate John Cringle, of Spittal Council School, whose name stands third on the list. Such a high position out of nearly twelve hundred candidates reflects great credit on the Borough. Mr T. W. G. Borthwick, the headmaster, has good reason to feel proud of Spittal Council School, and the brilliant success of his pupil. Last year Spittal school took first, second, and fifth places in order of merit among the local candidates.

Children line up in the school playground of Spittal School in the early 1900s, with the headmaster and civic party. © Berwick Record Office, BRO 1887-50-3.
Children line up in the school playground of Spittal School in the early 1900s, with the Headmaster and Civic Party. © Berwick Record Office, BRO 1887-50-3.





A severe thunderstorm, accompanied by vivid flashes of lightning, passed over Berwick on Thursday evening. At the back of six o’clock the storm seemed to be at its height and at 6.20 the thunder and lightning were particularly impressive and awesome. A ball of fire exploded, accompanied with a deafening report, at this time, the lightning striking a chimney top of the tenement in the High Street occupied by Messrs John Stodart, grocers and wine merchants. The top of the chimney top was completely shattered, the debris flying over the roof of the adjacent higher tenement which enters Golden Square. Torrential rain afterwards fell, and the storm seemed to gradually moderate.

John Stoddart, Grocers, Wines & Spirits premises in Golden Square which was struck by lightning, is shown in this early 1900s photograph. © Berwick Record Office, BRO 1506-010.
John Stoddart, Grocers, Wines & Spirits premises in Golden Square which was struck by lightning, is shown in this early 1900s photograph. © Berwick Record Office, BRO 1506-010.

Life in the County Lunatic Asylum

The Northumberland County Pauper Lunatic Asylum opened on 16 March 1859. Lunatic Asylums were managed by Committees of Visitors appointed by the Quarter Sessions under the Lunacy Act 1845 and were subject to visits by the Commissioners in Lunacy. Situated in Cottingwood, Morpeth, the asylum was a magnificent Victorian building built in the Italian style of red brick with stone dressings. Designed by Henry Welsh, it was originally built to accommodate about 200 male and female patients. In 1890 the asylum was renamed the County Mental Hospital then in 1937 the name was changed to St. George’s Hospital. In 2006 St Georges Park, a purpose built mental health hospital was built on the old St. George’s site.


Site of County Lunatic Asylum
Site of County Lunatic Asylum


The plan below was drawn by the architect John Cresswell and  gives a 3 dimensional view of the asylum and its grounds. The apartments on the west side were for female inmates while males were situated on the east. Surrounding the buildings were pleasure and kitchen gardens as well as a stone chapel and brewery. The Superintendent was the principal officer of the asylum and was required to be a medical practitioner and legally qualified. The Matron was responsible for all female attendants, servants and female patients and the Clerk/Steward for male patients and male staff.


Birds eye view of Asylum 1901
Birds eye view of Asylum


Early records for the asylum show it to be professionally managed.  All male and female patients had to be kept in separate wards.  No male attendant, servant or patient could enter the female wards, nor any female enter the male wards except in cases where the Superintendent deemed it advisable. The Asylum Rule Book stated the following:

“There be at least one attendant for every ward and that there be not less than one attendant for every 25 patients who are tranquil or convalescent and not less than one attendant for every 12 patients who are dirty, violent, refractory or dangerous to themselves or others. No ward shall be left at any time without an attendant being there and that the attendant be so distributed that in case of need they may readily assist each other.”


Reasons for admissions in 1861
Reasons for admissions in 1861


A booklet entitled Rules of Government for the Pauper Lunatic Asylum 1860 stated that dormitories had to contain more than 3 beds and had to have a space of at least 2 feet and six inches between them. An attendant had to sleep in an adjoining room and a light was kept on through the night. No patient was to be struck or kept in perpetual restraint or seclusion. If a patient needed to be restrained, it had to be reported to the Superintendent as soon as possible and documented in the Day Book. Visitors were permitted to the asylum once a fortnight. Every visit made by a male relation or friend to a female patient had to have the Matron or female attendant present throughout the entire visit. The booklet also stated that in relation to the death of a patient, the passing had to be firstly reported to the parish officer. The House Steward would then inform one of the nearest relations of the deceased and the body would be delivered to them if requested. If the body was not taken by the fourth day, it was buried under the direction of the Superintendent.

During the day patients of both sexes were employed. Men worked in the garden and were taught trades by Shoemakers, Tailors, Plumbers and Painters. The women worked in the laundry and kitchen and also undertook sewing, knitting and mending work. Reading was encouraged and an ample supply of books and publications of a moral and cheerful nature had to be made available. This was in addition to the bible and prayer books.


Job opportunities in the asylum
Job opportunities in the asylum


The Superintendent issued a yearly report commenting on admissions, discharges and deaths. Recommendations were made for improvements to the building and patient care but events and observations were also recorded. The report for 1868 stated that when one woman was admitted she was searched and was found to have on her person money and bankers receipts of upwards of £500. The sum was unknown to her husband or family and was shrouded in mystery. It was noted that every Wednesday evening there was a dance interspersed with songs and on two occasions a conjuring entertainment was kindly provided by Mr Shute the Assistant Surgeon. In the summer months the men played cricket, bowls, quoits and football while the women played croquet. The patients also enjoyed picnics at the seaside.

The Commissioners in Lunacy also visited the asylum and issued a yearly report. The report for 1867 claimed that the state of the inmates was satisfactory, their person and clothing were very clean and in general their conduct was orderly with nobody in seclusion. On the day of the visit dinner consisted of baked meat, potatoes, bread and beer. The wards were clean and properly ventilated but were said to have a bare appearance. It was noted that a good deal of painting, colouring and papering was required and it was hoped that the most cheerful, light and pleasing colours would be chosen. Space was a major concern and the day rooms were classed as being seriously overcrowded. The report for 1873 commented upon the death of a male patient who had died due to a blow to the head but who was also found to have his breast bone and five ribs fractured. It was never discovered how these injuries were inflicted. A female patient was also mentioned as when out walking with a party of other females she committed suicide by jumping in the river. Due to this incident walks outside of the asylum had been terminated.


QAL 17 copy

“This Week in World War One, 14 July 1916

Berwick Advertiser title 1915





No Change in Foreign Secretaryship


Sir Edward Grey © No known rights on publication. Wikimedia Commons.
Sir Edward Grey © No known rights on publication. Wikimedia Commons.


We are in receipt the following telegram from the Official Press Bureau :-

The King has been pleased to confer the dignity of an Earldom of the United Kingdom on the Right Hon. Sir Edward Grey, Bart., K.G., M.P.

The King has been pleased to approve of the appointment of the Right Hon. Lloyd George, M.P., to be Secretary of State for War.

In consequence of Sir E. Grey’s elevation to the Peerage, not more than four of the five Secretaries of State will have seats in the House of Commons.


It is stated that Sir Edward Grey will on his elevation to the peerage take the title of earl Grey of Falloden, which will sufficiently distinguish him from other “Greys” in the peerage – Earl Grey, Lord Grey de Ruthyn, and Viscount Grey de Wilton. Foreign affairs in the Commons will now be in the exclusive charge of Lord Robert Cecil, and the Government is fortunate in having an Under-Secretary in that office who not only commands the confidence of the House and impresses all at Westminster by his knowledge, ability, and efficiency, but who from the fact that he is a member of the Cabinet will be able to speak authoritatively upon foreign questions. The arrangement therefore is highly convenirnt alike for the Commons and the Government, although sincere regret is expressed at the departure of Sir Edward from an Assembly in which he has sat for over thirty years. Sir Edward’s indifferent health, however, has been a cause of anxiety to his friends. His eyes still trouble him, and it is hoped that with less exacting Parliamentary duties the change will prove physically beneficial to him.




New Teacher for National School. – At a meeting of managers of Berwick Boys’ National School, held on Tuesday, to consider the appointment of a certificated assistant, in room of Mr Thos. Lindsay, who retired lately, it was unanimously agreed to appoint Miss Dover to the vacant post. The new teacher is a daughter of Mr Dover, King’s Arms, Berwick.

Derelict Salmon Cobles. – Two fishing cobles, painted black with blue, gunwales each 15 feet long, have been washed up on the foreshore one mile north of Goswick Railway Station. They have been placed in safety, and are now in custody of the Receiver of Wreck. These boats probably came down the Tweed with the heavy floods of last week-end.

weed Salmon Coble. © Berwick Record Office. BRO 1944-1-1936-9.
Tweed Salmon Coble. © Berwick Record Office. BRO 1944-1-1936-9.


Herring Fishing Report, Berwick, 12th July. – The herring fishing for the past week was light in the northern ports of the district, and of a total for the week of 5481 crans less than 1000 were landed at theses ports, the remainder being landed at North Shields. The principal fishing grounds have been south of the Farne Islands, the usual grounds off this coast having yielded very poor results so far. With the exception of Friday night, which was very foggy, the weather was favourable for fishing. A break in the fishing was also caused by the news of 8 herring boats having been sunk on Thursday night by a German submarine. Only a few crews proceeded to sea on the following night, and otherwise many boats did not go the usual distance off shore. Several crews are adding small boats as parts of their outfits, in case of eventualities. The total catch to 8th inst. is now 21,654 crans, as compared with 2115 crans in 1915, and 69,437 in 1914. The quality was but fair, and prices mostly 50s to 70s per cran. At North Shields averages of 17 and 25 crans have been landed this week, and 7 and 12 at Eyemouth, Berwick lightly fished. Today 8 boats averaged 7 crans, highest shot 16 crans.

Herring boats© Berwick Record Office. BRO 1887-25-4.
Herring boats© Berwick Record Office. BRO 1887-25-4.




On Wednesday last about 12.30 p.m. a very lamentable accident befell two army aviators while flying on the East Coast, the observer being killed and the pilot badly injured. The machine was first observed by farm workers on an outlying farm, to be approaching rather low and evidently having engine trouble. The intention apparently was to land, but the spectators were horrified to see the craft suddenly nose-dive. Hurrying to the spot it was found the observer (Mr Barrie) had almost ceased to breathe, while the pilot (Mr Hambly) was also suffering from injuries of a severe nature. All that was possible was done for the unfortunate men, Mr Barrie, however, only surviving a few moments. The other occupant, we are glad to learn, is doing as well as can be expected. The remains of the deceased officer were removed for internment during Friday. The machine was destroyed.




A meeting of the Northumberland Licensing Committee, sitting as the Compensation Authority, was held at the Moot Hall, Newcastle, on Monday. Mr G. D. Atkinson Clark presiding, to consider the question of compensation in respect of four Berwick licenses, the licenses of which had been taken away. The houses were the Coble Inn, Low Greens (of which the registered owners are the Tweed Brewery), the Pack Horse Inn, Church Street, the White Swan Inn, Castlegate, and the Railway Inn, Main Street, Tweedmouth, of which the Border Brewery were the registered owners. Mr W. Weatherhead (Berwick) appeared for the owners in each case. A claim for £590 was put in with respect to the Coble Inn. The Bench offered £510, and that sum was accepted. The tenant’s compensation was put at £50. The other three houses were sent to the Inland Revenue for settlement. The compensation claimed in respect of the three houses was – Pack Horse, £3,733; White Swan, 32,909, Railway Inn, £4,233.