Archive for September 2016

Fancy letters and famous faces

Having previously looked at marks made by clerks and residents of the manors, we will now look beyond the doodles to decorative letters and drawings that are works of art in themselves. Though these had been commonly used in the medieval period their use declined through the centuries, and by the seventeenth century were reserved for a few areas of written texts, such as the legal documents like deeds. In those occasions where they remained they became less about the content of the text and more for decoration. as we go through our manorial documents we often come across examples that are eye-catching.

Below is a nice example of a letter done with shapes and swirls.

IMG_0900

One that is a little more complicated…

1729 indenture of lease and release

More complicated still…

indenture-nro-5233-box-14

Or this one, from a document of Charles I, which takes it further…

Char II exemplification cropped

This is so stylised it becomes difficult to make out the ‘C’ it represents.

However, many examples contain drawings. In the medieval manuscripts these are known as historiated initials and inhabited initials. A historiated initial relates to a picture in the letter that relates to the text, where an inhabited letter is purely decorative. The below sixteenth century example is an inhabited letter, which includes a rather unusual face. Perhaps he goes back to earlier traditions of the psalter and other illuminated works.

funny-face-nro-5233-box-14

We start to see images of the monarch used in some documents such as deeds, and these historiated initials are very skilfully and professionally done. The monarch would be depicted in a cartouche, often attached to the first letter of their name. The earliest example we have come across is James I:

James I

James is shown on his throne next to a stylised ‘J’. Under his cloak he appears to be shown in medieval dress. His shoes are certainly of a much older style, quite unlike the decorative heeled shoes he is usually depicted wearing. Next to the image are the symbols for England (rose), Scotland (thistle) and Wales (fleur-de-lis) joined together, illustrating that the three countries were united by his rule. The swirls turning to leaves may also hark back to an early style of decorating pages.

Next we have James’s son, Charles I.

charles-decoration-nro-5233-box-10a

We can see Charles I in a cartouche, surrounded with ornate patterned decoration and a panel showing roses, unicorns, and other emblems of state, with swirling rose leaves filling the space. The letters are also very ornately decorated. The image of Charles is very well drawn, and shows him with the crown, orb and sceptre.

charles-portrait-nro-5233-box-10a

We have also come across Charles’s granddaughter, Queen Anne. This, like many decorated examples, is an ‘Exemplification of Recovery’, which recorded the breaking or ‘barring’ of an entail (a passage of land solely down the family line), so that the land became fee simple and could be mortgaged, sold or willed to someone not in the entail. They became obsolete in 1833, but were often highly decorated with the monarch’s image and seal to show authenticity.

Queen Anne, from an Exemplification of Recovery, 1710.

Queen Anne, from an Exemplification of Recovery, 1710.

Here we see Queen Anne in a cartouche, with her hair elaborately curled and wearing a chain of jewels. The pearl necklace she wears is perhaps the one still owned and worn by the royal family today.

Detail from the same Exemplification of Recovery, 1710.

Detail from the same Exemplification of Recovery, 1710.

Further along the top of the same document we see a great deal of detailed decoration. The swirling leaves in Charles I’s decoration have grown to become huge scrolling acanthus leaves, which support a rose, and cover much of the top section. Between the leaves we have the Royal coat of arms of Great Britain. This has Queen Anne’s own motto beneath it – ‘Semper Eadem’, meaning ‘always the same’.

These are some examples we have come across in our research, but there are a great many more in our collection, including this beautiful and ostentatious deed from the reign of George II. The decoration transforms an ordinary legal document into something fantastic and beautiful, and gives an added value to the claim that it upholds. We will be keeping our eyes peeled for more monarchs and interesting letters as the project continues.

 

 

This Week in World War One, 22 September 1916

Berwick Advertiser title 1915

 

BERWICK ADVERTISER, 22 SEPTEMBER 1916

 

BERWICK TRIBUNALS

 

Thomas Howe Pattison (37), sign writer and master painter, residing at 12 Parade, Berwick, appealed on the ground of serious hardship. He would have to close if he was taken, and the military allowance would not maintain his wife and family. All his capital had been placed in the business, and in asking him to serve they asked for his home, business, and all. He was willing to do something if he obtained a place in some munition work or corps where the pay would be sufficient to maintain his wife and family. He had been three years established in business; he was a native of Berwick, having learned the trade with his father. After that he worked in Newcastle, returning to Berwick and opening his present business. He had been passed for field service at home.- Mr Hogarth: You are exactly in the same position as other painters that have been asked to serve – Mr Pattison: I don’t exactly understand what you mean by saying that.- The appeal was dismissed.

Linotype Advert

 

Samuel Gibson (18), Tweedmouth, linotype operator, “Advertiser” Office, was appealed for by Mr H. R. Smail, on the ground of serious hardship, and that Gibson’s services were indispensable. The case was heard in private, and the Chairman announced that the members had decided to grant exemption till 31st December. He could apply to the Tribunal again, but they hoped that in the meantime he would do the utmost to obtain a substitute.

 

 

LOCAL NEWS

 

Early Closing of Shops – The special attention of the public is drawn to an advertisement intimating the early closing of all business premises in Berwick from Monday, 2nd October. Commencing on that date, shops will shut on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings at 6p.m., on Saturdays at eight p.m. This will continue until the 1st of March. His Worship the Mayor also trusts that the public will assist in every way possible in the obscuration of all lights during the coming winter. No further warnings are to issued by the police, and in the future severe sentences are to be imposed for failing to observe the regulations which are so necessary at the present time.

 

Postage of Papers to the United States of America – We regret to inform our subscribers for whom we post the “Berwick Advertiser” and the “Berwickshire Advertiser” to the United States of America that owing to the restrictions made by the War Office, London, we cannot continue posting these papers except through an agent, making the cost to be 3d in place of 2d for each paper.

 

CAMPS LIBRARY

 

Further contributions of books, magazines, illustrated papers, etc., have been received at the Custom House – the local depot for this institution during the last week from Mrs R. Sidey and Mrs J. Simpson, Tweedmouth, Miss Grey, High Street; Mr Wilson, 32 Woolmarket; and a 5th lot from Mrs Cleasby Taylor, Bridge Street; also packing cases from the Tweedmouth Co-operative Society. Mr Toohey, collector of customs and excise, wishes to express thanks for same on behalf of the Central Committee, and state he hopes to be daily recipient of much needed lots of books and other suitable reading matter to forward for distribution amongst our sorely tried but brave warriors by flood and field, and their faithful devoted friends and nurses in camps at home and abroad – where so many harassed minds urgently need “something to read” to soothe and tone them up, and give away any tendency to downheartedness, for which in the light of every day happenings recently we have no excuse as the boys are “doing their bit” like true Britons; so also let those who can spare or procure and give “something to read” for the lads, do their bit and support the Camps Library during the period of the war.

 

FOOD PRICES AND STRIKE THREATS

 

Sir, – At that period of the war when Government allowances were settled on the dependants of those who had joined up, the amount was fixed on the basis of what was being lost to the home, by the withdrawal of the male supporters. This, you may be sure, after all official enquiries had been exhausted, was the bare minimum and was also in accordance with the existing food prices, which were then about normal.

Since then food prices have gone up 50 or 60 per cent., with the prospect of still further advances, which may be considerably augmented by the reported potato crop in many districts. Now Sir, the men fighting out there for their 1s 2d a day, part of which they ungrudgingly send home, know how hard it is on dependants under the present conditions, owing to the inflated prices, to meet the ever increasing demands, yet they are helpless to bring about a better and fairer state of things, by asking for their dependants an enchanced Government allowance, equivalent to the rise in prices.

 

World War One 'Breaches of the Rationing Order' poster. © This artistic work created by the United Kingdom Government is in the public domain. Wikimedia Commons.

World War One ‘Breaches of the Rationing Order’ poster. © This artistic work created by the United Kingdom Government is in the public domain. Wikimedia Commons.

 

What would the Empire, the Allies, or the world, think, or say, or do, if these men now doing so well on the different fronts, were to demand 10s per week advance on their dependants allowances, and back it up by the threat to throw up their hands in the face of all enemy attacks, unless their demands were conceded on a certain date, – What would they say or do, I ask? By all means get a strong move on against the unjustitable high prices of food, against the unscrupulous exploiters of the poor, and against the apparent apathy of the Government in the whole acute crisis.

But for heaven’s sake let us do nothing at present, that would for one moment embarrass or foil the magnificent spirit of self sacrifice, we are daily witnessing on the Somme and elsewhere. Our sacrifice, great as it may be at home, is small indeed, compared with that being exercised by those hewers who are making indelible history out there for our sakes at home.

Keep at the Government workers! get redress that shall benefit the nation at large, not a small section only; consolidate your positions, and reserve your fighting tactics till after the Germans have been beaten, and the others fighters from France and all over, shall throw in their lot with you, to destroy that element in our midst which has been making fortunes from the hardships of the poor.

Yours sincerely

THOMAS GREY

Tweedmouth

 

 

VEGETABLES AND FRUIT FOR THE FLEET

 

Mrs M. Askew, Ladykirk, Norham, hon. Secretary to the local branch of the Vegetables Products Committee, has received a letter dated 11th September, from Commodore E. S. Alexander Sinclair. H.M.S, Galatea, also a letter dated 12th September, from the Commanding Officer of H.M.S. Inconstant, and a letter dated 11th Sept. from the Fleet Paymaster (P.M. Coldaugh) of the Victualling Store, H.M. Dockyard, Rosyth, all of which thank that lady for supplies of fruits and vegetables sent for distribution to the men of the Fleet, and which have been very much appreciated.

HMS Galatea, the flagship of the 1st Light Cruiser Squadron under Commodore E.S. Alexander-Sinclair. © HMSO has declared that the expiry of Crown Copyrights applies worldwide. Wikimedia Commons.

HMS Galatea, the flagship of the 1st Light Cruiser Squadron under Commodore E.S. Alexander-Sinclair. © HMSO has declared that the expiry of Crown Copyrights applies worldwide. Wikimedia Commons.

 

The local committee will be very glad to receive donations of vegetables and fruit, which are to be forwarded to the headquarters, Town Hall, Berwick on Saturdays. All who desire to send such gifts to the gallant men of the navy can have same forwarded free of charge by the railway companies. A generous response is appealed for. The Boy Scouts are going round with their cart to ask for gifts of vegetables. One turnip or cabbage from everyone would be most acceptable.

Roland Philipson: ‘Inasmuch’

Without the philanthropist Roland Philipson, who died on the 19th September 1906, the Stannington Sanatorium and Farm Colony would have been drastically different, or may never have existed at all. Descended from Philip de Thirlwall of Thirlwall castle, the Philipson family were famous for coach and train carriage building, and as solicitors and Aldermen of Newcastle. However they were also famous for their philanthropy, establishing many institutions and hospitals, for which Men of Mark Twixt Tyne and Tweed by Richard Welford is recommended reading. Roland’s grandfather, Ralph Park Philipson, was Town Clerk, Alderman, and solicitor to the North-Eastern Railway Company. It was after Ralph’s wife the ‘Philipson Memorial Orphan Asylum’ on Newcastle Town Moor was dedicated, a cause supported by the family for many generations. Roland’s father Hilton was a Justice of the Peace in Newcastle, and he and his wife Jane had five children. Born in Tynemouth in 1863, Roland was raised with his brothers Ralph and Hylton, and sisters Annie and Mary Seely Philipson, later Woosnam. He and his brothers attended Eton, where they can be found on the 1881 census.

Roland Philipson

Roland Philipson

He is described in later census as a mechanical engineer, and on the 2nd June 1905 became a director of the North-Eastern Railway Company. He was also involved in several coal companies, and was a director for the Wallsend Slipway Company, the Consett Iron Company, and North-Eastern Marine Engineering Company. As a Justice of the Peace he acted as chairman for the Wallsend Petty Sessions, and was a Juror at the Northumberland Assizes. The census and Kelly’s directories show he lived at 6 Prior’s Terrace, Tynemouth, but likely had other residences, possibly including one at Howick. He married Louisa Warden Parr in 1888 in Chorlton, Lancashire. She was born in North Shields. They had sons Hilton, Roland Thirlwall and Thirlwall, and a daughter, Vera. Roland was a philanthropist like the rest of his family, and gave the Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade £2000 for a searchlight to help rescuers.

Mr John H. Watson, a founder and later Secretary of the PCHA, established the Newcastle Poor Children’s Holiday Association and Rescue Agency in 1888, to tackle the impact of poverty on children and bring homeless children off the streets (EP 10/75). When on holiday he came up with the idea of taking children from the slum areas of Read more

A Tragedy

We Will Remember Them

We Will Remember Them

 

A few years ago I had to pick up a colleague up in North Broomhill, on our way to a Family History Fair in Berwick. It was on the way towards the A1 that we passed a memorial. Its importance was not known to me at the time. So, on our return journey I had to stop to see what it was about. This story is probably one which is not widely known, except to the locals who visit such a tranquil spot for a walk.

Who would have thought that when they left their billets on 17 January 1945 that 10 of them would not return from a training exercise that day. It had been raining heavily and the river at Guyzance was in flood. Orders were given as they began their river crossing, only for the strong current and fast flowing river to pull their boat across the weir and with their heavy equipment weighing them down ten soldiers all under the age of 19 were drowned.

Those lost were:-

+ L/Cpl. Mark Frederick Fredlieb of Sheffield

Pte. N. Ashton of Castleford

+ Pte. Percy Gibson Clements of West Hartlepool

Pte. E King of Todmorden

+ Pte. Kenneth Lee of Bradford

+ Pte. Alexander Leighton of Annfield Plain  

Pte M M Peddelty of Evenwood

+Pte John W. Wilson of Newcastle

+ Pte Ronald Herbert B. Winteringham of York

Pte. A Yates of Ferryhill

+ indicates that the body was found at the time of the inquest.

 

At the inquest which was held some weeks after the accident some of the bodies still had not been recovered. The inquiry was not to attach blame or bring criminal proceedings against anyone, but to try and make training exercises safer in the future.

Second Lieutenant George Leslie Renills, told the coroner that the exercise was to teach the men on how to handle the boat and not how to cross the river in a tactical manner, they were all inexperienced men in this respect. The boats they were using were made of canvas and wood with a flat wooden floor and considered safe for this type of exercise.

From 0930 to 1000 the men were given instructions in how to handle the boats, then six men and a Non-Commissioned Officer were loaded into the first boat and began crossing the swollen River Coquet.  Whilst Renills was inspecting one of the boats, he realised the first boat was drifting as the men were not paddling correctly! He went to the vicinity and told them how to paddle and climbed into the boat to help them. The river was fast, but had a very smooth surface and he had crossed much worse. When he reached the other side he noticed the second boat was going down stream. He shouted to them to get across and they seemed to be paddling correctly, but drifted sideways and got back to the original side. They drifted towards an over-hanging tree. Two of the men in the rear grabbed some of the overhanging branches. Renills shouted a warning to them about the weir. The branches some of the men were holding onto gave way and the boat began drifting towards the weir. They were all paddling, but not correctly and I shouted at them to jump. One of the soldiers began to take off his equipment. The boat then went over the weir nose first with all of the men out of the boat. I saw five of the men come to the surface and try to swim, but seemed to be pressed down by the force of the water and disappeared. Renills went downstream looking for them.

Sergeant Instructor Leslie Murray, told the Coroner Mr Hugh Percy, that he saw one of the bodies caught in the midstream and being a good swimmer dived in, but was nearly knocked out due to the force of the current. The Coroner returned a verdict – That the men were downed whilst carrying out a military exercise owning to the boat carrying them accidently going over the weir. The jury also added a rider that some lifeguard such as a safety line should be in operation for training purposes.

The MP for the area wrote an article which was published in the Morpeth Herald 18 May 1945, about the tragedy “Eighteen young men who had been in the Army just a month or two, began practicing crossing a river in a wooden structure covered with canvas and very light – and needing very special skill even under more or less normal conditions. But on the day this happened there was one of the biggest floods that there has been for many years. A short distance away from where the accident happened there was a weir. There is a bend in the river and the river in flood takes the weight of the water to the side. Underneath the weir there is an 11ft/12ft drop where there is a pool from which stones were quarried when building it. The weir is about 70 yards long and the pool 30ft to 40ft deep by 30/40ft wide and these lads having been instructed how to paddle over lost control and went over the weir and were drowned.

“There is as, I say no criminal charge and I am not asking for one. But to take young men and give them instructions on how to cross there without placing any qualified person in the boat with them to ensure that they would cross shows there has been a great dereliction of duty.”

A letter was also received from the Secretary of State for War – It is clear that the Officer responsible was guilty of an error of judgement in that he failed to appreciate what risk which was being taken in practising assault boating, with untrained men at this place with the river in flood, but it was held that neither he nor anyone else was guilty of negligence. In training an inexperienced crew it is inevitable that some risks must be taken before they can become proficient, but this risk would certainly have been lessened, as you suggested by stretching a rope across the river above the weir. This has now been done. The letter continues……

 

River Coquet

River Coquet

 

I hope that this article may encourage some more people to visit the site and enjoy its setting, but also to remember those young men.

LEST WE FORGET.

 

This Week in World War One, 8 September 1916

Berwick Advertiser title 1915

 

BERWICK ADVERTISER, 8 SEPTEMBER 1916

 

TWEEDSIDE POET HONOURED

BY

INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE OF BRITISH POETRY

 

Thomas Grey, poet. © Unknown Newcastle-upon-Tyne Photographic Studio

Thomas Grey, poet. © Unknown Newcastle-upon-Tyne Photographic Studio

 

It is with pleasure we announce the election of Mr Thomas Grey, Church Road, Tweedmouth, as a Fellow of the International Institute of British Poetry, and we are sure our readers will join us in congratulating one who has been a regular contributor to our columns upon the well-deserved honour which has come to him unsought.

The Institute was founded in April of this year. Dr Chas. F. Forshaw, F.R.S.I., being the prime mover in the matter and the actual founder of the Institute. The idea of such an Institute had long been with him a cherished ambition, and this year being the Tercentenary of the death of Shakespeare and also the Tercentenary of the death of Cervantes and the centenary of the birth of Charlotte Bronte, he determined to carry it into execution. His experience as an anthologist of more than a generation’s standing had brought him into communication with thousands of poets in all walks of life and with fully a thousand he came into personal contact. Had it not been for the war, the Institute would have made greater progress, but it is safe to say that few could, by their unaided influence, have secured a more representative list of literateurs. The aims of the Institute are many and conducive to human happiness, elevation, learning, and interesting occupation, and full particulars and privileges of Fellowship may be obtained by applicants suitable for election, on application to our worthy townsman, Mr Grey.

 

BERWICK PETTY SESSIONS

TUESDAY

Before David Herriot and Thomas Wilson, Esquires.

 ABSENTEE FROM THE ARMY

James A. Dixon (39), private, 7th N.F., was charged with being an absentee from the Army. He pleaded guilty.

Chief Constable Nicholson explained that a telegram had been received from the officer commanding the Company in which accused was serving to apprehend him, and he was found on the Parade by Constable Spiers.

Constable Spiers deponed that he me the accused on the Parade a 2.45 on the previous day and charged him with being an absentee. The accused replied that he had been waiting in Berwick for a railway pass to take him to his Company, but it had never came.

Chief Constable Nicholson said if the accused had applied to him he would have supplied him with a pass. There had, however, been a considerable amount of trouble with this man.

In answer to Mr Herriot the accused said he was under Major Gillespie’s command. He had been a fortnight out of the hospital at Newcastle, and came to Berwick, where he had been a week.

It was agreed to remand the accused, pending the arrival of a military escort, and to recommend Constable Spiers to the usual award of 5s for apprehending the prisoner.

 

LOCAL NEWS

 

Wreck on the Farnes.- The Norwegian steamer Gustav Vigeland was totally wrecked on the Knavestone Rock, Farne Islands early on Tuesday morning during a northerly gale. The whole of the crew, 21 in number, were landed at Seahouses, 12 by the North Sunderland lifeboat and nine by the Holy Island lifeboat. On landing the crew were taken charge of by the local agent of the Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners’ Royal Benevolent Society, and lodged at the Bamburgh Castle Hotel in the care of Mrs Cuthbertson. The vessel was 1,336 tons net register, owned by Messrs Ellingson and Johnannsen, Bergen, and in the charge of Captain N. J. Nielsen. She was timber laden from Archangel to London. Since December, 1914, North Sunderland lifeboat Foster Fawsett has saved 75 lives. The crew left for Newcastle yesterday on their way home.

Piper Laidlaw, V.C. – On Saturday last the inmates of the Glendale Union Workhouse were entertained by Piper Laidlaw, V.C., who is a present spending a well-earned holiday at his home in Doddington village.

An early photograph of Doddington village in Northumberland, where Piper Laidlaw,lived in 1916. © NRO 5176-33

An early photograph of Doddington village in Northumberland, where Piper Laidlaw,lived in 1916. © NRO 5176-33

 

The company were assembled in the Dining Room, where the gallant piper delighted his audience with selections on the bagpipes and his racy and cheery remarks were equally appreciated. Mr Allan supplemented the soldier’s efforts with selections on the violin. An aged inmate (75 years old), danced a hornpipe in a manner which was really wonderful for one of his age. Miss M. Allan then danced the Highland Fling in excellent style. Piper Laidlaw also visited the sick wards speaking a few kindly words to each patient. Mrs Laidlaw and four children were also present. Mr Fanthorpe (master) proposed a vote of thanks to Piper Laidlaw and the others for their presence, and so kindly entertaining them. Hearty cheers were then given for the Loos hero, his visit having given great delight to all the inmates.

 

THE LATE LIEUT.-COL. FORSTER, FORMERLY OF SANSON SEAL

 

The death is announced a Brunswick House, Exmouh, at the age of 76 of Lieut-Colonel James Edward Forster, formerly of Sanson Seal, Berwick-upon-Tweed.

The late Colonel Forster, a member of an old Berwick family, was born at Berwick-on-Tweed (of which Borough he was a freeman) on 4th 1840, and received his commission as an Ensign in the 3rd Regiment of foot (the Buffs) on 18th March, 1858. He became Lieutenant in June 1862, Captain in August, 1867, and Major in January 1831.

Coat of Arms of The Buffs as inscribed on a grave in Stanley Military Cemetery, Hong Kong.

Coat of Arms of The Buffs as inscribed on a grave in Stanley Military Cemetery, Hong Kong.

 

He served with the regiment in Malta, Gibraltar, the West Indies, Ireland, India, Natal and Singapore, and retired with the honorary rank of Lieutenant Colonel, in September 1881.

He was on active service with the 2nd Battalion throughout the Zulu Campaign in South Africa in 1879, being  present at the battle of Inzeyane and in Elkowe, during the investment there of the late Major General Sir Charles Pearson’s force.

Colonel Forster was mentioned in despatches for his services in that campaign, and received the South African Medal (1879) with clasp.

On retiring from the Army, Colonel Forster resided for a time a Sanson Seal, of which he was owner, but subsequently made his home a Exmouth, where he died.

His departure from the town, as well as that of his sisters, Mr Riddell and Miss Forster, was a considerable loss to the community. He late Colonel’s family was one well known for its beneficence, and all his life Colonel Forster remained a liberal contributor to some of the  most deserving institutions in Berwick. As a landlord he was considerate and just, and his interest in all that appertained to the well-being of his farming tenants was never-failing. He was a fine type of squire, sportsman and citizen, and he came to his end as he wished, his mental activity unabated, and, although suffering from effects of a recent illness, still able to take his part in the circle of friendship which was his in the seaside town in which he was so well known.

Racing pulses – Sports Day at Stannington Sanatorium and Children’s Hospital

Sports day 1957 shown on a temperature chart from a patient's file.

Sports day 1957 shown on a temperature chart from a patient’s file.

Sports Day was one of the biggest days in the Stannington patient’s calendar, and they didn’t come much bigger than that on the 7th September 1957, the 50th Jubile e of the Sanatorium. Sports Day is one of the few occasions we are lucky to have photographs of from different decades at Stannington, and though the events on the day must have varied through the years, we can use our records to find out a little of how they went. Below is a programme from the 1949 Sports Day, fortunately saved for us as it was accidentally included in a patient’s file.

Programme from the 1949 Sports day, accidentally included in a patient's file.

Programme from the 1949 Sports day, accidentally included in a patient’s file.

The day began with the fancy dress parade. The patients dressed up in a huge variety of costumes, and the event was immensely popular among the patients. It even proved a draw for those who had left. We have a letter included in a patient file asking if a former patient could return for the fancy dress ball and Sports Day. The parent said he ‘talked of nothing else but the fancy dress ball which is being held at the hospital in September’ asking if she could bring him ‘on the great day’. Sadly as at other times no children were allowed as visitors, Sports Day was a treat for the patients only.

Then the races began, which usually included the classic children’s Sports Day races like the egg and spoon race and sack race. Many of the children took the competition quite seriously. On the morning of the 1958 Sports Day a child was practicing running, and, unfortunate in choosing the veranda of Brough ward as a practice track, fell and cut their arm on the glass in the window.

The staff also competed in races, with a race for the nursing and domestic staff, and the programme shows there was a tug of war between the Hospital staff and the farm staff. Though the Farm Colony no longer existed by this time it is interesting to see a link was still kept with the farm. In the bottom of the 3 video clips below some of the staff can be seen participating in sack and running races, perhaps suggesting they took the competition as seriously as the children did.

However the jubilee year of the Sanatorium and Hospital in 1957 aimed to eclipse previous sports days. Though we have no programme of the day, fortunately for us it was recorded for posterity on a cine camera by Tom Temple, and deposited with us (V434). Tom was a market gardener by profession, inheriting the family business with his brother and producing vegetables like cabbages, sprouts, cauliflower, leeks, turnips, beetroot, and potatoes, as well as herbs, grain, rhubarb and gooseberries. He also acted as a Special Constable until the age of 70, and was awarded the Queen’s Medal for his service. However Tom’s hobby was cine film photography, and he took his camera everywhere, with sons Clive and Geoff in tow to carry his equipment. He filmed subjects such as the River Wansbeck from source to mouth, and would give shows of his films and talks at events and for groups such as the Rotary Club. Tom preferred to choose colourful subjects, and this is definitely the case with the Stannington Children’s Hospital Jubilee film. You can learn more about Tom’s family in his son Clive’s oral history (ref: T/722), and a number of his other films are deposited with Northumberland Archives. We have taken three sections of the 13 minute film to show some of the highlights of the 1957 Sports Day.

As in 1949 the day began with the fancy dress parade, and even bed-bound patients could dress up. Beds were brought out onto verandas, and we see other children lying on small beds on the grass. Judging must have been difficult, as the costumes were very inventive. There was often a topical nature to them, such as a little girl on the film who came dressed as Stannington’s 50th birthday cake.

Here we see all of the usual content of a Sports Day, as mentioned above, with children’s races, staff races, and pillow fights, with the inclusion of a bean bag race. The House Committee minutes for the 17th June 1957 show they planned to hire a band (the Morpeth Pipe Band are shown in the full footage) to provide incidental music, and tea parties would be given on the wards for patients and their parents, with others in the dining room for the committee and visitors. They also planned to include the usual fancy dress parade, races, and a parents’ race. Slideshows were given (perhaps these were also by Tom Temple?) and the patients were provided with ice cream and lemonade. The League of Friends decided to make a gift of a five shilling piece to each child in honour of the jubilee. The House Committee also planned to commemorate the jubilee year with a staff dance at the end of October.

The House Committee minutes for the 16th September decided that the Jubilee Sports Day had been:

“most successful and [the committee] resolved that thanks be recorded to members of the staff and all that had contributed to its success. It was further agreed that the secretary convey to the various organisations – League of Friends, Toc H, Round Table, Ladies circle, W.V.S., and Morpeth Pipe Band – grateful thanks for their generous co-operation and to Mr. T. Temple for his kindness in filming the proceedings.” HOSP/STAN/1/2/8

You can watch the whole 13 ½  minutes of Tom Temple’s footage of the Jubilee Sports Day on our online exhibition.