Archive for February 2017

This Week in World War One, 24 February 1917








The following circular has been issued from the General Manager’s Office, York, of the North Eastern Railway Company:-

Arrangements have now been made under which all railwaymen who desire to do so will be permitted to join the Volunteer Force. For this purpose the staff will be divided into two classes as indicated below:-

  • Those whom it would be possible to liberate from their railway duties in the event of an emergency such as an invasion, will, as in the past, be permitted to take up full responsibilities of membership (including the requirement as to putting in a specified amount of training and drill) as Volunteers in the ordinary sections (i.e., Section A, men not of military age, and Section B, men of military age).
  • The rest of the staff, whom it would not be possible to liberate, will, nevertheless, be permitted to join a special section of the Volunteer Force known as Section R. members of this section will not be called out for actual military service, even in an emergency such as an invasion, without the consent of the company.

The North Eastern Railway headquarters in York built by Horace Field in 1906, now a hotel. © Photograph taken by Mattbuck. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.


It should be clearly understood by all railwaymen who join the Volunteer Force (whether in the ordinary sections A or B, or in the special section) that they will not in any case be required by the Volunteer Force or allowed by the railway company to attend any training or drill which would interfere with the proper performance of their railway duties.

Members of the staff who desire to join the Volunteer Force should make application to the head of their department for the necessary permission. Every man so applying will be given by the company a special certificate on Army Form  V.4006 authorising his enrolment either as a full member of the Force (Section A or B) or as a member of the special section R, and this certificate should be handed at the time of enrolment to the officer commanding the Volunteer Battalion.

Permission to enrol as a full member of the force will be given wherever possible, and in those cases in which it is necessarily withheld, permission will be given to enrol in Section R.



Berwick Corn Exchange Company Limited- The annual report states: – The Directors have pleasure in submitting their annual report, and congratulate the shareholders on the result of the year’s working. Owing to the lighting restrictions, the hall has not been used for theatrical or concert purposes during the year, and the amounts received from rents has consequently been small. The increased charges which came into force in January last resulted in a substantial rise in the revenue from stalls, and the receipts from other sources have been well maintained. The profits for the year is £260 14s 1d, which, with £27 2s 10d brought forward, leaves an available sum of £287 16s 11d. The usual dividend for five per cent, is recommended, less income tax, which will absorb £155 8s 4d, carrying £75 to reserve fund (thereby raised to £500), and the balance, £57 8s 7d, to next account. The directors who retire by rotation are Mr Short, Mr Herriot, and Mr Smail, all of whom are eligible for re-election.

Image from the Berwick Advertiser 4 December 1858, opening of the newly erected Corn Exchange, Berwick-upon-Tweed.


Football. – Quite an interesting game was witnessed on the Belford football ground on Thursday of last, week the competing teams being Belford and Northern Cyclists Signallers. The condition of the ground was rather unfavourable; still, the play on both sides was good. Little life was shown at opening of the game, but suddenly the soldiers set to with a will and kept the defenders busy. A corner, taken by Cyclist Hilton, proved fruitless, the Belford goal keeper making a smart save. Eventually the soldiers opened the scoring, Cyclist Burrows securing a point from a good pass by Cyclist Whitby. Shortly afterwards Lieut. Clapperton with a very fine shot sent the ball home, and just before half time Cyclist Burrows scored. A half-time the score stood as follows: – Solders- 3 goals, Belford – nil. In second half Belford showed great improvement. Lance- Corporal Rogers broke through the defence with a really excellent shot, registering for Belford one goal. Some very fast play was shown towards the close, but Belford was fairly outclassed, the final; result being – Soldiers – 4 goals, Belford – 1 goal. Quite a decent number of interested people were present.

Startling Discovery in Bridge Street Baker’s Premises. – An unusual and gruesome discovery was made the other day in excavating the premises of Mrs Thompson, baker, Bridge Street, Berwick, when the front portion of a human skull was unearthed only a few inches below the kitchen floor. Workmen were engaged in building a new oven at the time the startling relic of humanity was found. The kitchen floor has immediately underneath it a few inches of earth, and below that again there are stone slabs. It was between the slabs and the wooden floor that the skull was unearthed. Several teeth were in the upper jaw, and looked very fresh, and in perfect condition. There were two other bones discovered, and one of these appeared to be a rib bone. When or how the skull came to be placed in the spot it was discovered is a matter of conjecture, but it would appear that before this could have been done the flooring must have been lifted and re-laid. Mr John Bishop, Scott’s Place, obtained possession of the skull, and those who may be curious to have a view of same can do so by communicating with that gentleman. It is doubtful to say to which sex the cranium belonged.




On Friday afternoon last a sale of work and concert was held in the Girls’ National School, Tweedmouth, under the patronage of the Mayor and Mayoress. The schoolroom was packed with a highly appreciative audience, chiefly composed of the mothers and other relatives of the children, admission being by ticket. The Vicar (Rev. P .G. Peacocke) announced at the opening of the concert that as the proceeds of the day were to be devoted to charitable objects. viz:- The Guild of Aid, Prisoners of War Fund, and the local Smoke Fund, no tax would be levied, thus allowing the full amount received to be used in the channels mentioned. The articles offered for sale before the concert were nearly all made by the children during the past winter months and comprised a varied assortment of artistic sewing work in the shape of dolls clothes, and other ornamental knickknacks for home decoration, some others being of a more useful character, all however, commanded a ready sale.

The former National Girls School, Tweedmouth, now private accommodation.


An interesting item in the proceedings was a guessing competition over the name of a neatly dressed doll given by Jeanie Short, the doll to go to the one who guessed its name. Each guess cost one halfpenny, and to show how keen the competition was, the sum of £1 2s was gambled away in half-pennies, and as Miss Helyer put it – the doll had proved a golden egg; yet out of 528 who had been so prodigal with their coppers, not one was correct. The choosing of the name fell to the Mayoress, and on the envelope being opened in the schoolroom, it was found to be “Hope,” the first part of the name of the residence of the Mayor and Mayoress, viz. :- “Hopeville.” Their being 528 disappointed ones somewhere, Mrs Plenderleith kindly handed the coveted doll back to its little mistress, Jeanie Short, who received it with smiles.

The Creevey Papers

Thomas Creevey


Thomas Creevey was born in Liverpool in 1768, allegedly the son of William Creevey, a Liverpool merchant, he is believed by some to have been the illegitimate son of Charles William, 1st Earl of Sefton. After graduating from Queens College, Cambridge in 1789 he was called to the bar in 1794. In 1802 he married Eleanor Ord, the Widow of William Ord a Northumberland Landowner and M.P. for Newcastle, and daughter of Charles Brandling of Gosforth. Eleanor was also a distant cousin of Charles Grey and a friend of the Prince of Wales. A socially and politically advantageous match, it was no coincidence that in the year of his marriage, Creevey also became M.P. for Thetford.

Creevey was a Whig and a follower of Charles James Fox. In 1806, when the brief “All the Talents” ministry was formed, he was given the office of secretary to the Board of Control. In 1830, when next his party came into power, Creevey, who had lost his seat in Parliament, was appointed treasurer of the ordnance; and subsequently Lord Melbourne made him treasurer of Greenwich Hospital (1834).

Although he had a distinguished political career, Creevey is better remembered for the time he spent away from Britain. In 1814 he and his then very unwell wife, left England for Brussels where they were to spend the next five years. It was during this time that Creevey was to come to know the Duke of Wellington, and to have the distinction of being the first civilian to interview him after the Battle of Waterloo. It was during that interview that Wellington made his famous assessment of the battle “It has been a damned nice thing. The nearest run thing you ever saw in your life.”




Creevey had intended to write a history of the times he lived in, and apparently to that end collected and saved his own voluminous correspondence. He was a man of some considerable charm and this along with his intellect, meant many of the leading political figures of the day valued his company. As such he was afforded an uncommon degree of intimacy with them. His wife died in 1818 leaving Creevey with very scant means of his own. However, his popularity meant that his friends often looked after him although it was noted by Charles Cavendish Fulke Greville in 1829 “old Creevey is a living proof that a man may be perfectly happy and exceedingly poor. I think he is the only man I know in society who possesses nothing.”


Creevey’s “Execrable” handwriting.


Creevey died in 1838 and was largely forgotten to history. His papers were consigned to the attic of Whitfield Hall in Northumberland, after having passed to his stepdaughter Elizabeth Ord. As well as his correspondence, the papers include his journals, many were faithfully kept by Elizabeth, indeed she saw fit to transcribe many of them in her own hand. An act that has been much praised by those who have studied Creevey’s papers who describe his own writing, without exception, as “simply execrable”. However, Creevey is also known to have kept a copious diary covering 36 years of his life, but it was apparently destroyed sometime after his death by friends fearing exposure of the contents.

A chance enquiry during a tour of the house in 1900 led to the publication of ‘The Creevey Papers’. These two volumes captured the late Georgian era with sparkling political and social gossip and an almost Pepysian outspokenness, and they took London by storm. No one described more graphically the appearance, or recorded more faithfully the looks and the talk, of the royal personages and major politicians of the time. Not least among his humorous touches is the extensive use of nicknames for many of the major personages of the day, “Prinney” for George IV; “Beelzebub” for Henry Brougham; “Madagascar” for Lady Holland and “the beau” for the Duke of Wellington. Others include “Og of Bashan” “King Jog” “King Tom” “Niffy Naffy” “Slice” “Snip” and “Clunch,”.


A summary of royalties for the publication of The Creevey Papers.


The Creevey Papers are held by Northumberland Archives as part of the Blackett-Ord Family of Whitfield Collection. Due to its large size there is a huge amount of material not included in the original ‘The Creevey Papers’ publication, or its subsequent iterations. It’s likely that further exploration of the material could yield even more from this extraordinary record of a man’s life through a turbulent time in history.

This Week in World War One, 9 February 1917







We have favoured with the above recent photo of Rough Riding Sergeant Mathew McConville Burke, Royal Field Artillery, who has been awarded, as already briefly reported, the Russian Order of the 4th Class of St. George. We understand he has also been awarded a Serbian Order for meritorious service in the field. When he was Corporal prior to the outbreak of war, he was a prominent Fencing Instructor to the troops. He was seen considerable service on several fronts, and is a well-known and popular figure in the borough. Sergeant Burke, who in his early soldering days was for a long period trumpeter on the Artillery Permanent Staff at Berwick, is the son of Mrs Rose Ann Burke, West End, Tweedmouth. He married an estimable young lady, who will be well-known to Berwick readers, a grand-daughter of the late Mr Patrick Davis, West Street, Berwick.




The Playhouse – This week the film will be “A Butterfly on the Wheel”, from the play by E. C. Hemmerde and Francis Neilson, in five reels. When produced at the Globe theatre in 1911 it achieved an instantaneous success, being revived later at the Queen’s theatre, where it enjoyed an equal measure of popularity. There is an excellent and captivating variety entertainment. On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, the film will be entitled “Jimmy,” by John Strange Winter. It reflects British life with a fidelity unknown, breathes the home spirit, and the story is told amid correct surroundings.

Lobby card for the American film “A Butterfly on the Wheel” (1915). © Schubert Films (Pre-1923) – Wikimedia Commons.


On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of next week the picture will be “Hesperia, the Lady of the Camellias”, a masterly version of one of Dumas novels. It is the most famous love story written in modern times. The attention of the public is specially directed to another film also to be shown on the same evenings – “How to Help Tommy.” It has been specially authorised by the War Office showing the work of the Voluntary Organisation Department. The film shows how every class and age is helping to provide comforts for the men who are fighting. The Boy Scouts will make a collection at the door of each house in aid of the local work. Genie Glenn, a dainty comedienne and refined soprano vocalist, will provide an excellent variety programme.

Free meals for Soldiers and Sailors. – The Committee in charge of the fund for providing free meals for soldiers and sailors who are compelled to remain overnight at Berwick owing to lack of train connections, deserve the highest praise for the work which has already been accomplished. The fund, which was inaugurated by Lady Clementine Waring of Lennel, and Mrs Fraser Bate, Bassendean, has up to the end of January, 1917, provided no less than 3,135 free meals.

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


Nightly a patrol meet the last train from the south, and after the wants of the man or men coming by such train have been cared for, a bed is found for the night, and next morning before leaving, breakfast is provided. In this good work the railway officials give great assistance in seeing that any man “stranded” for the night is looked after. Naturally, such an organisation as this costs a considerable amount of money to keep in working order, and when it is remembered that the men who benefit and appreciate its efforts are soldiers and sailors mostly from Northumberland and Berwickshire, it has a greater claim to the support of the public. We trust that the work of the Committee will continue in the future to bring cheer and comfort to our serving men as it has done in the past.




The other day, somewhere in France, a grand competition was inaugurated by the Y.M.C.A. workers at a large centre. Prizes were offered for the best love letter, for the best poem modelled on “John Gilpin”, written about the Y.M.C.A., and for the best ten minutes speech. Great interest was taken in the competitions, and there were many entries, and great excitement reigned in the huts as the day for the declaration of results drew near. The first prize in each class was won by a Berwick man, Leslie P. Gleig, Royal Engineers, for the best following poems, and for a brilliant ten minutes speech on “The Mule.”

Sapper Leslie F Gleig, the subject of our sketch came to Berwick from Newcastle some six years ago, and was employed as a plumber and gas fitter with N.E. Railway, he having served the company from his days of apprenticeship. He is a fluent speaker, and in the Socialist cause did yeoman service on platform and in the work of organisation. His work as secretary to the local branch of the I. L.P. has been greatly appreciated, while in the Berwick Debating Society he earned for himself an honoured place. For many years he was a member of the Newcastle Chess Club, and was an enthusiastic follower of the game. From the outbreak of war he was anxious to enlist, but it was only in December 1915 that the Company agreed to liberate him, he then enlisting in the Royal Engineers. His training was done in Yorkshire, and while there he won the certificate and bronze medal of the Royal Life Saving Society for the rescue from drowning test, only one other man in the Battalion winning this.

The following is the “love letter” which earned the prizes for Sapper Gleig:-

Dear lady, in that land across the sea,

Which I for duty’s sake have left awhile,

This loving letter that I send to thee,

Perchancer may draw a tear or win a smile.

Which of these tributes, sweet, would be my choice

I know not, for thy tender smile of yore

When I did greet thee, made my heart rejoice

And lose itself in loving more and more.

But if a tear should dim those eyes so kind,

At thought of me far travelled from thy side,

And if some sadness shall o’ercast the mind,

Because our destinies are thus divide,

That tear to me a greater price would bear

Than wealth of sparking jewels, rich and rare.

For I do treasure every fleeting thought

My gracious lady does on me bestow,

None other can supplant her, there is nought

Of inspiration that I do not owe

To that sweet mistress of my soul, for i

Unworthy though I am to be her slave,

Do yet among all men my head bear high;

For that she deigned accept the love I gave,

Dear sweetheart mine, my love can ne’er be tod,

It is a well of happiness and trust.

A treasure house of joy as pure as gold,

Hat in the fire of life will never rust;

Much honoured I, that I thy name may sign

Thy favoured lover true, as thou art mine.


Putting the project to bed – what the Stannington Sanatorium project has achieved

Over the course of the two phases of our Wellcome Trust funded project we have catalogued, conserved and digitised over 5000 patient medical files, as well as other records and photographs. In this time we hope we have taken an inaccessible, uncatalogued collection and made it accessible to study. In our final blog we will take a look back at what we have done in that time.

Some of the boxes of files waiting to be conserved early last year

Phase one conserved and digitised 949 discharge books, catalogued these, the patient files and the rest of the collection, and digitised a whopping 14671 radiographs (taken of only 2245 of the patients!). The team also created our online exhibition, our exhibition banners, and attended conferences to publicise the collection. You can read more about the first phase in the team’s final blog here.

The radiographs being digitised

After the Wellcome trust kindly granted more funding for a second phase new team focused on the 4095 patient files, which had been catalogued.

A patient file conserved in its new acid-free cover

A patient file ready to be digitised


We conserved and digitised these, and redacted images were attached to our searchable online database. As they are closed records the names and addresses cannot be released, but this enables those researching the disease to access medical information about the cases for the ‘core’ documents. Here is how these look.

Print screens of the search and reference detail

As we could not digitise the entire files in each case the team decided to upload some examples on Flickr. Though there is no such thing as a ‘typical’ or ‘average’ Stannington file, we tried to choose a few redacted examples of the patient files that gave an impression of the collection as a whole, and the type of documents found within them. You can view these here.

The work began in phase one to raise awareness of the collection has continued. We have continued to blog about our progress and discoveries we have made about the collection, the sanatorium itself, and new collections that relate to it, such as May Brown’s the Atkin family’s photographs. There has been academic interest in research projects using the collection from a number of universities, which we hope to will continue to grow.

Our former colleague Rebecca Cessford is using the collection of radiographs and patient files in her PhD thesis to look at the potential as an aid to diagnose the disease in skeletal remains. You can find out more about her research in the blog she contributed to us on World Tuberculosis Day.

Margaret Wilkinson (right) with Dame Sian Philips at the recording of the play.

We also worked with playwright Margaret Wilkinson, who used the collection and our research to write a radio play for BBC Four’s Writing the Century. The play was based on the experiences of former Stannington Sanatorium nurse Marjorie Wilson. Margaret established the scene with Marjorie’s reminiscences, and used excerpts from letters within the patient files. The play was a great success, and listeners found the performance very moving. You can read more about Margaret’s inspiration in writing the play in the blog she wrote for us, and you can listen to the play through Audioboom.

We hope to continue further interest in the collection by launching an education resource, now available through our website. In this we have laid out a little summary of the disease, history, treatment and the records at Stannington, and what life was like for staff and patients. This can be used as a resource for teachers to dip into in developing lessons, but also for older students to use for themselves.

The exhibition on display at St. Mary’s Church, Stannington.

Recently the team have also set up our collection of banners at St Mary’s church in Stannington, with the Stannington History Group. It was a wonderful finish to the project to see them displayed so close to the sanatorium itself, with locals and visitors finding out more about the story of Stannington Sanatorium. We hope to tour the exhibition more throughout this year.

The project has revealed the rich value of the collection in terms of its research potential, as it contains files with detailed medical information and an excellent radiographic record. However it is also rich in the stories of the staff and patients who were associated with the sanatorium, many of whom have recounted their experiences to us during its course. We feel proud to continue to care for the documents, and feel it is important to continue to raise awareness. Far from this being the end of our research with the collection, this is a beginning of a new and more accessible way of learning from them.

The collection itself is housed at Northumberland Archives, and though a hundred year closure period is still in place (from the date of the document’s creation), former patients and some immediate family can still seek permission to access the patient files. If you are interested in accessing the collection for research purposes (we have statistics on the records as well as the files themselves), are interested in loaning our banners exhibition, or have any other queries about the collection please don’t hesitate to contact us at

NRO 11036/3, one of May Brown’s photographs

If you are interested to know more please have a look at:

Our online exhibition

Our Flickr sets