Archive for April 2017

This Week in World War One, 20 April 1917







Information has been received by his wife in Berwick that Private F. Crow, K.O.S.B.’s has been wounded in the left-arm and right thigh, and has been sent to hospital. The chaplain (the Rev. R. W Hopkins) in a letter remarks that “there is no reason why he should not get on well. He will very soon be in England and there is no cause for anxiety.” Private Crow is a painter to trade and for a number of years was employed in the painting department of Messrs Wm. Elder and Sons Implement Works.

An early twentieth century image of William Elder’s engineering works in Berwick. Private F. Crow worked in the painting department with Elder’s for a number of years. © Berwick Record Office, BRO 1944-1-2661-17.


Latterly he was employed with Mr Gilchrist, painter, etc, in West Street. Private Crow joined under the Derby Scheme in September last. He was trained at Duddingston, and went to France on 15th January.




Death of an Old Berwick Ship Captain. – Death has this week removed one of the old-time Berwick ship captains in the person of Mr Thomas Ormston, at the ripe old age of 80 years. In days when Berwick port was of much importance, Captain Ormston had command successively of the late Mr Andrew Thompson’s schooners – the “Tweed” and the “Maggie,” for a long time sailing to continental and other ports. He was a freeman of Berwick, being “made free” in the year 1858. He has lived in retirement for a number of years.

Good Work to the Soldiers Recognised. – For seven years Mrs Highgate has carried on almost useful and philanthropic work at her residence on the Quay Walls on behalf of the social and moral advancement of the soldiers in Berwick. Owing to advancing years she has been compelled to relinquish her good efforts, and is on the eve of leaving the town for Dunoon. The Mayor and Mayoress, supported by a few friends who are fully alive to the great and good work Mrs Highgate has accomplished, fittingly resolved that she should receive some small token of appreciation to mark her stay and labours in the Border town, and a presentation ceremony was somewhat hurriedly arranged to take place in the Council Chamber on Tuesday evening. The proceedings were of a private character, and of brief duration. His Worship the Mayor presided, there were also present the Mayoress, Mr Thos. Wilson, who acted as treasurer; Ald. A. Logan, Mr and Mrs J. Strachan, Mrs T. Purves, Miss C. E. Purvis, Miss Richardson, Miss Paxton, Mrs McCreath (senior), and a friend, Mr and Mrs Alex. Steven. In a neat and appropriate speech the Mayor made the presentation, consisting of a marble clock, on which a suitable inscription is to be placed. Mrs Highgate made a feeling and suitable response, alluding to the pleasure and great interest her work among the soldiers had given her. Several others spoke of the great good that had resulted from Mrs Highgate’s work, bearing testimony to the unselfish and disinterested manner in which she had always carried these out.

The Poultry Demonstration Train on the N.E. Railway. – The poultry demonstration train on tour on the North Eastern railway in Durham this month is meeting with great success, and the demonstrations that will follow in Northumberland are being looked forward to with considerable interest. The train consists of four coaches, and is replete with the latest poultry-culture appliances, comprising, among other things, incubators of various types, brooders, trap-nests, egg-boxes, egg-testing lamps, cramming machine, and models of poultry-houses. The different kinds of foods suitable for poultry, as well as a pen of pullets illustrating the way in which fowls are kept on the intensive system, are other features of the exhibition. The train is accompanied by lecturers and demonstrators. Wooler is to be visited on 1st May, Chathill 4th May, and Tweedmouth 5th May.






A thrilling story of the Vimy Ridge battle is told by a former resident of Darlington, now serving with the machine Guns Corps and attached to one of the Canadian Battalions. In an interview he said;-

A British dug fighting tunnel in Vimy sector, WW1. GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2. Wikimedia Commons.

“It was hell for the Germans, heaven for us. Hell for them because our big guns had been at it for hours powdering the strongest earth works to dust and reducing the men to jelly. The immediate effect was to put a severe strain on nerves all round. A thrill of joy and relief ran through our ranks when the gun fire died down, and the infantry began to liven up. It was heaven for us because we felt that at last we were to have a chance of avenging hundreds of loved comrades who had been killed in more or less fair fights in this region or poisoned by foul gas.

“Many of the men in my battalion were Northerners. They had relations and friends in the Northern regiment such as the Northumberland Fusiliers, which had fought so well over this very ground just a year ago. To my dying day I will never forget how our lads charged. They were absolutely irresistible. They paid not the slightest attention to the gust of shell-fire and machine gun bullets, in the teeth of which they had to advance. They laughed at death and wounds, and swept onward and upward in one great avenging avalanche.

“Ten yards from the German parapet the foe were found awake to their danger. They came streaming out of their lairs firing into the grey morning with all kinds of weapons. Our Canadians gave a cheer, and dashed at the foe exultingly. The first enemy line went down like a puppet before a half-ton ball. We dashed over the dead and wounded, and bounded into the trench.

“Here we found the Huns making desperate efforts to pull themselves together. We flung ourselves on them before they could muster force enough to stop us, and while they were doing the “Mercy, Kamerad” dance other parties of ours were streaming over the crest and down the slope to meet the oncoming reserves. There was no holding our lads back. They swept eagerly forward, and very soon had the whole of the ground in their hands.

Tied to the land – serfs from manorial history

Through our manorial research we often come across references to serfdom, the ancient custom where people were owned by the lord of the manor. Though a complicated picture unfree people at this time largely fell into two types – villeins or bondsmen, who were unfree tenants that had some rights of inheritance over their home and land, and serfs, who were personally unfree. Some had far fewer rights and freedoms than others, and these are often hard to define as manorial structure differed from manor to manor.

After the Black Death the remaining workforce was in demand, and both groups were able to acquire better rights. This meant that in most places these sorts of ties to the land and the lord died out. However serfs could still be found in the 14th and 15th century in Woodhorn, Seaton, Hurst, Newbiggin and the barony of Mitford. These people formed the backbone of the manorial system, but leave very little trace in the historical record. However in the course of our research for our Manor Authority files (see this previous blog for how this is done) we sometimes find their names given, a fantastic insight into ordinary people’s lives in the medieval period. We will be looking at examples we have come across that help explain the lives of unfree serfs and bondsmen in Northumberland’s manors, and show what services to the lord of the manor were expected of them.

A representation of a medieval manor


Some serfs were made and some were born. Roger Maudut claimed Ralph le Lorimer as his ‘nief’. This is a term for a type of serf, from old French, and is often Read more

This Week in World War One, 6 April 1917






Northumberland Policemen’s War Bonus. – At a meeting at the Moot Hall, Newcastle, on Monday, of the Standing Joint Committee for Northumberland – Ald. T. Taylor presiding – an application was received for an addition to the 5s awarded in July last as a war bonus to police officers below the rank of superintendent. It was decided to give 1s a week for each child below the age of 14 of a married officer. There are over 300 children below the age, and the amount voted will represent an expenditure of about £800 per annum.

Soldiers Clear the Berwickshire Snow-bound Roads. – The extremely severe frost in Berwickshire on Monday morning was followed on Monday evening by a heavy fall of snow, accompanied by a stiff north-easterly gale, which caused much drifting. Roads were blocked in every direction. In view of the fact that lambing is now well begun in half-bred hirsels in the hill districts, the situation was viewed with much anxiety by flockmasters. There was a marked rise of temperature on Tuesday, and the snow melted as it fell. In the Berwick district all main roads were more or less blocked by the heavy fall of snow, which in certain exposed parts had been formed into large wreaths by the strong wind. After considerable difficulty the Edinburgh and Paxton road was got clear. The Duns and Belford roads suffered most, and as labourers were impossible to be obtained the authorities appealed to the military for help in having the main south road opened for traffic. As a result, the Commanding Officer of the Royal Scots very kindly placed a squad of men at the disposal of the authorities, and in the course of Tuesday the road was made passable. The action of the military in such an emergency was greatly appreciated by the general public.

The Food Controller has issued an order by which the annual total output of beer in the United Kingdom is limited to 10,000,000 barrels as compared with the 26,000,000 barrels allowed for the year ending the 31st March, 1916. At the same time the supply of wines and spirits that may be taken out of bond, is reduced by 50 per cent, of the amount taken out in 1916.

The Volunteers. – The next drill of the Berwick Volunteers will take place on Thursday, weather permitting, at the Stanks. Some 200 men have now enrolled, and an invitation is extended to all eligible recruits to join at once, so as to complete the necessary strength of 250.

The Stanks, Berwick-upon-Tweed (c) BRO 2103-6-32


Berwickshire Naturalists’ Club and Railway Travelling. – Having regard to the appeal

made by the Government that, in view of the grave and critical state of the country, the public should refrain from all unnecessary railway travelling and practise every economy, and to the practical difficulties in arranging and attending meetings under the present conditions, the officers of the Club, after mature consideration, have resolved to intermit all field meetings for this season. They have deemed it expedient, however, to hold the annual business meeting in October, of which due intimation will be given.






Castle Terrace,

Berwick-on –Tweed,

4th April, 1917

Sir, – The members of the Patriotic Committee have asked me to write a letter regarding a project we have in view for the raising of funds in aid of various war charities, in hope that you would be good enough to insert in this week’s edition of your paper.

It seemed to us that we might make some money out of the gathering and sale of waste paper, which has hitherto been an almost untapped source of revenue in Berwick. A beginning has already been made privately in the Town, and with united effort, we hope to raise a goodly sum to help the many war charities, which claim our sympathy, and among them our own Guild of Aid, Surgical Depot, etc.

I need Your Waste-Poster


We would be glad to receive the names of any ladies or gentlemen willing to assist in the sorting and packing and would be obliged if these could be handed in to any of the undermentioned ladies by Tuesday, 10th April, at latest. These ladies will also receive gratefully promises of papers, and will give any information required. Mrs Steven, Stecarven; Miss Caverhill, 2 Ravensdowne; Miss Dixon, Marlborough House, Spittal; Miss Mason, Shielfield Terrace, Tweedmouth, or myself.

Thanking you in anticipation

Yours Sincerely


President of Patriotic Fund.





Supt. Bolton informed the magistrates that in the case of Foreman, butcher, who had been sentenced to two months’ imprisonment, the option being that he should join a labour battalion, that he had done his best to enlist, and after going to and from the barracks for a fortnight the military had declined to take him. For one thing Foreman was considerably over age. He asked for an order to commit him to prison as this was the alternative to enlisting.

Mr Darling – Men considerably over 47 have gone to make roads in France. I will communicate regarding Foreman and see if he can be taken.

Supt. Bolton – I hope he can, it would be the best thing that could happen to him.

Capt. Tippinge – I should think he has been at considerable expense going out and in to the Barracks.

Supt. Bolton – I daresay he has been enjoying himself as well. (Laughter).

Mr Plendeleith – Have they a settled age for the labour battalion.

Supt. Bolton –  They must have, except in the case of old soldiers. They will take the latter up to any age.

Case adjourned for a month.