Archive for Northumberland Archives

This Week in World War One, 22 February 1918

 

 

 

BERWICK ADVERTISER, 22 FEBRUARY 1918

 

HOME ON LEAVE

 

We are pleased to see home on leave from France, Gunner G. P. Pringle, Tank Corps, a Murton lad. He has had some trying times, but looks fit and well. Gunner Pringle was one of the crew of a disabled Tank, but luckily he escaped with only a few scratches, while his comrades fell at his side. We wish him every good wish and best luck until he finally returns. When on leave he had the pleasure of meeting his brother Richard, whom he had not seen for some eighteen months. Driver Richard Pringle enlisted at the time when his parents received the news of another brother’s death in July 1916. Mr and Mrs Pringle have every reason to be proud of their family’s record. All three lads were born at Berwick-on-Tweed.

Looking the picture of health, we are pleased to see Dispatch Rider John Logan, son of Mr. Adam Logan Lloyds Agent, Berwick, home on a leave from France. He joined up in the

WW1 Bronze Star

early stages of the war and there being great need at the time for dispatch riders he was almost immediately drafted into France. He took part in the trying engagements at the beginning of the campaign and was attached to the Indian Cavalry. Cyclist Logan is one of the local men who are qualified for the 1914 Bronze Star and he proudly wears the ribbon which signifies his connection with the “Old Contemptables.” We understand he has been recalled for duty and there is a possibility of his being sent East. We are sure his many friends in the borough will wish him every success and the best of good luck in the future.

 

LOCAL NEWS

 

A little amusement was occasioned in the early part of the week by a joke perpetrated by some local humourist. People passing the old stocks at the Town Hall were surprised to find a recumbent figure assuming every air of penitence pilloried in the orthodox fashion. Closer examination proved that the figure was not of the flesh and a message was sent to the military authorities who removed it to its proper quarter. To save any misapprehensions we may state that it was one of the stuffed dummies used for bayonet practice by the troops in training at the Barracks.

The Royal National Life-Boat Institution has just sent a new and powerful Motor Life-Boat to the Tynemouth Station, to replace the Motor Life-Boat which has been stationed there since 1911 and has saved 68 lives since then. The new life-boat was built by Messrs. S. E. Saunders Ltd., of Cowes, Isle of Wight, and is of the self-righting type, 40ft long by 10ft. 6ins beam with a 40 B. H. P. Tylor Motor and Gardner. Reverse Gear installed. The boat bears the name “Henry Frederick Swan” in accordance with the wishes expressed by Mrs. Lowes of Bath, who has presented the boat to the Institution.

While senior footballers are playing a sterner game on foreign fields, local juniors are doing their best to keep fit for the world struggle likely to come after hostilities end.

Almost weekly teams of juveniles are meeting and if the results do resemble a cricket score it shows at least that they are playing the game strenuously. Last week two games were played. Messrs W. Elder & Sons’ lads received a beating on Saturday to the tune of five goals to nil at the hands of Spittal Hearts, while Mr Peacocks’ school boys on Thursday waltzed home over the British School team by 8 goals to nil.

 

WRECK ON THE HOLY ISLE

 

Not much happens on the Holy Isle to disturb the even tenor of its life. When, however, the gun from the lifeboat calling its crew to immediate services, suddenly strikes the air, life is electrified into action. Last Monday, just before noon, the Island had, once again, that experience. All that could be gathered from the Coastguard was, that a small sailing ketch was on the Castle-head rocks which skirt the northern beach. One drew comfort from the consideration that, although the sea was rough, it was by no means wild.

In a very short time a large crowd were gathered round the lifeboat; nine-tenths of whom were the active womenfolk belonging to the fishing homes. That they had not come as curious spectators was soon apparent by the orderly manner in which they, seizing the towing ropes, and headed by the Vicar, hauled the boat down the beach and into the water; daunted no way by the waves, and never desisting till they knew she was properly afloat. There could not have been a finer snapshot than that launching of the “Lizzie Porter,” a most worthy subject for the pencil of any artist. The Vicar remarked, when the service rendered by the women was referred to, so many men were away to the mine-sweeping, that if it were not for the women of the Island, no lifeboat could be launched.

An early photograph of a Holy Island lifeboat (c) BRO 2333-007

The motor boat being afloat in the harbour, and the sea not being insurmountable, proceeded to the wreck, in front of the lifeboat, and managed with care to take off the crew of three men, and to land them safely ashore. As nothing else could be done; the ship, being water logged and solid, was left to its fate. She was found to be a small sailing ketch; her name, the “Thomas Henry,” and was carrying a cargo of about 120 tons of coal from the Firth of Forth. This craft had been in difficulties off Burnmouth, and had only left that harbour on Saturday.

It may be mentioned that the wreck was first discovered by George Douglas, sea scout, and his uncle, Thomas Douglas, home on leave, both of whom were walking in that direction.

Seaman Henderson, belonging to the lifeboat crew, and Private John Grey, both home on leave, took an active part in the work of the day.

Ann Wilson – Widow, Pauper and Eloping Lover

The Poor and the Law

During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries local parishes were made responsible for the care of paupers within their jurisdiction. This care was given in the form of poor relief legislated by a series of ‘Poor Laws;’ the most notable being the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act. The concept of poor relief was a controversial one, attracting numerous critics. One its major flaws related to the notion of ‘settlement.’ Parishes naturally resented paying for paupers whom had originated beyond their jurisdiction, and would often try to forcibly return them to their ‘home’ parishes. Yet the fluid nature of society, especially during the industrial revolution, made it increasingly hard to prove where a “pauper” should be placed. Thus solicitors, such as the Dickson, Archer and Thorp firm, were often called upon to resolve settlement disputes.

This exact issue arose in September 1853 when two Overseers of the Poor from the parish of Saint Nicholas, situated within Newcastle Upon Tyne, began legal proceedings to forcibly remove two “paupers” from their jurisdiction. These Overseers signed themselves in the removal order as Sir John Fife and William Armstrong. The order directed the “paupers” to be moved into the northern parish of Bamburgh. Although it is not clear from archival documents as to why Bamburgh was chosen it is perhaps telling that Bamburgh’s own Overseers of the Poor fiercely disputed the removal order and so employed the legal aid of Dickson, Archer and Thorp.

Widowed Paupers

The two “paupers” facing removal from the parish of Saint Nicholas in September 1853 were the widow Ann Wilson, aged just 25, and her daughter Elizabeth, aged about two years. Sending widows away from a parish of settlement, previously adopted by their deceased spouses, was a common occurrence in nineteenth century Northumberland. The process often caused heart-breaking social and economic turmoil, as vulnerable women were removed from established networks of friends and family and placed in often unfamiliar areas without obvious employment or emotional support.

 

Order to remove Ann Wilson to Bamburgh 1853

 

It is therefore unsurprising that the potential move was also sternly opposed by Ann herself. Ann had already faced the stigma of possibly welcoming a child out of wedlock, braved her employer’s wrath to elope with her lover and tragically endured early widowhood – clearly she was not a woman who would be moved easily. Thus, whilst her experience of parish poor relief could be deemed atypical of a nineteenth century Northumbrian widow, her situation was far more complex and it made fighting the order a matter of survival and reputation.

Young Lovers

Ann was the daughter of a sailor, named in legal documents as Henry Pryle Gibson. He was recorded in ejectment proceedings as living near Forth Banks, close to Newcastle’s Quayside, but in Ann’s personal testimony he seems to have had little to do with her life.

Instead Ann had spent the majority of her youth working as a domestic servant. In this occupation she had spent almost 3 years living in Newton on the Moor whilst working for the publican-come-blacksmith Mr Wall. In her testimony, given to prove she had been legally married to her deceased husband, she tenderly recalled how it was during her first few weeks in Newton on the Moor that she met the colliery engine-man James Wilson.

 

Copy of James Wilson’s baptism certificate, produced as evidence of his existence

 

The young couple began a three year courtship which reached a decisive point when Ann became pregnant in the beginning of 1851. To have maintained a child out of wedlock would have put great financial pressure and reputational shame upon Ann; probably forcing her to give up domestic employment and seek the support of parish organisations. Thus, probably to avoid moral judgement, the young couple decided to elope to the Scottish borders and resolve their situation legally.

The Legality of Love

Marriages conducted by eloping couples on the border were clandestine in the eyes of the Church, this made them notoriously hard to prove in retrospect. Ann’s account of her elopement is lengthy, witty and fast-paced. It was recorded verbatim by the solicitors and had been carefully crafted to prove the legality of her marriage and, in turn, the legitimacy of Elizabeth – two facts which the Newcastle Overseers had questioned. Being a legal widow, and having a legitimate child, would have put Ann in a much stronger position to fight the parish removal order and lift the reputational slur the men of Saint Nicholas’ parish had placed on her. Ann’s account was also verified by a number of witnesses including her mother-in-law (even though her testimony infers that she may not have wholly approved of her new daughter-in-law.)

 

A letter containing extracts of Ann Wilson’s statement

 

According to these accounts Ann and James eloped to the Scottish border on the 6th June 1851, travelling via train from Newcastle to Berwick. Once at Tweedmouth Station they met with the man who was to marry them; Anderson Sommerville. Sommerville first took the lovers by horse drawn carriage to a public house in search of witnesses; here they met George Dobson and George Davison. The latter was a soldier tasked with recruiting in Berwick that day. The group then moved onto the Lamberton toll booth to conduct the ceremony.

The Lamberton toll house was a popular place for clandestine marriages. One of Lamberton’s previous toll keepers, John Foster, had even received lifetime banishment from Scotland for conducting clandestine marriages on his land in 1818. This punishment had little effect though, as Foster primarily lived in England and he would often ignore the notice anyway.

Within the toll house the Wilson’s were taken to a room with a table, bottle of whiskey and a prayer book. It was in this room where they exchanged their vows and signed the relevant documentation. After the brief ceremony all five drank a toast of whiskey to the marriage’s prosperity which was, unfortunately, to be short-lived.

Hanover Street and a New Start

Ann clearly thought she had embarked upon a whole new, exciting life following her elopement. When the couple returned to Northumberland it would appear James returned to Newton on the Moor, to tie up the loose ends left behind by their hasty departure, he then followed Ann down to Newcastle where she had found them a home in the city’s Hanover Street.

It was here that Ann gave birth to their daughter Elizabeth, on the 28th September 1851. But sadly, around the same time, James died following a short illness.

James’ death left Ann with a young child to feed and care for. It was during this painful, and probably traumatic, experience she found herself seeking poor relief from parish officials. Evidence also suggests she was possibly forced out of her new home. These circumstances therefore assembled to bring her to the attention of senior parish officials, whom questioned her marriage and associated right to remain in the area, and set in motion the removal order.

A Legal Success

Proving Ann Wilson’s right to settle in Saint Nicholas’ parish was dependent upon her having been legally married to her husband, however this was difficult to evidence due to the secret nature of their union. Nonetheless, through tireless county and cross-border investigation, solicitors at the Dickson, Archer and Thorp practice were able to successfully evidence an appeal against the removal order on behalf of Bamburgh’s Overseers of the Poor and prove the authenticity of a small marriage certificate, given to Ann on her wedding day. Officials from the parish of Saint Nicholas eventually revoked their removal order and Ann and Elizabeth appear to have found somewhere within Newcastle to stay.

 

Letter adjoining the Appeal notice accepted by all parties

 

Ann had asserted her right to remain within the Newcastle Parish, but it is unlikely she would have had the tools to fight the removal order on her own had she not also had the support of Bamburgh’s parish officials. Hence this is a story of two parties working simultaneously with the solicitors – if only for their own gains.

A final triumph for the unyielding Ann, and an appropriate end to this blog, potentially occurred on the 7th October 1854. When an Elizabeth Wilson, recorded as being the daughter of an ‘Ann Wilson” and born towards the end of 1851, was christened at Saint Nicholas Cathedral in Newcastle.

 

This Week in World War One, 8 February 1918

 

BERWICK ADVERTISER, 8 FEBRUARY 1918

 

We are pleased to learn that Bombardier Arthur Skeldon. R.F.A., has been awarded the Military Medal for “having extinguished burning ammunition and for coolness and accuracy in laying his gun while under heavy shell fire and when the rest of his detachment had become casualties.” He was also promoted bombardier on the field. He is a present in one of the Base Hospitals suffering from shrapnel wounds in the leg. This gallant soldier has been in France for three years, joining up when only a schoolboy when the war began. He is well known in Spittal, being the grandson of the late Mr Joseph Johnson, who was for a many years Dock Master at Tweedmouth. His younger brother Joe, has now joined up and is a corporal in the 19th Hussars at Aldershot. They are both nephews of Lieut. J. Johnston, R.E., who was awarded the D.C.M., for “conspicuous bravery” and given a commission on the field; and of Mr James Johnson, R.N.R., who was called up on August 3rd, 1914, and who along with so many of our local lads has done splendid service on that gallant ship the Macedonia. Good luck to them all.

 

MILITARY MEDAL FOR A WOOLER MAN

 

We are pleased to announce that official news has been received to the effect that Corporal O. Carr has been awarded the Military Medal. He is the first Wooler man to receive this distinction, and is to be congratulated on his success, which was well deserved as he has proved himself a brave soldier and gone through a lot of fighting. Previous to the war he was a member of the Territorial Force, and when they were mobilised he with others of the Northumberlands was called upon, and after undergoing their course of training were drafted out to France. It will be remembered that on their arrival at the front they were immediately sent into action at the first battle of Ypres, when Brig. General Riddell (another Wooler man) was killed. After completing his four years he was discharged, but joined up again and since then he has been in the thick of it. Corporal Carr is a son of Mr Alexander Carr of Wooler, and in civil life worked with Messrs T. Smart and Sons, slaters and plasterers, Wooler. He was home on leave quite recently, looking fit and well and as eager as ever. Let us hope that he will soon be able to return safe and sound after a complete victory over the unscrupulous enemy.

 

SEAHOUSES

 

The members of B. Coy. Northern Cyclists at present stationed in Seahouses under Lieut D. F. Thomson, together with service men on leave or discharged were entertained to a social evening by a few friends in Seahouses. The entertainment was organised by Miss Ord, Seahouses Post Office, who has in a general way befriended the Cyclists stationed here since 1914. She was ably assisted by the following ladies who provided cakes etc., Mrs Geo. Smith, Mrs W. A. Matthews, Mrs R. W. Mackenzie, Mrs M. Cuthbertson, Mrs H. A. Lawson and Miss Turnbull. Subscriptions were given by Mrs L. B. Ross and Messrs R. and C. W. Dawson, tobacco by Mr L. B. Ross and each man to the number of 50 were presented with a packet of cigarettes by Mr Geo. Smith. Supper was served in the billet, and after it had been thoroughly enjoyed the company adjourned to the large cycle shed which had been artistically decorated by the military under the direction of Mr Geo. Smith. Here they were joined by a number of young ladies. Mrs L. B. Ross kindly lent her piano and excellent music was provided by Corporal Whillicks (piano) and Cyclist Brown (violin). Games and dancing were enjoyed and songs were sung by Miss C. S. Walker, Miss Lizzie Cuthbertson, Miss Helen Young, Quarter Master Sergeant Dixon and Cyclist Gill. Cyclist Potts also gave an exhibition in step dancing. Second-Lieut. Jobson on behalf of the men thanked Miss Ord and those who had so kindly assisted her in providing such an excellent evenings’ entertainment. The men showed their appreciation in a hearty manner. Mr R. W. Mackenzie courteously acted as M.C. Tea urns and ware were kindly lent by Mrs James Young, Longstone House and others.

 

LOCAL NEWS

 

The donations for providing of Christmas parcels for members of Wallace Green Church serving at the front were £16 1s 11d., and the retiring collection £12 5s 8d., making a total of £28 7s 7d. 188 comforts, consisting of woollen goods, cigarettes, soap, etc., were sent in 25 parcels were dispatched to the east, 62 to France, and 46 for home, making a total of 133 parcels sent to the different places. Mr Macaskill has received 64 letters and 4 visits from those who got parcels. It was feared that the Salonica parcels had been sunk by enemy action. The Committee are glad to say such is not the case as Mr Macaskill has had leers from Salonica. Thanks are accorded to Mr Geo. Martin, for the free printing of the Christmas letters and to Messrs Bishop, for a handsome gift of Berwick Cockles.

 

BERWICK PETTY SESSIONS

 

Margaret Aird, married woman, Tweedmouth, was charged with having neglected her five children, aged respectively 12, 10, 9, 7 and 3 years, on 1st February. She pleaded guilty to leaving her children in the house without a fire guard.

The Chief Constable explained that this was one of the cases they were loath to bring before the Court. She was the wife of a soldier in Salonika, had 39s 6d allowance, and with the income of the oldest child had £2 7s. There had been complaints about the defendant’s conduct for some time past and the police had had her under surveillance. She had been gradually selling the house furniture and the allowance was being diverted to other channels.

Sergt. J. McRobb said on Friday evening, 1st February, he was on duty in Well Road with P.C. Lindsay watching the house. They met defendant going home and on returning with her found there was a large fire on and no guard. All the children were in bed but Mary, aged 12, who was sitting at the fireside. The children were scanty and dirtily clothed, and there was a room she would not open. There was a half loaf and some tea and sugar in the house. Defendant said that a mattress was utilised for the rest sleeping on the floor. Witness had seen her twice or three times coming home between 11 and 12 o’clock at night in one week and she had been under their surveillance for three months.

By Mr Herriot – The children did not appear to be starved, but they could have been better.

Capt. Norman enquired if defendant was ever seen under the influence of drink, and the reply was the negative.

The Chief Constable said it was worse than a case of drinking.

Witness (resuming) said he had seen her twice at night at Borewell, Scremerston, and she was not alone on these occasions.

P.C. John Lindsay said he had seen defendant on several occasions late at night with different parties, and he thought it was improper conduct when her husband was away.

Defendant, in a voluble and forcible manner, addressed the Bench, and denied that she had neglected her children, maintaining that there was animosity shown towards her by her own people because she would not speak to them.

The Mayor enquired if the children had been kept regularly at school.

The Chief Constable said that so far as he knew there were no complaints on this ground and the police had not made enquiries; the complaints were with regard to defendant’s nightly conduct, which had continued for some time.

After a private deliberation lasting over fifteen minutes the Mayor said that the Magistrates had found defendant guilty, but for the sake of the children they would not send her to prison. She would be bound over for six months under £5, be placed under the observation of the Probation Officer, and would be asked to pay the costs, 5s.

Warring Neighbours

On the 23rd October 1829 a neighbourhood dispute brought two brothers, George and James Mather, before the law at the Alnwick Quarter Sessions. The brothers were presented on the following nuisance charge;

“On the first day of July in the tenth year of the reign of our own Sovereign Lord George the fourth ….. in and upon a certain street and King’s common Highway there, called Bondgate, unlawfully and injuriously did erect and build, and cause and procure to be erected and built, a certain wall made of stone, mortar and other materials of great height, … the height of fifty feet of the length of sixty feet and the breadth of three feet.”

The wall had been erected as part of a bigger building project to renovate an ancient property, which the Mather brothers had recently acquired on Bondgate Street. But neighbours and local residents resented the street’s new addition, labelling it unlawful and dangerous.

Using Quarter Session records, lifted from the Dickson, Archer and Thorp collection, as well as electoral rolls and contemporary maps one can trace seventy years of property history in the Bondgate area, and understand why a simple home renovation could cause extreme neighbourhood strife and personal tragedy.

 

The prosecution’s case notes

 

Bondgate’s Burgages

Using anecdotes from the testimony of court room witnesses, one can began to build a vivid picture of early nineteenth century Bondgate. The area was a vibrant and creative one, filled with artisan residents practising occupational crafts such as hat and breech-making.  Its main street was a busy common highway, and court witness James Simpson reminisced about how local residents Aaron Shanks and Nicholas Dune would sit and chat in it. The properties which lined Bondgate Street were referred to in court documents as “old burgages” essentially meaning they had been, at some point, rental properties.

The Mather’s controversial property, atypical to others on the row, was described in the prosecution’s brief as an “ancient” building boasting a traditional thatched roof and mud walls. James Mather was listed in electoral rolls as possessing an “undivided moiety of a freehold house,” thus it is likely the Mather brothers shared in the property’s ownership. We can also trace the property’s previous occupants using a list produced specifically for the October court case;

“[the building] formerly belonged to Aaron Shanks (Cooper), afterwards his two daughters, then Robert Patterson of Alnwick a draper, and then to James and George Mathers.”

When the Mather brother’s acquired their new property they set about demolishing its old external walls and erecting new ones. They were not the first amongst their neighbours to renovate the traditional street front. The Nesbit and Landell families had each altered their properties by removing the external walls, which appeared to be of a “temporary nature, to make the buildings sturdier. These necessary, yet subtle, changes were largely accepted by the community, so long as they respected public access to the street and complied with the row’s existing uniform design.

Yet the Mather’s renovation differed hugely, as the brothers had decided to demolish the whole front-facing external wall and rebuild it jutting out into the street. This new design blocked the public’s right of way to Bondgate Street, and broke the perpendicular line which had traditionally existed along the property row.

 

A court sketch of the Landell, Nesbit and Mather properties

 

Neighbours and community members were outraged at the new wall and the property’s new position; and reading their testimonies has highlighted similarities between this case and modern examples regarding the demolition or refurbishment of traditionally established buildings. While some neighbours called for nuisance charges to be brought others viewed the wall as being an outright public danger. This concern was especially illustrated in the testimony of Samuel Fairburn who;

“Had reason to complain for, in going up to his sisters, … about 3 weeks ago he knocked the side of his face against it [the new exterior wall], there was no moon and his eye sight is not good.”

The physical injury and inconvenience to local residents ultimately led to legal complaints and action. But, despite being issued with various indictments and warnings, the brothers refused to amend or remove the wall and thus presented themselves before the court on October 23rd 1829 to defend their boundary rights.

 

The Court Case – Memory Lane

The Mather’s radical act to move their external wall out into the street had thrown into question the land rights of all Bondgate residents, as well as the public’s right to access. The brothers sternly defended their actions by maintaining that the new wall still fell within their land boundary. They perceived this boundary to be marked out by several large rocks, from the property’s original foundations, which had surfaced in the street only metres beyond the original external wall.

The prosecution’s case therefore rested on being able to prove that these stones did not mark any land boundary but that it was the perpendicular line, which had existed for generations between houses, which decided boundary rights. Proving the Mather brothers had subverted these traditional property lines required strong witness testimony. Thus the prosecution’s witnesses were carefully selected from the community for both their knowledge of the area and their ability to remember the property’s state prior to 1795.

 

Notes from the prosecution on witnesses

 

Most of the witnesses were in their 70s when they stood before the court. Some of whom had been builders in their youth, and believed the Mather brothers were correct in their assertion that the surfacing rocks had been part of the property’s original foundations. These witnesses claimed that the rocks had surfaced beyond the property, and into the road, as;

“the original builder had sunk the foundation stones so deep they had crumbled and tumbled below the surface so when they re-emerged they were beyond the boundary”

These rocks therefore held no sway over property rights or boundaries; instead it was the original positioning of the Bondgate row burgages which marked land rights and property lines. This concept was described for the court using a small architectural model, presented by William Smith:

“The old burgage of Mathers was bordered by a burgage belonging to Mr Nesbit on the west, by a burgage belonging to Walter Landells on the east and by Bondgate Street on the north. The front wall of the Mathers old burgage into Bondgate Street was even both with the line of Landells old and new erected houses, and it sloped generally towards Nesbits….. but before Nesbits house was rebuilt as had just been stated, all these three houses were in their old state in a line with each other.”

 

The Mather Family – Triumph and Tragedy

Unfortunately documents from the Dickson, Archer and Thorp collection do not tell us the court’s decision on the case, although research into both census and electoral records has told us that George and James continued to live in the controversial property for at least two more decades.

In the 1840s the brothers can be found living in the Bondgate property along with their sister Margaret Mather and a second woman; Hannah Mather. It is thought that Hannah may have been James’ wife, or perhaps another sister. Research also revealed a boy was born into the Mather family around 1827 and, although his exact parentage is uncertain, he was named George and certainly grew up in the Bondgate property.

Twenty-two years after the court case, in 1851, Margaret and George are still listed as living in Bondgate, whilst Hannah and George Jn cannot be traced. However, in the same year, James Mather is tragically recorded as residing in the Alnwick Workhouse within St Paul’s Parish.

One can only guess as to why the family split up but, in perhaps the most tragic of twists, a map depicting 1820s Alnwick shows the Mather’s Bondgate property was adjoined to a poorhouse. This was a tragic end for James; a man who had fought the law to retain his property rights barely twenty years before and yet ended his life at the other end of the property spectrum.

 

A map showing Alnwick in 1827. If you double-click on the image, and zoom in, the Mather property can be found to the south of the map at the bottom of Bondgate Street 

Norah Balls

Suffragettes

 

Recorded in 1975, Northumberland Archives holds a fascinating oral history recording of Suffragette Norah Balls. In the recording Norah discloses that she was just a young teenager when her mother first took her to a suffrage meeting. Her mother was a very strong-minded woman but not a keen suffragist so Norah was unsure why they both attended. Many years later in Tynemouth, Norah heard a small group of ladies talking about Women’s Suffrage. They were part of a new organisation which was going to be much livelier and insist on votes for women, as the previous attempts had no success.  Norah signed her name to say she would be willing to become a member of the Women’s Social and Political Union. She began to take a very keen interest in it, and after some time, she was induced to go to a by-election.  The Women’s Social and Political Union used to go to by-elections to talk to the people and to oppose the Liberal candidate, as the Liberals only paid lip-service to the movement.  Norah went to Hawick Boroughs with several other women and their waggon and took the chair for the first time. She was very nervous standing up on the wagon in front of three or four hundred men but after her first appearance she attended quite a few by-elections.

 

In the north there were several very ardent suffragettes, who although they wouldn’t come out into the open and stand on street corners, were always behind the movement helping and encouraging.  One was Lady Parsons, the wife of Sir Charles Parsons, and also Mrs Taylor of Chipchase Castle.  Norah worked with her daughter Violet Taylor.  At the South Shields by-election, she remembers that the Women’s Social and Political Union was made-up of a very interesting mix of people – rich and poor, and she found it quite remarkable how they worked together with one special aim.  She remembered Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughter, Christabel, both coming to this by-election and Norah felt embarrassed as she was asked by Mrs Pankhurst to take the chair.  She was terrified but no-one ever said no to that lady! Norah commented that two of Mrs Pankhurst’s daughters, Sylvia and Adela were very plain girls but good speakers.  Her other daughter Christabel was much more alive and very ‘bonny’, always beautifully dressed and was an excellent speaker. Norah also stated that Mrs Pankhurst had wonderful eyes and a beautiful voice which she was able to easily project over a long distance. She recalled one incident when a man threw a cabbage at Mrs Pankhurst and she said ‘Oh the gentleman has lost his head!’.  Normally when they went to the meetings, for example at Armstrong’s Works, the men would heckle them and they were very unoriginal with their comments. They would usually shout things such as ‘Go home and darn your husband’s socks!’ or ‘Go and mind the baby!’. On occasions missiles would be thrown and some things were quite heavy. There were however, many men who were in favour of suffrage for women.

 

No actual dates were given in the recording but Norah stated that it was decided that the Union should carry a petition to the House of Commons. This was to be delivered to Mr Asquith, who was a very hard man and against suffragettes.  A number of people travelled from Newcastle and marched together to the Houses of Parliament. Norah remembered that she clasped her hands around the railings. The women refused to budge unless they saw Mr Asquith and he, of course, absolutely refused to see them and they were eventually arrested and taken to the police station.  Norah recalled falling asleep in the station with her head in a coal bucket. They had to wait until Mr Pevick-Lawrence came to bail them out.  (He later became Lord Pevick-Lawrence).  They were given bail receipts and had to go to court the next morning but no charges were brought against them. They tried to deliver the petition on two further occasions and the third occasion resulted in Norah and a lady called Mrs Brown being pushed up against the railings. Apparently, a policeman was ‘rather rough’ with Mrs Brown so Norah battered his arm and was subsequently arrested for assault.  In court the Magistrate looked at Norah as she stood in the dock and said, ‘This is a most dangerous woman’! Churchill who was Home Secretary at the time refused to let the women make themselves martyrs and so they were all released.

 

With the arrival of WW1, many suffragettes set the fight for the vote aside and took up war work.  Norah started a canteen for the soldiers at Whitley Bay.  She recalls that in the end the vote came quietly in the night and after that the suffragettes all went their separate ways.

Turnpike Tolls and Lone Rebels

 

On the 29th December 1854, at about 9 o’clock in the evening, Mr John Moffat threw down and leveled a “certain rail” belonging to the Alnwick Abbey toll gate situated on the Alnwick and Eglingham turnpike road. Documents from the Dickson, Archer and Thorp collection allow us to follow this case through the courts, and can help us to unpick Moffat’s localised actions and national motives. It is thought these documents were kept as Mr William Dickson, a generational partner in the firm, had been heavily involved in the establishment and maintenance of Alnwick’s turnpike road.

 

Turnpike Roads and Trusts

The establishment of turnpike roads had been first encouraged by central government during the eighteenth century. To use these roads travellers were required to pay a set toll at the turnpike gate. The term “turnpike” derived from the spiked barriers placed on these toll booth gates.  The levied toll would then be re-invested into the road’s maintenance and repair. This system of re-investment created a better road network; allowing for the more efficient movement of goods and the furtherance of industry.

Turnpike roads were managed by “turnpike trusts” consisting of local business owners and industrialists. To create a turnpike road the trust would request permission from central government.  Once permission had been granted the trust was free to set a toll. They would then retain control over the road for 21 years, although this time could be extended by Parliament. By the passing of the last turnpike act in 1836 there had been 942 acts for new turnpike trusts across England and Wales, and turnpike roads covered roughly ⅕ of the total road network.

 

 

 

 

A series of toll booth adverts placed in the Newcastle Courant referring to the letting of turnpike toll gates and master positions. The gates referred to here would have been similar to the one Moffat leveled in 1854.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The turnpike toll gate Moffat damaged had been established after a meeting between the Alnwick turnpike trustees in 1826. This was evidenced in court by Joseph Archer, whom produced the trustees’ minute book obtained from the office of their clerk A. Lambert Esq. Archer also produced various other pieces of evidence to prove the gate’s legality. This included a minute book entry referring to the letting of the Toll Master position to William Patterson and a copy of the Newcastle Courant containing the original letting advert.

 

Queen vs Moffat

The aforementioned evidence was used against Moffat at the Northumberland Adjoined Epiphany Sessions, held on the 22nd July 1855, where Moffat faced two accusations. The first being that he had leveled the toll gate in a “malicious manner,” and the second that his actions had prevented subsequent travellers from paying the due toll.

William Patterson had only been the Alnwick gate toll master since the 13th May 1854. Prior to this he had been living in the area with his wife Margaret and their four young children.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Agreement to let the Alnwick turnpike toll to William Patterson. Also note Mr Dickson’s name included amongst the trustees, further evidence of his close involvement with the case. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yet, despite being in the position only a short while, he admitted to the court that he did;

“not collect the tolls myself generally but I authorise my daughter Alice Patterson to do so in my absence and she had principally collected them since the tenth of June last.”

Alice was his eldest child, born around 1838, and the principle witness to Moffat’s damage. She testified that Moffat had rode into Alnwick with his brother Arthur and refused to pay the designated toll. He had told Alice she could tell her father to put him before the magistrates, but that the toll was unlawful and he therefore would not pay. Upon trying to leave Alnwick hours later the Moffat brothers found themselves locked within the city. Mr Patterson still hadn’t returned to the toll gate, and Alice refused to grant them exit without receiving the outstanding payments. The men refused once more and, as also witnessed by Miss Isabella Williamson, John got down from his horse and began to level the offending gate in the following manner:

“He then started to pull down the rails between the Gate and the Gate House. These rails were in line with the gate across the road and are to prevent any one passing without paying the toll. He broke a piece off the top of one of the rails and she (Alice) told him she would rather open the gate then watch him break it.”

 

 

 

 

 

Alice Patterson’s witness statement, accompanied by a small sketch of the turnpike gate

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turnpike Riots

Mr Moffat’s defence, both at the time of the act and in court, had been that the “the gate was not legal.” This opinion fed into a larger national feeling, with over a century of toll riots having occurred across England and Wales targeted at the swift spread of turnpike gates.

During the 1720s and 1730s some inhabitants of Kingswood near Bristol resented the payment of newly set tolls, which they perceived as being unfair on coal traffic. They subsequently tore down the newly erected turnpike gates and eventually won the exemption of coal traffic in the area. But, with local farmers yet to be pacified, the Bristol riots continued across the latter half of the century. In 1753 riots began in the West Riding of Yorkshire, again because coal traffic had been forced to pay heavy toll duties which had a ripple effect upon the area’s textile production.

Yet, with respect to the timing of Moffat’s stand, the most recent turnpike riots had been the “Rebecca and her Daughters” movement in rural Wales. Between 1839 and 1843 men disguised themselves as women to pull down toll gates in their areas. They referred to themselves as Rebecca’s daughters in reference to a biblical passage about the need to “possess the gates of those who hate them.”

Hence, although industrialists and entrepreneurs may have viewed turnpike gates and trusts as a positive development, small holders or independent artisans saw them as an unnecessary blight on their income and business dealings. Occupational information about the Moffat brothers places them into this latter category, with John being named as a Beanley-based farmer in Alice’s testimony and Arthur Moffat having worked as a farmer in Eglingham on the Turnpike road. It is therefore likely that John would have empathised with the concerns of his national counterparts regarding the heavy payment of tolls, and this allows us a potential insight into Moffat’s belief that the gate was unlawful.

 

Punishment

Irrespective of Moffat’s motivation or inspiration he was found guilty before the court of committing a misdemeanour. Whilst the collection’s documents do not specify the court’s punishment there is a letter between Mr Dickson and a clerk working for the Duke of Northumberland which ambiguously suggests an out-of-court agreement was drawn up between Moffat and the trust.

Ultimately the event does not seem to have inspired further opposition against the toll gate and, as the Duke of Northumberland assured Mr Dickson in correspondence, there was no intention to close the toll booth in the wake of the court case and the turnpike road operated as usual.

 

 

This Week in World War One, 25 January 1918

 

BERWICK ADVERTISER, 25 JANUARY 1918

 

War News

MILITARY CROSS FOR K.O.S.B. OFFICER

Second Lieutenant A. McCall

 

Second Lieutenant A. McCall, K.O.S.B. who was wounded on 31st July, near Ypres, and subsequently died in hospital in France, was awarded the Military Cross. The following is the official account of the act of gallantry for which the decoration was awarded:-

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. When all the other officers of his company had become casualties, he took command and led them with the greatest gallantry and skill during the severe fighting which ensued, returning after the capture of each strong point and collecting more men, whom he led forward. While doing this gallant work, he fell severely wounded in the head, having materially assisted in the capture of the position.

Lieut. McCall was the elder son of Hon. Sheriff-Substitute M. McCall, British Linen Bank House. He obtained his commission in the K.O.S.B., in June, 1916, and went to France in April of last year.

The Military Cross was recently presented to Sheriff Mccall, as next-of-kin to the late Lieut, MCCall, by Colonel Maclaren of the K.O.S.B., at Berwick.

NEW REPORTED PRISONER

Private W. J. Dalgleish

The anxiously awaited news reached Mrs Dalgleish, West End, Tweedmouth, last Thursday that her husband, Private Wm. Joseph Dalglesih, N.F., who was reported in December to have been missing since 26th October, is now stated to be a prisoner of war in Germany. Private Dalgleish joined up at Alnwick on 16th June, 1915, and proceeded in to France in Nov. 1916. We trust that he will return safe and well to his native town, when the war is over.

 

LOCAL NEWS

 

Large queues outside the grocers’ shops were distressing sight in Berwick on Saturday. A drenching rain was falling during the greater part of the day and the miserable conditions were intensified by the unfortunate people having to stand ankle deep in snow slush. So bad were the conditions that in two instances women through exposure and excitement fainted and had to receive attention.

Berwick Advertiser 25 Jan 1918 Advert Food Control

 

Fair supplies of bacon were to be had in some of the shops while margarine which had been scarce commodity during the greater part of the day, was in better supply in the evening, a consignment having arrived late in the afternoon. It is to be sincerely hoped that sights like that of Saturday will never again be allowed to take place, and they could be prevented if a system of equal rationing, not only of butter, margarine, bacon, tea and cheese, but of butcher meat, was immediately introduced. The situation demands immediate and drastic action, but it should not be out with the power of the local Food Control Committee to grapple with the problem quickly and effectively.

Former pupils of the Berwick Grammar School will be pleased to know that Mr Jones (who acted as a modern language master from 1907 to 1913) is still in the pink after two years’ service with the Royal Engineers in France. Mr J. N. Peace, B.A., junior master, is still on active service and feeling fit. We are sure that the “Old Boy’s” will wish them both continued good luck. No less than fifty copies of the School Magazine were sent by the pupils to former pupils at the front last year.

The sudden thaw after the phenomenal spell of frost has produced a scene on the River Tweed which has not been equalled for many years. Ice and snow piles which had gathered on the floes were on the evening tide of Sunday night, being swept to sea by the swollen stream, in considerable quantities. On Monday forenoon the sight presented to the onlooker was not likely soon to be forgotten, and more closely resembled an arctic scene than anything else. As far as the eye could reach a mixture of pack ice, snow and tree trunks was spread over the surface of the river.

(c) Berwick Record Office. Children sledging, River Tweed in the background.

 

About ten thirty, fishermen on the Quay observed a large tree root being carried down to the sea. Running backwards and forwards and evidently alarmed at their plight two rabbits were seen. The poor creatures had evidently been foraging for food on the tree trunk when it broke away further up the river. The state of the river made it impossible for boatmen to attempt then capture and it is possible that the luckless bunnies would meet a sailor’s end in the choppy waters at the harbour mouth. At the mouth of the river the ice pack presented an almost unparalleled sight when meeting with the breakers rolling over the bar. As each succeeding sea rolling in it met the ever increasing volume of ice and water and an almost straight wall of water was set up, just as one party remarked “like the Red Sea when the Israelites passed through.” The grinding and crashing of the ice was heard for a considerable way from the riverside.

A very pretty and quiet wedding took place in Wallace Green Church on Monday 21st inst the contracting parties being Sergt J. R. Young, R. F. C., eldest son of Mr and Mrs George Young, Christon Bank, and Mary eldest daughter of James MacNab, J. P. and Mrs Macnab, Station House, Tweedmouth. The ceremony was conducted by Rev. J. Macaskill, M. A., minister. The bride was given away by her father and had her sister Miss L. MacNab and Miss Young for maids.

St Andrew’s Church of Scotland, Berwick-upon-Tweed. © Bill Henderson, Creative Commons Licence.

The groomsmen were Cpl C. Johnstone N.H., cousin of bridegroom, just home from France the same morning, who has twice been taken prisoner by the Germans, and Mr Williams of North Shields. The bride was dressed in grey Gaba dine trimmed with mole stole and hat to match, the maids wore mole coloured coat frocks and black silk hats. The happy couple left for Retford by 6.40pm Express, where Sergt Young is at present stationed he having been sent back to this country for duty after nearly three years in France. Another brother of Sergt Young is in Italy also in the R.F.C. Both families have given of their best for our Country’s cause. The bride’s travelling dress was of navy blue. At the close of the wedding a reception was held at the home of the bride’s father.

Northumberland’s Hidden Treasures

 

The story of how the Dickson, Archer and Thorp collection came to be acquired by Northumberland Archives is almost as rich and compelling as its 200 year contents. Often described as a ‘time capsule’ due to the detail it can offer us about Northumberland’s social, political and economic story, this value had been left largely unexplored until its recent acquisition by the Northumberland Archives.

 

Personal papers relating to the Thorp family held within the collection

 

The Dickson, Archer and Thorp collection is the culmination of work from a 200 year old Alnwick legal practice. Items within the collection can be dated beyond the practice’s establishment in the 18th century right through to the death of its last partner, Mr Reginald Thorp, in 2003. It is the only legal collection in the care of Northumberland Archives to have this level of historical volume and scope.

 

Notable names peppered the clientele of Dickson, Archer and Thorp; including Grace Darling and her family, The Duke of Northumberland, the Armstrong family and the Liddell (Ravensworth) family. The wills and testimonies of these individuals can be found within the collection, nestled alongside those of ‘ordinary’ locals. This mixed bag enables us to paint a captivating picture of Northumberland using the collection’s marriage, death and criminal records, as well its contemporary stamp duties and manorial papers. The collection also follows the furtherance of industry in Northumberland, by containing records relaying to notable companies such as the Amble Timber and Saw Mill Company and the Hardy’s Fishing Company of Alnwick and Warkworth Harbour.

 

Liddell family papers found within the collection

 

A Hidden Treasure

 

However, although the collection possesses massive local and national significance, its secrets had lain mostly untouched for the vast majority of the 20th century. With the collection kept privately within Dickson, Archer and Thorp’s three-story office in Narrowgate, Alnwick.

 

The office was described by those who entered as ‘Dickensian,’ on account of the floor to ceiling papers and legal materials. These papers, decades old, were neatly labelled and bundled together creating a treasure trove for the enthusiastic researcher.

 

A first-floor bookcase in the Dickson, Archer and Thorp office

 

The second-floor landing in the Dickson, Archer and Thorp office

 

Northumberland Archives staff were first able to explore this exciting world during the 1970s when Mr Thorp approached them to assess the collection. This initial work was carried out over a ten year period, stretching through the 70’s and 80’s. But the collection’s sheer scope and scale made creating a complete inventory an almost impossible task. Archives staff were hindered further due to a lack of artificial light within the building, meaning they could only work during the summer months. Due to these obstacles less than 10% of the whole collection was actually catalogued during this period, but its historical importance had already become glowingly apparent to archivists.

 

Public Auction and Benefactors

 

Upon the aforementioned Mr Thorp’s death the collection became the property of his heirs, whom decided to pass it on through auction. In 2005 a public auction threatened the integrity of the collection by potentially dividing it piecemeal. Some papers fell into private hands whilst others, such as some of the practice’s own business records, were secured for Northumberland Archives through the generosity of a private benefactors.

 

Auction pamphlet, circa 1878, found within the collection

 

The bulk of the collection remained in situ at the Narrowgate office, before being purchased by a postal historian who subsequently offered a significant part of the collection to Northumberland Archives. The collection was, at this time, independently assessed as being the most significant collection relating to the history of Northumberland remaining in private hands.’

 

From Barn to Archive

 

From 2005 onwards the then owner kept the collection in a barn on his property, whilst passing between 10 – 15% onto interested parties across the world. Some of these items were eventually deposited with Northumberland Archives by public spirited purchasers. The items is his care that were eventually offered to Northumberland Archives comprised  approximately 240 large banker boxes, 20 smaller boxes and a selection of plans.

 

This period in the collection’s journey indicated two things; firstly there was a growing, global interest in the collection and secondly there was a serious need to preserve its authentic integrity as a whole or risk its dissemination across the world.

 

A bundle of papers from the collection

 

In 2015 Northumberland Archives was approached and asked if we would be interested in purchasing the remaining collection for the sum of £150,000. In light of the collection’s historic and cultural significance the sum was declared reasonable and the decision to proceed with the purchase was made. The eventual acquisition was made possible through internal fundraising as well as grants and charitable funding from a range of grant giving bodies including The Heritage Lottery Fund, Lord Crewe Charity, Friends of National Libraries and the V&A Purchase Fund.

 

The acquisition was formalised in 2017, with a week set aside for archival staff to box and roughly list this immense collection. Finally the collection’s journey had brought it to be stored in perpetuity by Northumberland Archives, allowing it to be valued by all members of the public.

 

A handbill referring to the Craster Harbour dispute found within the collection

 

The Future

 

The future will see the beginnings of in-depth research into the collection; facilitated by a process of comprehensive cataloging. This work will be largely conducted by volunteers, with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund allowing the Northumberland Archives to engage a Volunteer Co-ordinator. You can follow this project, and the secrets it uncovers, through this blog or the Archives’ other social media platforms.

This Week in World War One, 11 January 1918

 

BERWICK ADVERTISER, 11 JANUARY 1918

 

 

Tragic Death of Lieut. Fedden

AS THE RESULT OF EXPOSURE

DESCENT IN CHANNEL ENDS FATALITY

 

 

Berwick was shocked to hear on Monday after news of the death of Lieut. Fedden, who only some six weeks ago was married to Miss Shena Lennox Fraser, eldest daughter of Dr. Chas. L. Fraser, Elder House, Berwick. He met his end by exhaustion, through having been compelled to come down in the Channel on account of engine trouble, while flying near Bythe.

Lieut. Fedden during his short stays in, the town had won the respect and esteem of all who knew him, and admired him for the capable officer he was. An experienced and reliable member of the Air Service his will indeed be a loss to the Country, and we are sure that we voice the feeling of all in Berwick when we extend to the young widow, and both families our deepest and heartfelt sympathy in the great affliction which has come upon them.

Lieut. Fedden was the son of Mr. T. Player Fedden, of Glenthorpe, Barnet, served with the Punjabis in Mesopotamia and France, and had been wounded in the arm. Since then he has held important appointments at certain Aerodromes where his knowledge of aircraft has proved of great benefit to the service. In November, when his marriage took place, he was under orders to proceed to important work in Italy. He has died before he got his marching orders.

Lieut. Fedden was one of the officers who gave evidence before the Commission which enquired into the Mesopotamia campaign.

Just a fortnight ago he was with us in the town on short leave, today he is but a memory, yet a memory which is pregnant with all that we feel for a soldier and a gentleman who has fought and who has yielded up his life in the service of his country.

 

LOCAL NEWS

 

Of course there are many grumblers, but on the whole, people are managing fairly well with their half-pound of sugar a week. We hope the sugar will be more constant than the

An example of a WW1 sugar rationing card.

paper ration. Imports of paper were first reduced by a third, then the two-thirds that was left over reduced by half, and now the one third of what was used in 1914 is to be reduced by another third, leaving only 29ths or under a quarter of the 1914 supply.

 

BERWICK OFFICERS’ EXPERIENCES

ON THE ITALIAN FRONT

 

“Where I am now we get very little news and very seldom get the chance to see a paper. I have only had one mail during the last three weeks, and the latest letter was dated November 26th, so it is rather a change from France, where everything went so smoothly. We have been in the line now for about three weeks, but there are hopes of my Brigade being out for Christmas. I am afraid the boys will not get any plum puddings this year, though we can get plenty of turkeys and geese; you can buy a very good one for from 7 to 10 lire (3s 6d to 5s). There are no E.F.C.’s yet and cigarettes and tobacco are not to be had unless you can go a long way back. Some of the men have actually been reduced to smoking tea leaves, etc. I am running a small canteen, but can only get about 200 lire worth of cigarettes a week, and then have to go nearly 40 kilometres for them.

The country is very pretty, and up at the front line it is a most extraordinary contrast to what we were used to before. The two lines are separated by a very broad river bed (1400 to 2000 yards across) so there is no sniping. There is very little water in the river just now, as the snow has just begun. Very high mountains rise up from the river bed, and it is magnificently pretty.

When we first took over the line it was very quiet, and to give you some idea of what it was like, an order came out in D.R.O. that “No clean washing had in future to be hung out to dry on the wire entanglements in front of the front line trenches. “Men used to go down to the river and wash their clothes in the middle of No Man’s Land. It is very different now, and there is quite a lot of shelling, though officers in the front line can still sleep in very comfortable beds in the little houses along the banks of the rivers.

We can make ourselves very comfortable as the people fled and left all their worldly goods behind. We have very dry weather, but it is fearfully cold and frosty at nights, and generally bright during the day. We have a lot of boys in our Brigade now from the North of England, and some from round about Haggertson and that way. Of course we area north country division.

I was very lucky, as I was one of the entertaining officers at our departure station in France, and came in with two N.F.’s by ordinary passenger train all the way to the frontier, and managed a day and night in Paris, and half a day in Genoa. I am afraid we shall get no leave from here for along time, which is rather rotten. If we have a heavy snowfall it may hurry it on a little.”

 

BART LOUGH, OF SPITTAL

 

We have decided to open a “Berwick Advertiser” fund to provide a new boat for Bart Lough of Spittal who, as we reported last week, has lost his coble, the “Mary Harrison”.

In the ordinary way one should expect a fisherman to insure his boat and tackle when their loss mean so much to him. We are told that this is practically impossible. Lloyd’s is the only available agency, and they are not interested in such small craft. We feel, therefore, we have a strong case to put before the public. Mr Lough is not to blame for not insuring his boat; it was lost through no fault of his own, but rather by his own perseverance in providing food for the nation, when food is short. All along the coast he is known as a fearless and experienced fisherman, who has frequently risked his own life and property to assist others.

 

This Week in World War One, 28 December 1917

 

BERWICK ADVERTISER, 28 DECEMBER 1917

 

NOTES FROM SPITTAL

HOME ON LEAVE

 

Sergeant Frank Swinney, N.F., is home for a 14 days’ leave from the Front. He is looking well in spite of the hardships he has endured. He went out with his regiment in April, 1915, as private, has been wounded twice, and has earned his promotion in the field.

We notice cadets Tom Burn and R. C. Clements also home; the former well known as one of our foremost footballers, and the other our late Boy Scouts’ Leader and Schoolmaster in Spittal Council School.

Lance-Corporal Borthwick is also here from the front. In his avocation as a postman he is well-known. He is married to a daughter of Mr R. Gladstone of West Street, Spittal.

Private J. Boston, son of Mr R. Boston of Forge Cottages is home for Christmas, also Seaman Jas. Johnston, one of the crew of the (will we call it the Spittal ship) the Macedonia.

 

BELFORD AND DISTRICT

ON LEAVE FROM FRANCE

 

We are pleased to see an old friend in the person of Private Thomas Ryan, West Street, Belford, enjoying his leave at present. Tom has been 13 months in France and has had some rough experiences, being wounded in the right arm and right leg on one occasion. His photo and brief sketch of movements appeared in these columns in November last. He has our very best wishes for the future.

Corporal E. Fenwick, M.M., eldest son of Mr and Mrs Fenwick, Middleton, Belford, is a present enjoying his 14 days’ leave from France. Our young friend is looking exceedingly well to have spent 14 months in the firing line. A brief sketch of his career and photo appeared in these columns in June last. We wish him a continuance of his past good luck.

It is quite a pleasure to see Private Edmund Henry, 4th son of Mr and Mrs Henry, Plantation Farm, Belford, enjoying a few days leave prior to going overseas with his regiment, East Yorks. Edmund enlisted shortly after attaining his 18th birthday, and has been in training since. Our young friend is looking well and appears to have increased in height and width since joining up. He has our best wishes for his future welfare.

 

LOCAL NEWS

 

An entertainment was given in the Playhouse on Monday afternoon to 1000 school children, whose fathers or brothers are serving, or have served, in the Army or navy during the present war.

© Berwick Record Office, BRO-1250-123.

The idea originated with County Alderman Thomas Darling, who collected the necessary funds from his friends. A series of pictures was shown, and a conjurer gave a display. Needless to say, the young folks were delighted. After the singing of the National Anthem, Mr Willits moved a vote of thanks to Mr Darling and the other donors, and expressed the pleasure that the treat would give, not only to the children, but to the brave men who are fighting for us.

Towards midnight on Christmas Eve, the crew of Berwick Lifeboat were summoned for the purpose of placing on board their boats in the bay, four members of the crew who had come ashore in small boats and were unable to reach their crafts owing to the heavy sea which had suddenly arisen.

Image 8 – Lifeboat – RNLB Matthew Simpson – Left to Right – Not known, Not known, Not known, John Wood, Knot known, Jack Lough, George Lough, Bartholomew Lough, Thomas Martin (possible), Not known, Not Known, Alex Patterson Lough.

 

The lifeboat went to the mouth of the river, and found that the craft had disappeared, but they were just in time to rescue two members of the crew who had been left in charge of their own boat, which had broken adrift, and would in a minute or two more have been swamped by the tremendous sea. Unfortunately, the lifeboat was a good deal damaged by the sinking boat being hurled against its side with great force. The men left by rail to rejoin their boat in the Firth of Forth.

Last week we reported a police case where boys in the K.O.S.B. Band raided Mr Crisp’s tobacconist shop. It came out that one of the boys, Laubauch, a lad of under sixteen, had already had no less than ten charges of theft against him. We believe that the theft of the motor car was nothing more than the boy going off in the car for a joy ride, and stepping out into the owner’s arms when he returned. He was sentenced to six months imprisonment in all. It is worth considering if the boy has been benefited by his previous punishment, because, if not, there should be some better way found of turning him into an honest citizen. We don’t profess to be able to say what that method should be but the present method of punishing the boy at any rate does not seem very successful.

 

THE K.O.S.B. BARRACKS

 

At the Barracks the Corporals and men of the K.O.S.B. were entertained to a Christmas dinner and in the absence of Lieut. Colonel Maclaren, Major Robertson Glasgow, delivered a short address, being accompanied by Major F. Villiers, Adjutant, and Lieut. Hart. Mr Robertson, Glasgow expressed the hope that the great conflict would be ended before they again met for Christmas. He was pleased to meet so many non coms and men some of whom had gained from one to five badges, and had lent a hand in holding back the initial effort of the German avalanche. At the close, hearty cheers were given for all the officers and a most pleasant time was spent.

 

COL. PETERKIN AND THE WAR LOAN

 

The Royal Scots were entertained to dinner in the Dining Hut on the Parade, according to regimental custom. The men were waited upon by the warrant officers and sergeants of the Battalion. The fare reflected great credit upon the Quarter-Master Staff, the Sergeant Cook and his assistants. The Royal Scots orchestra was present, and discoursed popular airs while dinner was in progress. Col. Peterkin with his officers paid a visit to the Dining Hut, and in a few brief remarks spoke of the exemplary record the Battalion had maintained since mobilisation.

The huts on the Parade at Berwick. In one of these (The Dining Hut), the Royal Scots were entertained. © Berwick Record Office, BRO 1944-1-149-1.

 

Each new year had shown a clean sheet, and he trusted this would be maintained on the present occasion. He was proud to tell them that in connection with the War Loan they had beaten the Brigade hollow in regard to the amount subscribed. The figures showed the 2-10th Royal Scots with £155 7s 6d to their credit, or over £70 more than the next highest in the Battalion. (Applause).They had all done well, but he had no doubt that the well could have been made better. He was sure that money was sometimes spent carelessly by the men that could have been put to a better purpose in the War Loan. (Applause). He concluded by wishing them all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. (Applause).The men gave cheers for Col. Peterkin and the other officers, singing “For he’s a jolly good fellow.” The officers paid a similar visit to the Sergeant’s Mess.