This Week in World War One, 23 March 1917







Alexander Gladstone, son of Mr and Mrs Gladstone, Falloden Terrace, Tweedmouth, and grandson of the late highly respected Thomas Brown, N.E.R. engine driver, Tweedmouth, who met with a tragic end at Goswick some ten years ago. He is 20 years of age, was a territorial, and was mobilised with the 7th Northumberland Fusiliers in August, 1914, put in his time at Gosforth and Cambois, and went with the battalion to France in April, 1915. He was in the fateful battle St. Julien, and was wounded at St. Eloi after which he was confined to hospital for six weeks. For 15 months he was orderly and stretcher bearer under our esteemed townsman, Dr Mackay, was also a pupil under the doctor in the N.E.R. Ambulance Corps, and won 1st class honours in competitions in same. He has since leaving the Ambulance Section of the Northumberland Fusiliers been 8 months in the transport of the same battalion and has been absent from home for 15 months without leave. We wish him continued good luck and safe home, as he has like many others, some terrible experiences to his credit, although he is so young. Previous to the war he was a fireman with the N.E.R. Co.




Thanks. – The Committees of the Berwick Ladies’ District Nursing Association, and the Berwick-on-Tweed Prisoners of War Fund, would like to take this opportunity of rending their very grateful thanks to Mr Dudgeon and his concert party for the handsome sum of £38, which has been equally divided between them. These committees feel assured that they and the public generally, owe these friends a debt of gratitude, not only for the very acceptable addition to the funds of both Associations, but for a most enjoyable and successful evening’s entertainment. The Committee of the Prisoners of War Fund would like, at the same time, to thank those friends who so successfully organised a concert at Spittal for their friends, and to the promoters of other entertainments, sales of work, etc., who have so generously given of their takings for the Prisoners.

Camp Gardens – Hutments and Barracks. – A Scottish Command Order states – Attention is drawn to the urgent need of making the most of every source of food and of supplementing the messing of the troops with a variety of vegetables grown on the spot. A proportion of the vegetables necessary for the men can, in the majority of hutment camps and barracks, be grown in plots adjacent to the lines, and the attention of Command Officers is drawn to the need of prompt action.

Presentation at the Barracks. – On Monday evening an interesting presentation was made in the Sergeants’ Mess at the Berwick Barracks, when Sergt. W. Tait, of the K.O.S.B., was presented with a handsome marble clock and a pair of bronze side ornaments on the occasion of his marriage which took place on Thursday, 22nd inst.

(C) BRO 1636-8-22 Berwick Barracks


The presentation was made in a neat and appropriate speech by Sergt. Major J. B. Westle on behalf of the members and honorary members of the Sergeants Mess at the Depot, and was suitably acknowledged by the gallant recipient. Sergt. Tait has 23 years service, has been twice at the front, and has been twice wounded. He was a time-expired soldier, and re-joined his old regiment at the call of duty. He is native of Glasgow. The gifts were supplied by Messrs Ross, jewellers, Bridge Street, Berwick.






A crowded house met in the Queen’s Rooms, Berwick, on Thursday, March 15th, to enjoy a concert of unusual excellence given by local amateur artistes of undoubted ability.

The Chairman, Captain C.B. Balfour of Newton Don, Kelso, who spoke of the excellent work done by the nurses, drew special attention to the fact that the professional nurses had not only their own work to do, but were engaged besides in the training of novices which it added greatly to their labours.

Group of nurses taken in Northern France, probably c 1916. Source: Unsung heroes – World War 1 nurses. © Licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license.


Captain Balfour was of opinion that our prisoners of war were in great need of help and sympathy. His own son had been a civilian prisoner in Germany since war broke out and, bad as the lot of the civilian prisoner had been we could be sure that the lot of the soldier prisoner was worse. Before the concert opened Captain Balfour said that many of the artistes were well known to him. They had come to Newton Don once every month for more than a year, and he assured the audience that if their services were as much appreciated in Berwick as they are at Newton Don, a great treat was in store for them. (Applause).

Considerable changes had to be made. Private Bell, we regret to say, is in hospital, Lance Cpl. Henderson was indisposed, and Sgt. Clark had a bad throat. The absence of these skilled soldier artistes was much regretted, but their places were ably filled by Mrs R. H. Wilkinson (piano) and Mr James Winram, the celebrated Scottish violinist from Edinburgh, whose services were fortunately secured.

The concert opened with an instrumental trio – Mr Winram, violin; Private C. Irwin, “cello; Mrs R. H. Wilkinson, piano. It was seen at once that all three were expert musicians who acquitted themselves with as much ease and facility as if they had been playing together for years.




 In nearly all cases of farm labourers, passed for general service, which have come before recent Tribunals at Berwick, the men have been ordered to serve when a suitable substitute could be found. Then the young ploughman, or shepherd, or carter has been allowed to return to his work, and nothing further has happened. Now, however, things have begun to happen. A week ago a contingent of 120 soldiers came to Berwick, nearly all men who have been doing their bit in France, and who now, because they are wounded, or for some other reason, have been placed in the C2 category. They have been ploughmen, carters, joiners, general labourers, and poultry farmers in civil life, and are as alert and keen a set of men as one could wish to see, all as eager to do their part in providing food for the people as they were eager in other days to help to keep the enemy from our shores. They are drawn from different regiments, among them are a very considerable number of Lancashire and Yorkshire men. The officer in charge is a qualified and experienced agriculturist.

19/20th Century Bondagers at work (c) BRO 1894-30


Many farmers who came to the market on Saturday said they had heard rumours of the arrival of the substitutes, but had no definite information about them. They seemed much relieved to find so many men, among them who had had experience in agriculture, and find that arrangements were in the hands of an officer with such splendid agricultural qualifications. The chief objection raised by local farmers to the substitution scheme was, “Where are these men to be housed? The farm cottages are too small to cope with even one extra person”. Another farmer, hearing this objection, took a more cheerful view. “Surely that is not a difficulty we need trouble about” he said. “I am sure we can rig up something quite as comfortable as many a billet for our ploughmen substitutes, even if we can’t provide them all with cottages.”



Alice Mary Carr-Ellison: In Peace & War

Jock, Alice, and Ralph Carr-Ellison, 41 Princes Gate, London,


Alice was born Alice Mary Campbell in 1866 in Glendaruel, Argyll, the youngest child of Archibald Campbell, Captain of the 42nd Highlanders, and his second wife, Christina Maclaren.  Alice’s brother, William, was an officer in the Black Watch, and had served in South Africa, alongside Ralph Henry Carr-Ellison, Alice’s future husband.  Ralph mentioned Alice in his letters home from Bechuanaland (now Botswana), Africa, where he was serving in the British Bechuanaland Police – a border police force.  When he returned home in the Autumn of 1892, their engagement was announced.

They were married at St. Peter’s Parish Church, Cranley Gardens, London, on 28 February 1893.  Ralph was stationed in York at the time of their marriage, and the couple lived there for a time, before Ralph was posted to Ireland.  Their only child, John (Jock) Campbell Carr-Ellison, was born on 25 September 1897, at 4 Walton Street, London.  Alice was to leave her son when he was two years old, to follow her husband to South Africa.  She set sail on the S.S. Norman not long after her husband sailed in 1899.

While Ralph was on campaign, Alice was left very much to her own devices, often for months at a time.  She would visit recent battlefields with friends, and she threw herself into the lively social scene.  Based firstly in Cape Town, she visited the sick and injured who had been sent back to the city after the battle at Magersfontein.  In January 1900, Alice made her way to Pietermaritzburg and again became involved in caring for the sick and wounded, and was asked to join the nursing staff.  Ralph did not approve, so Alice compromised; she carried on visiting the patients while acting as a voluntary nurse to those soldiers who were convalescing.

After almost three years in South Africa, on 2 July 1902, Alice set sail for Britain on the Dunottar Castle, even though she lacked the necessary permit for her passage, and brought two illegal immigrants (meerkats!) on board with her.  On 28 July, Alice landed at Callart, Invernesshire, and was reunited with her son, Jock, at Fort William.  By this time he was five years old.

Ralph had wanted to travel to Hong Kong after his return to England.  Alice was more than willing to travel with him – she was as adventurous as he was – but her health deteriorated and the plans were forgotten.  The couple moved to Guernsey in 1906, when Ralph was made Deputy Governor of the island.  Their time on the island came to an end in 1910 and they embarked on a world tour, visiting Cairo and India along the way, only returning to Hedgeley in October 1913.



During the First World War, Alice organised working parties at her home in 41 Princes Gate, London, making articles for those at the Front.  When Ralph and Alice moved to Dublin she became involved in many welfare committees to improve conditions for soldiers and their families.  She organised food and tobacco parcels to be sent to the men at the front and those in prisoner of war camps.  She also formed a workshop for disabled soldiers, where they could make artificial limbs, giving them the chance to earn a wage and support their families.

In 1917, Alice did even more for the national war effort by turning Dunston Hill House, Gateshead, into an after-care home, catering for 45 disabled soldiers and sailors at a time.  The house was in a peaceful, countryside location, but was close enough to Newcastle to make it accessible.


Photograph of Dunston Hill House.


Dunston Hill House was taken over by the Northumberland War Pensions Committee, and used especially for neurasthenic cases – men suffering from the stress they had experienced in the trenches.  Alice was elected a member of the Committee that would run the Home, and was instrumental in planning the alterations and additions that would make a home into a hospital.

During the War, Princes Gate became a gathering place for servicemen, and Hedgeley became an unofficial rest and recreation centre for disabled officers.  Both houses were for the use of overseas troops – the South African, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand forces.

In September 1921, at the age of fifty-five, Alice died of pneumonia at her home in London.  Her cremation took place at Golder’s Green, and the ashes were interned in Eglingham churchyard on 14 September, after a memorial service that was attended by family, friends, local dignitaries and estate tenants from Northumberland and Durham.  Mr. G. Hemming, the Head Gardener at Hedgeley, lined the burial vault with laurel and flowers from the gardens of Hedgeley Hall.

This Week in World War One, 9 March 1917






Local Minister and the Food Problem. – In compliance with the recommendation of the Food Controller the Rev. John Macaskill, M.A., on Sunday in Wallace Green Church, Berwick, directed the attention of the congregation to the circular letter he had received regarding voluntary rationing. To the young people present he delivered a short but most interesting address based on the words, “Gathering up the fragments.” He showed how much food could be saved if each was to take care of the small pieces of bread that were over at meal times, and how great this waste amounted to in the aggregate. The same lesson applied to the diligent use of time. People often remarked how clever such and such a person was, but the explanation of this was to be found in the fact the individual alluded to made proper use of his odd moments in improving and storing his mind with useful knowledge. The reverend gentleman’s subsequent sermon was in a similar theme, and in concluding he pointed out that no doubt after the war habits of thrift of a bygone generation would be inculcated. Some might be inclined to think that we would lose the habits of hospitality for which our nation had been known. While restraints were good we must see that in the end it did not deprive us of our open handedness and our willingness to share the good things of life with others, cultivating and social fellowship which we remembered as one of life’s assets.

The “Tanks” at the Playhouse. – This week the film on exhibition is the “Fools of Fate,” The variety part is sustained by Miss B. Wright, contralto vocalist, in scena song and gipsy

“The Battle of the Somme” (1916 British film) – Source: Yorkshire Evening Post – Author: British government

encampment. There should be a great desire on the public’s part to witness the film on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, as it is one which attracts attention everywhere. “The Battle of the Ancre and the Advance of the Tanks” will prove the most in spiriting war picture the world has ever seen. It is a noble and wonderful record of the great autumn battle, and is even more interesting than the world-famous picture “The Battle of the Somme.” The pictures have been taken on the actual battlefield, and contain nothing whatever in the nature of faked or made-up scenes. The film is divided into four parts, and the boldness of the forward dash, and the manner in which the Tanks arrived to upset the German calculations are all shown in these wonderful pictures, which in the wealth of their subject excel anything the world has ever seen. On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday the film is to be “The Miracle of Youth.” It is a picture version of the famous novel by Bret Harte, with Hobart Bosworth in the title role. The characters portrayed are exceptionally fine, the settings and photography being magnificent. Carino, the boy violinist, should prove an excellent variety programme, as he is a master of this sweet instrument.

Speed of Military Motor Vehicles – an order by the Scottish Command states:- With reference to the W.O. Letter, 92/2508 (A.G.3), dated 4th February 1915 (Command Order No. 309, dated 9th February 1915), attention has been drawn to the increasing number of fatal street accidents caused by Government cars or privately-owned cars driven by officers and men in uniform, and it is desired to impress on all ranks that the local speed rates must be strictly observed when travelling on duty. Special arrangements have been made for authorising cars to proceed at a speed in excess of the legal limit in case of extreme military urgency by the issue of a special written authority, and it is solely under this condition that any deviation in excess of the normal speed rates is permissible. Should any omission to observe this order render an officer or man liable to prosecution by the police authorities, and subsequently conviction, they will themselves pay any fines which may be incurred. The attention of all A.S.C. M.T. drivers should be drawn to paragraphs 6 to 10, appendix 27, Army Service Corps Regimental Standing Orders.




German Claims Descent from Grace Darling  –  At Liverpool a charge of making a false statement was preferred against Weximilian Eugene Backhans (37), and alleged German who posed as a Belgian. A detective stated that prisoner married an English woman 14 years ago, and claimed that his wife was a descendant of Grace Darling. There were three children. Before the war the prisoner was known as a German, and had boasted of what Germany could do to England. Evidence was given by an hotel manager and a waiter, who had known and worked with accused, that he was undoubtedly a German. The latter witness added he knew accused to be German, and once gave him a thrashing, “Only as recently as January, “said witness. “I met him. I am in the Volunteers, and said to him: Haven’t the interned you yet? I’ll see that they do. I’m not going to do volunteering if your at large.” Accused contended that he was born at Ostend. The magistrate said accused must go to gaol for three months.




The Local Government Board recommended that selection of rations be made involving the consumption of smaller quantities of flour, meat, and sugar, and a list of alternative articles substituted could be revised with the assistance of the medical officer. No dietary tables which appeared in excess of the Food Controller’s recommendations was to remain in force after 31st March. The relief in kind to the outdoor poor was also to be revised, while allowances to officers were to be a matter of arrangement between them and the Guardians.

Shown in the top right of this recipe book, is the WW1 Barley Bread recipe.


Mr Banks, Workhouse master, said that in the matter of meat, sugar, and flour, they were already within the Controller’s standard. The Medical Officer had pointed out the difficulties in getting substitutes in some instances, but he agreed that barley should take the place of flour bread. He had communicated with the baker, and he had promised to send up samples of barley bread. It was stated by the baker that he could make 1 lb. loves of barley, and if this suggestion was carried out it would bring down the allowances of bread to 4 lb. 2 ozs, per week.

In answer to Mr Peacocke the Master said that the children got fed according to individual requirements.

It was agreed to leave the matter in the hands of the Master and the Medical Officer.

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

The Murder of Joe the Quilter

On 3 January 1826 a 76 year old man named Joseph Hedley was brutally murdered in his cottage in the parish of Warden. Joseph’s throat and face were slashed and multiple stab wounds were inflicted upon his body. He was commonly known as Joe the Quilter due to his skill with needlework. He was a quilter by trade and travelled around the country seeking employment. Joe’s skills in quilting were celebrated, and his handiwork was known in various parts of England, Ireland, Scotland and America.

On the evening of the murder, Joe obtained a pitcher of milk, a pound of sugar, a sheep’s head and pluck (offal) from farmer’s wife Mrs Colbeck of Warwick Grange. At approximately 6pm William Herdman, a labourer living in Wall called in on Joe on his way home from work at the local paper mill and sat with him for a short time. Joe had a good fire going and was busy preparing some potatoes for his supper.  Around 7pm Mrs Biggs, a female pedlar from Stamfordham knocked at the cottage to ask directions to Fourstones having missed the turning due to the excessive darkness of the night. Joe came to the door and gave her the necessary directions. Apart from the murderer(s), Mrs Biggs is said to be the last person to have seen him alive.


Plan of Joe’s cottage where the murder took place


At approximately 8pm a Mr Smith of Haughton Castle rode past the cottage on his way home from Warden and all at the cottage was silent and dark. It is suspected that the deed took place between 7-8pm. Concern for Joe’s safety grew after his neighbours didn’t see the elderly man for a few days. It was reported that there appeared to be marks of blood in the snow outside the cottage and marks to indicate that a struggle had taken place. His neighbours found the cottage door locked and after knocking several times with no reply proceeded to break into the property. They were faced with a chilling sight as parts of the walls of the cottage were stained with blood and a quilt spread on a frame bore a distinct mark of a bloody handprint. The pitcher of milk, sheep’s head and pound of sugar which he had recently purchased were found lying on a table. A search of the house was conducted and nothing was found. An old outhouse which stored wood and coals was then searched and Joe’s body was discovered. Both cheeks were cut widely open with deep wounds. A garden hoe was found laid across his chest. A coal rake was also found with its shank bent. As two weapons were discovered it then raised a suspicion that there were 2 murderers. Joe was found with knife wounds on his hands so had obviously fought with the attacker(s).

The small cottage had been ransacked and bore evidence of a struggle. All of his boxes and drawers had been disturbed and it was believed that two silver tablespoons, four teaspoons and two old fashioned salt cellars of silver net-work had been stolen.The bed tester had been violently torn down and the face of the clock broken. Prints of 3 bloody fingers were distinctly visible on the chimney jamb . The plates on the dresser were also streaked with blood. Outside in the lane some clogs were found and a small piece of coat was discovered on a hedge.It was supposed that Joe had fought hard with the murderer(s) and had managed to escape about 100 yards from the cottage before he was caught. Judging by the marks in the snow it appeared that a struggle had taken place and then Joe had been overcome and dragged back and murdered. After this had taken place the cottage door had been locked on the outside and the key taken away.


Reward Poster


A one hundred guineas reward was offered to catch the perpetrator(s) of the atrocious murder . The reward was offered from the Overseers of the Poor of the parish of Warden on 17 January 1826. Home secretary Robert Peel offered his majesty’s full pardon to any accomplices who came forward with information (as long as they were not the actual murderer). A jury returned a verdict of wilful murder against some person or persons unknown.  Although several people were arrested and questioned nobody was ever charged and sadly the murder of Joe the Quilter was never solved. Joe was buried in Warden churchyard on 10 January 1826. On his burial entry the word murdered can clearly be read underneath his name.



On Wednesday 29 March 1826, an auction was held to sell the household furniture belonging to the ‘late unfortunate Joseph Hedley, commonly called Joe The Quilter’.


Auction Poster


This Week in World War One, 26 January 1917






Delia Curry, Berwick, married, was charged with concealing two deserters- Private Martin Conroy and Private Curry, in her house on 23rd January.

The Chief Constable explained that Sergeant Wilson got information that there were two deserters in the defendant’s garret in Chapel Street on Tuesday. From snoring the Sergeant heard outside he came to the conclusion that there were several men in the room. He called later, but the defendant refused to open the door for a considerable time. By the aid of a pen-knife he enlarged a hole in the door and saw a man partly dressed in khaki. He also saw a uniform lying about, and on getting in he only saw one man. There was a cupboard which he at last forced and found a man concealed there. Conroy had been an absentee since 9th April, 1916, and Curry since the 11th December- both from Duddingston.

(c) BRO 1250/163 Chapel Street 1950’s

Sergt. Wilson gave evidence as to his visit to the house. The keyhole of the door was choked up. After getting hold of one of the soldiers defendant said that there was no one in the house though the other was concealed in the cupboard. Conroy was defendant’s husband, the other man her brother.

Sergt Harvie, the Barracks, proved that the men were both deserters.

Defendant denied the charge, and said that the soldier went into the cupboard to put on his trousers – it was not a cupboard, it was a small room.

The Chief Constable said that the defendant was one of those who travelled the country and had no permanent residence.

Sentence – one month’s hard labour.




Laying the foundation Stone of Berwick Pier. In connection with our short article

Masonic Lodge, Berwick-upon-Tweed. © James Denholm, Creative Commons Licence.

regarding the Masonic ceremony at the laying of the foundation stone of Berwick Pier, it is of interest to note that there are framed in St. David’s Lodge two masonic aprons worn on that occasion. The inscription on the first is as follows: – “Presented to St. David’s Lodge No. 393, by Bro. J. Crow, on behalf of Mrs Smith, Magdalene Fields House, August 1914. Worn by her uncle, Bro. John Fox, who was surveyor of Berwick Pier under Sir John Rennie, and was used by him in the procession at the laying of the foundation stone, “July 27th, 1810.” The second bears a similar inscription, and was worn by her grandfather, Bro. John Good. There is a small trowal attached to this which was carried on the volume of the sacred law, in the procession and used in the ceremony.

Present Day Conditions in Germany: Mr D Thomas Curtin, whose articles and lectures descriptive of conditions in present day Germany have attracted much attention here and abroad, is to lecture in the Queen’s Rooms, on Wednesday, 31st inst., at seven p.m. Mr Curtin spent ten months in Germany, and during that period he travelled from one end of the country to the other, carefully noting what was going forward and the methods adopted by the authorities to cope with the famine brought about by the blockade. He will give his hearers an admirable opportunity of learning how the Germans succeed in organising for war, and the ruthless manner in which regulations are enforced. The lecture should be heard by everyone, and as a large audience is expected those desirous of being present should secure tickets immediately.

Soldiers’ Recreation Rooms. – The popularity of this institution as a resort for our local soldiers is well maintained. Every night the premises are well filled, and while supper is served in one room, innumerable letters written in another, great advantage is also taken of the concert hall. Last week was a specially busy one in the latter department. Tuesday saw the first tie in a whist contest; on Wednesday there was a concert; while every Sunday an hour is spent singing hymns. And in all this activity it is noticeable that the soldiers play the main part. A whist league has been formed consisting of eight teams of eight men each. Great keenness was shown in the first match, and the feature has been enthusiastically taken up. The concert proved a most enjoyable one. It was opened  by the orchestra, consisting of six instrumentalists, with a spirited rendering of “Sandy Mac,” and in response to an encore, “Stop Shorty” followed. Next came a song, “Scotland Yet.” by Private Mason. This soldier has a pleasing tenor voice, and while the audience, being mostly Scotch, would have liked a little more vim, he sang very sweetly. By way of variety Mr W. B. Dickinson told a few racy stories about bulls – the Highland, not the Irish variety. Private Burnett, a youthful soldier, gave a step dance, which was much appreciated. But the lion of the evening was Private Cumming, a splendid baritone, who sang, “Sons of a Nation.” A very few bars only were necessary to convince all that this handsome soldier had submitted his voice as well as his body to discipline and training. He is far above the ordinary run of vocalists. Praise in such a case would savour of patronage, but we may remark that his effort was hugely enjoyed and in response to rapturous applause he returned and sang “The Old Soldier” to the genuine delight of all present. A cornet solo, “Afton Water.” By Bugler Russell so pleased the audience that they insisted upon another, when the Bugler gave “Killarney.” The deep voice of Lance-Corporal Staples was heard in “When the ebb tide flows.” This was followed by another piece “Melodyland,” by the orchestra, and the concert closed with “God Save the King!”




A Berwick native, Mr William Purves, who resides in London, near the seat of the recent Munition factory explosion, writes as follows:-

The situation of the house is in close proximity to the centre of the explosion, and the remarkable part is that although all the other houses round about us were damaged in one way and another, such as a windows out, doors smashed, ceilings down, furniture upset, etc, we escaped with a broken lock, not even a window cracked. My wife and self are both natives of Berwick, she being the daughter of the late captain H. J. Rutherford, 61 Ravensdowne, and just a few hours before the explosion took place had received intimation of her mother’s death.

BRO 2103-4-2-71 Castlegate looking North mid 1900’s


That, coupled with the fact that she was thrown right across the room with the force of the explosion, causing a wound to her hand, completely unnerved her, but I am pleased to say she is progressing favourably. I am a Freeman of Berwick, serving my apprenticeship with Messrs J. Cockburn and Son, Castlegate. At present I am shop foreman of joiners in a munition works. My mother, who is still alive, and also a native of Berwick, resides at Cheviot View, Lowick.



Scouting at Stannington

Three Scouts practising map reading on a hospital veranda (ref: NRO 10510/2/2)

Three Scouts practising map reading on a hospital veranda (ref: NRO 10510/2/2)

Children were kept occupied in several ways during their long stays at Stannington, perhaps one of the more unexpected was by being able to join the hospital’s own Scout and Guide groups.

A patient’s stay at the Sanatorium (later Children’s Hospital) normally lasted for several months and often extended into years. Keeping children occupied during this time was an important consideration for the institution’s staff. Outside of attending the on-site school which all children did as soon as their recovery from illness allowed there were several ways the hospital staff kept children busy and entertained during their stays.

To provide children’s evening and weekend activities the sanatorium staff included a Welfare and Recreation Officer. At the start of the 1950s this role was held by Mr Holmes and it was his responsibility to organise and manage activities for the children. In this role he was a member of the Hospital House Committee which met to discuss and oversee the day to day running of the hospital. For each meeting he submitted a report of the various activities he’s arranged in the previous month. In his monthly report for the meeting of August 1950 he noted that:

“I have attended two meetings in conjunction with forming a Scout and Cub section at the Sanatorium. I think this is a helpful scheme for the boys, as some of them are already members of the Boy Scout Movement and if we form a group at the Sanatorium patients leaving would be transferred to Scout Clubs in their own district. …

…I also propose to form a Girl Guide Section.” (HOSP/STAN/1/2/5)

Report on Ralph Readers visit to Stannington in the Morpeth Herald, 29th January 1952

Report on Ralph Reader’s visit to Stannington in the Morpeth Herald, 29th January 1952

By the end of September 1950 four sections had been established; Scouts, Cubs, Guides and Brownies. In January 1952 Ralph Reader, actor, theatre producer and originator of the Scout Gang Show visited to hand the Scouts and cubs their first colours. On this occasion the membership, which totalled 40, including 22 Scouts, assembled on the veranda to receive the colours. Several troop members confined to bed were wheeled out onto the veranda to also be involved in proceedings.

Soon after this a Scout and Guide Group Committee was formed to oversee all 4 sections. At their meeting held on the 30th April 1952 Mr Holmes and Mrs Driver, the Scout and Guide leaders, reported on activities which had taken place:

“Two lessons on woodcraft and tracking and 2 scouts were to take their 2nd class badge. Mrs Driver reported that she now had 22 guides… … an expatient had been presented with the Badge of Fortitude at the Sanderson Orthopaedic Hospital and it was agreed that the Secretary write a letter of congratulations.”

 “Arrangements were being made to hold the competition for the Mitford Cup at the sanatorium and it was suggested that the committee might act as host.” (HOSP-STAN 1/2/14)

The Scout Troops posing for a photograph on the steps of a hospital veranda (NRO 10510/3/15)

The Scout Troops posing for a photograph on the steps of a hospital veranda (NRO 10510/3/15)

When it was held the Hospital Scout troop went on to win the Mitford Cup for their skill in knot making, knowledge of scouting law and oral relay skills. The range of activities undertaken by the Scouts carried on and even expanded to include Scout camps held in the grounds of the hospital as long as “Mr Holmes was present the whole time and returned the children to the ward each morning” (HOSP/STAN/1/2/14 9th July 1952).

Later that year Mr Holmes resigned as Welfare and Recreation Officer. In time he was replaced in this role by Mr Pullen and Douglas Johnstone took over as Scout Master. Douglas Johnstone, after his time with the Scouts, would go on to become to the General Secretary of the PCHA, later Children North East, the organisation which half a century earlier had originally built the sanatorium.

Activities carried on including a salvage drive, where used paper, bottles and jars were collected to sell and raise money, but it was decided not to collect bones due to the possibility of encouraging rats! This happened in conjunction with the normal activities of learning skills and gaining badges. In 1952 some scouts were noted in the Welfare and Recreation Officers report as being ready to sit tests for Semaphore and First Aid Badges and one guide had recently taken her Music Lover’s badge and was ready to take her Needlewoman’s Badge test.

Later the Scouts were allowed away from the hospital on troop outings. These included trips to places such as Northumberland National Park and the beaches of Craster, Alnmouth and Boulmer. Pictured below are 6 of the scouts whilst on an outing to Alnmouth in 1961.


Six members of the hospital Scout Troop on a trip to the coast near Alnmouth. (ref: NRO 10510/3/4)

The groups also carried out fundraising activities in addition to their salvage drive, hosting dances and other events. With the money they raised they contributed £40 to the purchase of 5 TVs by the committee which was set up to celebrate the queen’s coronation in 1953. The Girl Guides also contributed to the fundraising efforts which included having a stall at the 1952 sanatorium garden party and raising £22 towards the installation of radio throughout the hospital.

The short history of the Scout Troop at Stannington ended in the autumn of 1962 when Douglas Johnstone, the Scout Master, disbanded the troop. However we know the Guide and Brownie sections continued after this as in the spring of 1964 the hospital recreation hall was refurbished and a timetable drawn up for its use; this included a slot for the Girl Guides on a Monday night between 5pm and 7pm and a slot for the Brownies at the same time on Tuesday nights. Though the scouts only had a relatively short history the troop was just one of many ways we’ve came across in the patient files and other records in which children were kept occupied and entertained during their stays. You can read more about this in an earlier blog post here.