AT a recent meeting of Morpeth Rotary Club, members were disappointed to learn that the guest speaker was ill and could not come.
But Rotary member and ex-Mayor of Castle Morpeth Clive Temple had heard about the problem and saved the day by giving a talk based on his old mayoral speeches.
He thought the town’s latin motto, which means ‘living along woods and streams’, is still true.
Before the First World War the population was about 6,000. Many were living in squalid conditions in old rows of houses. There were many to a room and barefoot children.
The cattle market was in front of the Town Hall before it moved to where the leisure centre now is, then to the right side of Stobhill. A problem was cattle wandering into shops. One cow went upstairs in a house and stuck its head out of the bedroom window.
A Morpeth Alderman was arrested for poaching in the Coquet. The Water Bailiffs had to attend at court to give evidence against him, but he did not turn up as he knew the coast was clear for more poaching while they were at court.
Making decisions about what needed to be done in Morpeth was conveniently sorted out over a pint at the Queen’s Head. Slum clearance was tackled by the council in the 1930s, with model houses being built at Stobhill.
Clive’s uncle Harry lived in an old farm steading that is still there at Stobhill Grange and owned much of the nearby land. The Charletons owned Stobhill, which they sold and moved to Parish Haugh.
Council houses were built at a great rate until the 1960s, with a great increase in private housing later.
Ron Bowey built the leisure centre which Clive opened as mayor, though some would have preferred Princess Anne.
He is named on a plaque there and on another at an old people’s home in Dacre Street.
There are still many fine old buildings in Morpeth, including the Clock Tower where the curfew continues to be rung every night at 8pm, the Town Hall with the old Council Chamber, St Mary’s Church with the Jesse Window and watch tower to look out for body snatchers, the Castle, now a holiday home, and Dobson’s Court House, now flats.
His family lived at Wansbeck Street, his granddad lived near the Joiner’s Arms and once lived at the Castle.
As mayor, he was expected to ride the 17 miles of the bounds, although he was not a horse rider and needed 10 riding lessons to prepare.
A council meeting he was chairing was disrupted because of the poll tax, though the angry crowd took care to point out that it was Mrs Thatcher they disliked not him.
He had an interesting year and particularly enjoyed the limousine with the Castle Morpeth Coat of Arms.