This feature to commemorate the First World War brings you the news as it happened in 1914 as reported by the Morpeth Herald. It is published with kind permission of the Mackay family. We thank them for their support and generosity in allowing us access to their archive.
MORPETH RECRUITING STATION
The recruiting station in the Corn Exchange, Town Hall, Morpeth, has been getting busier and busier, there having been between 300 and 400 recruits secured since the work began.
It is felt more keenly than ever that there should be a still heartier and more general response to the urgent appeal for men to fill the ranks of Lord Kitchener’s new army. He, and the military authorities generally, now see that the 100,000 at first asked for are not nearly the numbers that will be needed.
MORPETH WOMEN’S SEWING MEETINGS
The Mayoress sent on Thursday to H.M. Queen Mary, at St James’ Palace, a bale containing the following garments:— 56 day shirts, 21 night shirts, 4 sets pyjamas, 18 bed jackets, 36 pairs of socks, 3 pairs bed socks, 10 pocket handkerchiefs, 1 bundle of children’s clothing for Belgian refugees, and 3 cholera belts.
This is the result of a fortnight’s work.
The Communicants’ Union are kindly providing tea at the next sewing meeting on Thursday, 10th September, the proceeds to be given to the fund. The charge for tea will be 3d. each.
BLYTH BROTHERS’ PATRIOTISM
“Is patriotism, as evinced in martial ardour, a family characteristic?” asks a correspondent, who states that a Blyth widow has three sons. Two have gone to the front and the third announced his determination to join the Army. The mother asked if two out of three was not a sufficient sacrifice. “No,” was the reply, “if they can fight their country’s battle so can I,” and he went forth.
LORD RIDLEY’S EMPLOYEES
At a meeting of the employees on the Blagdon estate of Lord Ridley, his Lordship pointed out the great need there was for recruits, and that it was essential that all who could do so should enlist. He intimated also that where married men presented themselves for enlistment their wives and families would be provided for during their absence, and in all cases situations would be kept open for the men on their return.
At the close of the meeting 30 per cent of the employees volunteered for service, and presented themselves for enlistment at Newcastle, on Monday. All were accepted but one.
THE WAR RELIEF FUND
Sir,— The Emergency Relief Committee think it well to give full information as to what they have done now that they have been at work three weeks.
They have given relief in 163 cases. Of these cases, 74 were miners working at Morpeth Moor, 38 at Pegswood, 26 at other collieries. In 8 cases temporary relief was given where the husband had enlisted, pending the payment of the Government allowance. Seventeen cases were miscellaneous, e.g., labourers thrown out of work by stoppage of contract jobs. No case was relieved where the distress could not be traced to the war.
It will be seen that the two nearest collieries account for 70 per cent of the cases. If these two pits could work regularly three days a week, the distress consequent on the war would be reduced to a minimum.
The amount given away in money during the first week was £19. In the second week orders for provisions only were given, to the amount of £39, and in this week to the amount of £20. The pinch was most severe in the second week, because the pits had been practically at a standstill for a fortnight.
The committee have adopted a scale of relief, the most important factor of which is the number of children in the family. Each case is investigated as carefully as possible, and the amount of income from all sources is taken into consideration before a grant is made. In two cases where it was proved that the applicants had concealed the true facts, relief was refused.
The committee realise that mistakes may have been made, but they believe that their prompt action in dealing with urgent cases relieved a large amount of temporary distress and stopped any risk of pain.
Council Chamber, Morpeth.
Thursday, September 3, 1914.
TEACHERS ARRIVE FROM GERMANY
A very happy ending is to be recorded of the unpleasant adventures of a party of English ladies who were holiday-making in Germany when the war broke out.
Amongst them were Miss Isabella Mason, daughter of Mr Mason, manager of Seaton Delaval Co-operative Society, and Miss E. Mackay, a school teacher at the Seaton Delaval School.
The ladies were at Konigsburg — which at present is being invested by the Russians — when war was declared, and the party lost no time in hurrying to Hamburg, apprehending the danger of tarrying in the land of the Kaiser.
Travelling by night, they reached Hamburg, where they had a fortnight’s enforced stay.
The ladies managed to get on a boat bound for Grimsby, upon which over 500 had booked passages. They were on this boat two nights when they were ordered ashore by the German military authorities. The vessels were prevented from leaving the port, which was mined.
The ladies were not badly treated, being under police protection. The ladies visited the American Consul’s office twice daily, and it was doubtless largely due to the influence of the English-speaking Yankee that the exiles fared so well.
Hope and fear alternated with them, for one day they were overjoyed at the issue of a notice that they would be free to leave, but next day, to their alarm, that notice was withdrawn, and for many days they waited wearily and anxiously until they heard that four ladies who belonged to Sunderland had obtained permission to leave the country.
The Seaton Delaval ladies went to the Dutch Consulate and arranged for being taken to Holland. On Saturday they arrived at Flushing, and from thence journeyed safely home.
The ladies state that they were kindly treated by the Germans.
At a meeting of a local relief committee, it was intimated that one of the rules of distribution was that any unmarried man below the age of 30 who applied for relief should be referred to the nearest recruiting officer.
Notwithstanding the fact that Great Britain has been for a month engaged in the greatest European war she has ever been involved in, the prices of provisions are just about normal.
We notice in one of our provision shops flour quoted at very best 2/- per stone; other qualities, 1/10, 1/8 and 1/6 per stone. During the last great European war, the price of flour was from 3/6 to 5/- per stone, and the quality was so bad that it was difficult to bake and not very good to eat.
MESSAGES DROPPED FROM AEROPLANES
The attention of the public is called to the possibility of messages being dropped from aeroplanes. The messages will be enclosed in a weighted canvas bag, fastened with two spring clips, attached to which are two streamers of blue, red and yellow cloth. Any person finding or seeing such a bag should at once open it and take steps to forward the enclosed message to the person for whom it is intended.
A meeting of the Morpeth Albion Club was held this week. It was stated that several members of the club had enlisted, and that there was a likelihood of more doing so. In consequence it was decided that the team should be disbanded for the season.
Morpeth Y.M.C.A. Club has also lost several of its playing members, who have gone in the service of their country. This club is down to play Barrington tomorrow, in an Ashington and District League match, but there is a possibility of the team being disbanded ere they play their first fixture.
The granting of a temporary commission to Viscount Howick as a captain in the Regular Forces was gazetted on Saturday night.
BLYTH TRADER STRIKES MINES
The steamer Bretland arrived in Blyth at 8 o’clock on Friday morning, and reported having struck two mines.
A “Herald” representative boarded the vessel, and in the course of an interview with crew was informed that about 3 o’clock yesterday morning the ship, when about 30 miles from the Tyne, struck a mine, which exploded with great force. The vessel, which did not suffer any evident damage, was slowed down, and three minutes later struck a second mine. An examination of the ship showed no damage above the water-line. There was only one vessel in sight, a British torpedo.
The vessel was safely berthed and will be examined before receiving her cargo of coal, as it is considered the bottom may be damaged.
The vessel, which is a regular trader to Blyth for coal, belongs to the Danish Coal Co., of Copenhagen. The crew expressed surprise at the Admiralty allowing fishing vessels off the coast, and believe that the mine field has been the work of fishing craft engaged by the Germans.
FOOTBALL AND FIGHTING
Speaking at the Spartans’ football ground, Blyth, on Saturday, during an interval in a practice match, Earl Grey remarked he had seen them at football. If, he added, all of them had a rifle with a bayonet at the end, it would scare the heart out of every German who came within a thousand yards of them. (Applause.)
They had district recruiting stations on the spot, and he pointed out that it was the desire of the authorities to keep men who recruited together in one unit, so that there would be no separation of pals.
“We want a miners’ battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers,” remarked Earl Grey. “You know what Northumberland Fusiliers are — the ‘Fighting Fifth’. (Loud cheers.) If you want to add to the glory of the ‘Fighting Fifth’, now is your time.”
The speaker observed that those men who could go, but were too proud, or did not want to go, or were too selfish to go, would carry with them to their graves the feeling that they had not played the game. (Cheers.)
COMMUNICATION FROM L.G.B.
Morpeth R.D. Council
The Clerk read a circular from the Local Government Board with reference to the necessity of great care in sanitary conditions at the present time.
Many of the doctors, inspectors, etc., had been called to the service of their country, and circulars requested councils to see that the work was not neglected.
Another circular requested the Council to use their power by getting retail dealers not to discharge members of their staff. If economy was necessary, advise them to try and effect it some other way.
A third epistle was to the effect that the Council might grant leave of absence to any officials called on service, allow them part or whole salary, and appoint temporary assistance.
THE MANCHESTER UNITY OF ODDFELLOWS
Sir,— To all members of the Manchester Unity of Oddfellows who are thinking of volunteering for active service, and to those who have already volunteered, the Unity has undertaken to pay the contribution of every member who joins the Army. The Unity also binds itself to pay the full rate of sickness benefit should any member be incapacitated from wounds, sickness, or accident while serving with the colours; and, of course, continues to pay the death legacy should any member lose his life.
Should a member fail to obtain employment when resuming civil life, we will do our utmost to assist him.
The Oddfellows are essentially all strong men, free from bodily defects, otherwise they would not have been granted the rights and privileges of membership. It is clearly the duty of every English citizen at the present time — who is within the age limit — to volunteer, and it would be a very great credit indeed if all members who are qualified will enlist at the earliest possible moment. Remember, brothers, that your empire is very seriously menaced, and on the issue of this war depends our liberty, and, indeed, our very existence.
The trouble was not of our seeking, and it behoves every man, by his obligation to his society, to do his share of our glorious work, that ultimately we may re-establish God’s peace on earth. As Oddfellow, we are bound to do our duty towards God, our neighbours, and ourselves. Now we have a chance of doing so afforded us, let us one and all present our services to our King and country in their hour of need.
I may add that in the county of Northumberland alone we have a membership of seven thousand and of these over two thousand will be qualified for military duties.
To these members I now appeal to uphold the glorious traditions of our illustrious order, and I sincerely hope that this two thousand will rush forward as soon as possible and offer themselves as recruits.
John Alexander Hume L.F.I.
Acting Prov. C.S., Stannington District, Blagdon.
CLOSING OF PUBLIC HOUSES
Amble Urban District Council
Mr Douglas moved that they ask the licensing justices to close all the public houses in Amble at 9 o’clock, and that they write to the clubs in the district and ask them to concur with this.
Mr Earnshaw was in favour of the resolution. He went on to say that in the harbour at the present time they had a number of ships with crews of various nationalities. Amongst these were 23 Germans, 7 Russians, 147 Norwegians and Finns, 30 English. This was a floating population. These meeting together and getting a little too much liquor had led to disturbances, and he thought it would be much better if the public houses and the clubs were closed.
The resolution was carried unanimously.
Mr Foreman said the Bench, at the last Amble Petty Sessions sent a recommendation to the Alnwick Bench to close the public houses at 9 o’clock during the war, but they ignored it.
Mr Dixon said they had adopted the 9 o’clock closing at Durham with very favourable results.
WOODHORN VICAR ON WAR LESSONS
The Rev. O. Rhodes, vicar of Woodhorn, writing in the “Church Magazine” referred to the lessons of the war.
The article proceeds:— “It is all very well to say in our hearts: England is a prosperous country; there is always help forthcoming in a rich land like ours. We shall never starve, and when we get old we will have an old age pension, so there is no need to curtail our pleasures, our attendance at the picture halls and football shows; no need to give up our little gambling and bridge parties into the small hours of the night — no need to be told that a fellow may not drink a dozen glasses of beer now and then. It is all very well to talk that way, but all such shock extravagance may bring its terrible revenge and this war will try us for not having saved more when we had a chance and for having been such utter fools.”
INFORMATION FROM THE FRONT
The War Office has issued a memorandum to assist enquirers to obtain in the most direct manner information as to the health and safety of officers and men, the payment of family allowances, the administration of estates of deceased officers and men, etc.
It states that information that can be made known consistently with the public interest regarding the progress of operations, movements of troops, and matters of general interest, is communicated to the Press and the news agencies through the Official Bureau. It will not be made known in any other manner.
When any information is received as to the health or safety of an officer, it is at once telegraphed from the War Office to his next-of-kin; it is also communicated to the Press and the news agencies. In the case of Territorial Force officers serving at home, the information will be made from the Territorial Force Record Office.
Any enquiry regarding the payment of separation allowance or an allotment of pay to the family of a soldier of the Regular Army, or of the Special Reserve, should be addressed to the regimental paymaster of that soldier’s unit. In the case of soldiers of the Territorial Force, application regarding separation allowance should be addressed to the Territorial Force Association which raised and administers the unit.
Administration of deceased officers’ and soldiers’ estates and the necessary distribution to their legal personal representatives or otherwise, are dealt with at the War Office. All enquiries in connection therewith should be addressed to the Secretary, War Office, Whitehall, London.
Applications regarding widows’ pensions and compassionate allowances in the case of deceased officers should be addressed to the Secretary, War Office. In the case of deceased soldiers, enquiries should be addressed to the officer in charge of records.
POSITION OF AFFAIRS
So far there should be little or no distress in Ashington, as the pits have been working regularly. Last week most of the pits were working five days, while up to yesterday they had been working all the days of this week. There may be distress among families the bread-winners of which have answered the call of their country, but the society for looking after the wives and children of soldiers and sailors are doing their utmost to alleviate same.
The local committee of the National Relief Fund have collected about £170, which includes £100 from the Industrial Co-operative Society (including Morpeth branch), while Ashington Football Club have handed over a cheque for £15 19s. 2d as “gates” taken in aid of the fund.
PATRIOTIC COLLIERY OWNERS
With a view to assisting the recruiting for Lord Kitchener’s Second Army, the Seghill Coal Co. are making the following offer to those of their workmen who join the colours, viz, they will allow wives and families to remain in their colliery houses rent free; in addition, they will allow the wife 1/- per week and each child 1/- per week, and a free load of coal once a month. Those that are living in rented houses the colliery will pay the rent allowance as if the husband was working. The wives and children will also receive the above weekly allowance and coal. In the case of a widower joining the colours who has children, those left in charge of the children will receive 1/- a week for each child. On return their work will be open for them.
TO THE CRICKET LOVING PUBLIC
Sir,— We, as cricketers, make a direct appeal to the vast cricket-loving public on behalf of the Prince of Wales’ Fund.
This fund, which has been called into being by his Royal Highness to meet the countless cases of misery and hardship which must inevitably follow on the heels of war, makes an instinctive and instantaneous appeal to the generosity of the public, and we, as cricketers, know that there is no public so sportsmanlike and so generous as the cricketing crowd.
As the Prince has truly said, “this is a time when we all stand by one another.” All of us as a nation are members of a national team.
If only at this moment of trial we could gather in the sums which have been paid as gate-money at cricket matches, those on whom the war has laid a desolating hand would benefit indeed. The wives and families of our soldiers and sailors would at least be secure from want.
It is this thought which has given rise to this appeal. We ask all those who have watched us play, and who have cheerfully paid their half-crowns, shillings, and sixpences as gate-money to step forward and contribute over again their half-crowns, shillings, and sixpences to the Prince’s fund.
Let everyone who has followed cricket recall to mind the matches he has witnessed and enjoyed, and let each one contribute according to the pleasantness of his memories. Then we shall have for those whom the war has robbed, not only of happiness, but even of the means of livelihood, a truly royal sum.
Without any undue spirit of self-importance, we may say that we have contributed not a little to the interest the public takes in cricket, and therefore, we make this personal appeal to all those who love the game to send whatever they can spare to H.R.H. The Prince of Wales, Buckingham Palace, London, S.W.
J.W.H.T. Douglas, F.R. Forster, F.H. Gilingham, W.G. Grace, Harris, T. Hayward, G. Hirst, J.B. Hobbs, G.L. Jessop, W. Rhodes, R.H. Spooner, P.F. Warner, F.E. Wooley.
TROUBLE AT PEGSWOOD
Unfortunately there exists at Pegswood at the present crisis a regrettable relationship between the owners and workmen, which it is hoped may be amicably adjusted. The following has been communicated from the workmen’s representative:—
Up to September 1st Pegswood Colliery has only worked four days since August 2nd. On Monday last, Mr Fraser, the owner, attended Pegswood to meet representatives of the main body of workmen.
He stated that owing to the outbreak of war prices had dropped 2s. per ton, and that the coal produced during the four days worked had been at a considerable loss, and with the prospect of extra cost of timber, insurance, etc., unless he had an improvement in the output per man he would have to think seriously of closing the pit.
He stated that the pit had been examined by an expert from Durham, and his report was that the production should be at least three tons per man. Unless he had that production he could go on no longer.
He pointed out that if men had an impression that they would receive support from the several funds it was a mistaken idea.
That was conveyed to a very large meeting, and seeing the production had for a considerable time been something like 2 tons 13cwt., the attitude of Mr Fraser was bitterly resented, and the following resolution was carried unanimously:— “That the message conveyed by deputation from Mr Fraser to the workmen of Pegswood Colliery is an insult and aspersion on their honesty. Further, that we treat the message with the contempt it deserves.”
SCARCITY OF POTASH MANURE
In a communication from Armstrong College, Newcastle, it is observed:— The Board of Agriculture has drawn the attention of agriculturists and others to the fact that the country’s supply of artificial potash manures comes almost entirely from Germany, and that the existing stocks are small and importation at present impossible.
It is important to note that the urine of farm animals contains far more potash than the dung.
Under the special circumstances, therefore, it is important that all possible urine and liquid manure should be soaked up to the utmost extent this winter.
A BLYTH SEND-OFF
There was an enthusiastic scene at Blyth station on Wednesday afternoon, when 365 recruits left for active service, which makes close upon 700 men despatched from Blyth station. Many of these have come from Cambois, Cowpen, Crofton, New Delaval and Hartley collieries.
On Wednesday there was a large crowd to see the lads off, it being the half-holiday. The Cowpen Colliery Band, augmented by the drummers of the Boy Scouts, headed a procession of the recruits and played national and inspiring airs. There were some moving scenes as mothers, sisters, wives and children parted with the departing soldiers. Amid cheers, a salvo of fog-signals and the band playing “The Girl I Left Behind Me,” the train steamed out of the station.
Following an interview with the War Office, the Football Association has drawn up a scheme whereby the sport of football may assist in obtaining recruits for the Army.
The association heartily desires to assist the authorities, and places its whole organisation and influence at the service of the War Office.
Among the proposals are the following:— Clubs to be requested to place their grounds at the disposal of the War Office on days other than match days as drill grounds, etc. Where matches are played, arrangements to be made for well-known public men to address players and spectators, urging the men who are physically fit to enlist at once. It is hoped that where special matches are arranged to encourage enlistment, the whole of the net gate receipts will be given to a war relief fund.
Alex Trotter, Ashington’s left-wing player, has been called to the front. In his place the Colliers have signed on James Stephenson, an Ashington man, who returns home after spending two seasons with Luton and one with Queen’s Park Rangers.
FATHER AND SON GO TOGETHER
Little Bebside Colliery has sent to the King’s service the excellent contribution of over 100 recruits.
A notable example of ardour was that amongst those who left on Wednesday was John Fenwick and his son. He is a brother of Charles Fenwick, M.P, for the Wansbeck division.
TOO SERIOUS A TIME TO PLAY
In consequence of the European war, the members of the Annitsford United Football Club, of the first division of the Blyth and District League, have decided to abandon all their fixtures for the season as they think the country is passing through too serious a crisis to think anything about playing football.
The chairman of the club, Mr H. Mair, who is a reservist, has left the district to join his battalion at Belgium, and many of the young men of the Annitsford and Dudley district are joining the colours.
RECRUITING COMMITTEE FORMED
There was a large attendance of men in the Council Chambers, Ashington, last evening, when a recruiting committee composed of men over forty-five years of age was formed with about eighty members.
It was agreed to hold a demonstration and procession on Saturday, when speeches could be given in the football club ground.
It was proposed that the various bands, local bodies, and Boy Scouts should be asked to join in a procession to parade the streets, previous to the meeting.
PRIME MINISTER AND RECRUITING
The following letter has been addressed by the Prime Minister to the Lord Mayor of London, the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, the Lord Mayor of Dublin, and the Lord Mayor of Cardiff:—
My Lord,— The time has come for combined effort to stimulate and organise public opinion and public effort in the greatest conflict in which our people has ever been engaged. No one who can contribute anything to the accomplishment of this supremely urgent task is justified in standing aside.
I propose, as a first step, that meetings should be held without delay, not only in our great centres of population and industry, but in every district, urban and rural, throughout the United Kingdom, at which the justice of our cause should be made plain, and the duty of every man to do his part should be enforced.
I am ready myself, so far as the exigencies of public duty permit, to render such help as I can. I have reason to know that I can count upon the co-operation of the leaders of every section of organised political opinion.
Your faithful servant,
All the political parties have agreed to devote their organisation to the work of stimulating recruiting.
All images are either adverts or editorial pages from the Morpeth Herald, September 4, 1914.