HERALD WAR REPORT: News, notices and adverts from the Morpeth Herald, March 31, 1916.
HERALD WAR REPORT: News, notices and adverts from the Morpeth Herald, March 31, 1916.

In this feature to commemorate the First World War, we will bring you the news as it happened in 1916, as reported by the Morpeth Herald. All material is published with kind permission of the Mackay family. We thank them for their support and generosity in allowing us access to their archive.

The Lord Lieutenant of the County has now inaugurated the Northumberland Guild of War Agricultural Helpers for the purpose of enlisting in difficult districts of the county helpers who are prepared to render war service by working on the land.

Wardens under the general direction of Mrs A.W. Straker have been appointed for many of the rural and urban districts, who will have the assistance of sub-wardens in the various parishes.

Steps will now be taken to register those who are prepared to assist either as individuals, making their own bargain with farmers (in which cases the Guild will act as an agency, to put the individual in touch with the employer) or as volunteers for occasional work under the auspices of the Guild.

Particulars of the scheme may be obtained from Mrs Straker, The Leazes, Hexham, or from the hon. secretaries of the Guild, The Moothall, Newcastle.


The intelligence that Captain and Adjutant the Hon. Sydney James Drewer Joicey, of the 10th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers, has been killed in France will be received with deep regret by all sections of the community in the North of England, and much sympathy will go out to his father (Lord Joicey) and other members of the family.

Lord Kitchener announced, by telegram, that the gallant captain had fallen whilst serving his King and country on Sunday last.

The Hon. Sydney Joicey, the third son of Lord Joicey, was born in 1884, and educated at Harrow and at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. in 1906 and M.A. in 1911.

He was formerly a lieutenant in the Montgomeryshire Yeomanry.


Second-Lieutenant Cecil Swinney, eldest son of Councillor R.N. Swinney, has been wounded in action.

A telegram received by his father yesterday morning states “that the wound was serious, but condition fairly good.”


Sir,— Mrs Dunn, Forrest Yard, has kindly given me 12/-, being the proceeds of the sale of poetry which she had printed and sold.

Through Mrs Dunn’s kindness I have been able to send 1,000 cigarettes to the Morpeth boys of the 7th N.F., somewhere in France. —Yours, etc.,


St. James’ Terrace, Morpeth


The poet has sung in raptures of Wanny’s rugged hills.

And many a noble song of Tyne the muse’s pages fills;

Coquet’s stream has been the theme of fisher-poets galore,

And one has sung exultingly of Wansbeck’s wooded shore;

So I will leave the beaten track to explore other parts,

And to be the first to sing the song of “Widdrington for clarts.”

From Stobswood down to Widdrington we have a grand parade,

To make it soft for tired feet with midden-ash it’s laid;

At evening, when the thrush’s song is wafted on the breeze,

The fragrance that is floating round would make a dead man sneeze.

This is the daily journey of the men from Ferneybeds,

As as they struggle through the glaur they carry high their heads;

Perhaps the smell makes them look up, or perhaps it cheers their hearts,

To know that no place can surpass Widdrington for clarts.

Our gallant lads in numbers vast have gone to fight the Hun,

And many a gallant action, report says, they have done;

Not all the mud of Flanders can daunt their gallant hearts —

They only think they are at home, when they’re up to the knees in clarts.

They thank the local Council and its members, every one,

That they have laid down such a road for us to walk upon;

The poet never had a theme which such a fire imparts,

As when he plodges down the road to Widdrington through clarts.



Pte. Sept. Webb of Wideopen, has been killed in action.

Lance-Corpl. Richard H. McDougal, of Otterburn, has died from dysentry.

Pte. C. Forder, son of Mrs C. Forster, of 92 Juliet Street, Hirst, has been killed in action.

Walter Sparks, son of Mr and Mrs Geo. Sparks, of Quality Row, Cambois, has died from wounds.

Pte. J.R. McCallum, son of Mr J. and Mrs L. McCallum, North Seaton, is reported killed in action.

Pte. Andrew Hamilton, husband of Mrs M.L. Hamilton, of Isabella Pit, Newsham, has been killed in action.

Pte. Thomas Tweedy, son of the late Robt. Tweedy, Morpeth, was killed in the trenches by a German sniper on March 9th.

Mrs Mary Tinkler, Eastern Villa, Forest Hall, has received official news that her son, Pte. Thomas Tinkler, has been killed in action.

Information has been received by Mrs E. Wright, Low Allotment, Backworth that her husband, Pte. Wm. Wright has been killed in action.

Thomas Burgon, son of the late Mr and Mrs Peter Burgon, of Berwick, was killed in action on March 9th. He was formerly employed as a pitman at Ashington.

F.W. Redpath, A.B., R.N.D., was reported wounded and missing on June 19th, 1915, on Gallipoli Peninsula, Dardanelles. Any information will be gratefully received by his father, Mr G. Redpath, 32 East Terrace, Bomersund Colliery, Stakeford, Choppington.


Sir,— It was with very great interest I read Mr W. Straker’s speech on “Conscientious Objectors” in your valuable paper of the 17th inst. He began with these words:— “When will the war end?”

I would like to particularly answer that question. I think I can do that better than Mr Straker, having been in the fighting line for some eight months, and I say with every emphasis: “Not with what the conscientious objectors are doing.”

I wonder what things would have been like if all men in Northumberland had been in the C.O.’s brigade, for it must be remembered we boast of something like thirty-four battalions, of which twenty-seven are on active service.

I wish the C.O.s could see the scenes in Flanders, see the ruined homes, churches, and other public buildings, not to mention the thousands of lives that have been lost, and I doubt if they would remain of the same opinion.

I think they ought to be ashamed to be called Britishers, for my idea of a Britisher is a man who will stand up for liberty and freedom even if he has to risk life itself.

Our friend says he is afraid the power of prayer has been on the wane in recent years. I must agree with him on that point; but does he think that after we have been guilty of that sin, we are now in the midst of a terrible war which is no doubt punishment, and that God is going to deliver us now by prayer alone?

I say no. We must pray and fight also.

We look up to our Lord Jesus Christ for our ideals. Did He never use violent measures? Yes, and we must also do the same, and fight on until, with His help, we being the oppressor to the ground.

I think that a man who applies for exemption on religious grounds is doing more to hinder the progress of Christianity than anyone I can think of.

We are taught self-sacrifice in the Church, and where is there a man who has suffered more in that way than he who has left a comfortable home, a lucrative position, in England, and come out here to brave the dangers, suffer the awful hardships and get the enormous sum of one shilling per day, while hundreds of his fellow countrymen are lying at home wriggling through the loophole of conscientious objection.

It makes our brave fellows here feel downhearted when they know that their brothers at home are funking it, and these men will want to share the liberty and freedom for which we are fighting.

They would most likely stand and cheer the men who enlisted at the beginning of the war, but now when the boot is on the other foot they have a different tale. So God help Britain if she is ever to rely on the “Conscientious Objectors.” —Yours, etc.,

19528 SERGT. J. BELL,

A Coy, 10th N.F.


A meeting of the Northumberland Education Committee was held yesterday at the Moothall, Newcastle, Sir Francis D. Blake, Bart., presiding.

The following report was presented by the Health and Attendance Sub-Committee:—

On consideration of (1) a report by the special sub-committee on their conference with the County War Agricultural Committee regarding the employment of children, not exempt from the legal obligation to attend school, in agricultural work; and (2) a letter from the Northumberland Coal Owners’ Association relative to the difficulty of maintaining the output of coal owing to the depletion in the number of surface labourers who are leaving the mines for military service, and urging that the school attendance regulations be relaxed so as to allow of the employment, on the surface at the mines, of boys under the age of 14 years.

Resolved to recommend that in districts where in connection with the agricultural and mining industries there is a bona fide deficiency of labour owing to the war, and efforts made to supply the deficiency by other means have failed, the Education Committee considers applications as follows:

(1) in respect of boys (and under exceptional circumstances girls) who have reached 13 years of age (and who are not otherwise entitled to exemption) for whom permanent employment of a suitable character is available;

(2) in respect of boys, who have reached the age of 12 years, for occasional employment under license, as follows:— from March 1st to November 30th (excluding holidays) there are approximately 300 school meetings. The license would permit the boys to be absent for 100 school meetings (50 days). The absences would be permitted according to requirements, but no single period of absence would be allowed to exceed four successive weeks (40 school meetings).

It would be expected that those desiring to take advantage of this arrangement — employers, parents and children — would co-operate with the Education Committee, the managers, and teachers in minimising, as far as possible, the dislocation of the school work. It should also be understood that a license would be immediately withdrawn if the system was abused in any way.

Mr John Craigs, chairman of the sub-committee, stated that the above recommendations had been given due publicity in the newspapers, and so far as they knew there had been no applications from colliery employers. Now there had been some applications on behalf of farmers, and those had been dealt with on the lines of this report.

Ald. T. Taylor understood that there would be no applications until this report was adopted. The recommendation was a fair solution. The tribunals were going to take a lot of men away from the screens at the mines, and no doubt the boys would do their work just as well. The only point that occurred to him in the recommendation was “permanent employment of a suitable character.” No collieries, he said, would put boys on work which was not suitable.

Ald. Jobling: The work they will have to do is on the screens. It is not of a very laborious character, picking stones out of the coal carried over the screens. I don’t think it is possible that boys of 12 years of age could do work of an arduous character, but they can do this sort of work. If these boys are not permitted to be employed, we will have to go for female labour, and a good many of us do not want that. If we do not get boy labour the only alternative is to stop concerns or have female labour.

Mr J. Craigs: There has been a circular from the Board of Education showing that we are on the right lines. It states that it is important that the Education Committee should exercise direct control over the matter.

Mr Weir did not think that any member of the committee would be at all anxious or agreeable that they should agree to child labour until it was really necessary. The point was that if the young men had to leave — and he had not doubt they would — he did not think that their work would be efficiently done by boy labour.

In Cumberland they were trying to meet the case in another direction. They had underground workers, between 60 and 70 years of age giving up work owing to it being too laborious, and they could be employed more efficiently in this work suggested for boys 13 and 14 years of age. He knew of some men who had sent in their names to the collieries offering to take up surface work to meet the present needs.

Apart from the old men, they had those in receipt of compensation, and although they would not be able to resume their ordinary work, it was possible for them to take on some lighter employment just for the period of the war, on the understanding that it would not affect their compensation, if that work should cease.

To take children away from school at 13 meant they would not get back to school again, and they would lose the best year of their education. He considered that they, as an education committee, should not interfere with the education of the children until every effort has been put forward to meet the needs or requirements of surface labour at the mines or on farms.

Chairman: The committee will see that no child is allowed to go unless they are satisfied that every effort has been made to get other labour.

Mr Nuttall: I don’t want to say anything against paragraph one, but I have considerable hesitation to giving approval to paragraph two. I know about the present conditions being exceptional, but we are upsetting the last 12 months the children have in school in a way which is not likely to be helpful. When they come back to school they will be unsettled and will unsettle others.

I think paragraph two should be confined to agriculture if it is to be put into operation at all. I will move that the words “in agricultural occupation” be put after the words “for occasional employment”. If this paragraph is carried I think it ought to be said that the status of no school will be affected adversely after the proposal is put into operation. If teachers help the committee they should not be penalised for so doing.

Canon Finch suggested that boys of 11 years could be employed in certain work.

Mr Craigs said this question had been carefully discussed, and it was only after some reluctance that they agreed to 12 years. The opinion was held by some at the committee meeting that they should not go below 13 years. At any rate they should not go below 12 years.

It was agreed that paragraph two of the recommendation be amended as proposed by Mr Nuttall. With this alteration, the report was adopted.


The Netherwitton Sewing Party, the funds of which are provided by the members, together with a few friends, have sent parcels of work to the following:— Miss Weston, Portsmouth (for sailors’ wives and children), 72 garments; The Barracks Hospital, Newcastle, 48 shirts; the 7th Northumberland Fusiliers and Tyneside Scottish, 40 pairs of socks —total, 160.

In all cases grateful acknowledgements have been received from the recipients.


The Commandant gratefully acknowledges the following gifts to the hospital:— Mrs Carr £1; Mrs Main, honey; Mrs Perceval, eggs; Mrs Tinsley, eggs; Mrs Tweedy, books; Mrs Tate, bread and cakes; Mrs Jos. Simpson, cake; Mrs Gray, cakes, sweets and cigarettes; Mrs Friedrich, tea; Miss McDowall, fruit.


A special effort is to be made locally to raise funds in aid of a very laudable object — the Y.M.C.A. War Emergency Fund, which provides recreation huts for our soldiers at home and abroad.

The effort is to take the form of a high-class concert, which is to be given in the Playhouse, Morpeth, on Thursday afternoon next.

All lovers of good music should make a point of attending the concert, for a great musical treat is in store for them. A splendid array of talented artistes has been got together for the occasion, including the well-known tenor, Mr Alec McCreadie, the Hon. Mrs Joicey’s string quartette of clever musicians, the Morpeth Gleemen (who have earned a capital reputation at concerts), Mrs J.R. Mitchell (the popular local contralto), and Miss Olive Reavell (sweet soprano singer) from Alnwick.

The concert is timed to commence at 2.30.


Tomorrow, April 1st, will be the 62nd anniversary of the “Herald.”

It is 62 years since the late James Mackay (grandfather of the present proprietors), with the assistance of his son William, started his little newspaper, “The Morpeth Monthly Herald,” which has been carried on by three generations of the Mackay family, who have given of their very best to promote the usefulness of the newspaper. In this respect we might mention the names of James Mackay, William Mackay, and his son James Mackay.

When the “Herald” started the country was in the throes of a terrible war — the Crimean War — like the present war days.

James Mackay, when he started his long-talked-of newspaper, had his printing office and shop at the premises occupied by Mr T. Wade, fruiterer, Bridge Street, and it was in the kitchen of the latter’s house that the “Herald” was first printed.

As a newspaper, the “Herald” has rather a unique history, especially as regards the methods of printing it. For four years it was printed in the Old Gaol Yard upon a Stanhope hand press, and it was very laborious work. In 1856 it was published fortnightly, when it was first printed on a printing machine, which was erected in an outhouse of the flour mill at the bottom of the Old Gaol Yard, and was driven by water power. Two years after it was published every week.

In 1886 the proprietor removed to the present premises in Bridge Street and had erected a new printing machine manufactured by A. Donnison, Newcastle, and widely know as the “Northumbrian Printing Machine.” An erection was put up for the printing machine to be worked by means of a pony — a method much used in those days — but it did not prove a success. Manual labour was tried for a time, but eventually a steam engine was procured for the working of the machine.

Owing to the increase of the circulation and in the size of the newspaper to meet the demands of advertisers, a two-feeder Brown printing machine was got for the printing of the paper. Shortly afterwards, a still quicker machine had to be obtained — a Main’s Two-Feeder, manufactured by Harrild and Sons, London. This was the early days of the introduction of the gas engine as a motive power, and one of Crossley Bros.’ atmospheric gas engines was got to drive the big printing machine. The requirements of the wide district in which the “Herald” circulated necessitated a still more rapid machine, and a fast Two-Feeder and Folder, manufactured by the Bremner Machine Co., of Otley, was laid down.

Nine years ago this plant was replaced by a two-reel Hoe Printing Press, worked by electricity, and the size of the “Herald” was increased to 12 pages, and on occasions to 16 pages, to meet the demands of advertisers.

It will thus be seen that the “Herald,” during its long career, has been printed by no less than seven methods.

The present terrible war weighs heavily upon newspaper proprietors, and we have not been excepted. Owing to the restriction in the supply of paper, we are compelled to economise in the consumption, and this week we are very reluctantly forced to reduce the size of the “Herald” from 12 pages to the original eight pages, but really there are only eight columns less.

The future is fraught with so much uncertainty that we may be compelled to further reduce the size of the “Herald,” but it will be our utmost endeavour to keep up the standard of the newspaper, and we hope that this reduction will be only of a temporary character.