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.
Usually at this season of the year there is a large influx of visitors to the ancient borough, but the continuance of the war and the fact that cheap railway travelling is a thing of the past will prevent many coming over the Eastertide.
Good Friday regularly witnessed the opening of the cycling season, but the ordinary push bicycle for pleasure runs has now been superceded by the motor cycle and the two seater, which enables pleasure-seekers to travel much farther afield.
By the way, the usual arrangements have been made by the Mayor and members of the Corporation for the holding of the children’s sports in Tommy’s field on Easter Monday. All that is wanted to ensure their success is good weather.
A LUCKY DEFENDANT
Some surprising things take place at local courts. At a Morpeth court recently a youth preferred a charge of assault against a man who said he had knocked him down by a blow, without provocation. The defendant did not appear, stating that he was better engaged in the mine.
The magistrate let him off on payment of half-a-crown, and disallowed the complainant witnesses’ expenses, stating that he should not have been at court either.
EMPLOYMENT OF DISCHARGED SOLDIERS
The Military Committee of the Newcastle and Gateshead Chamber of Commerce have appointed a sub-committee to find employment for wounded or disabled soldiers of the various battalions of the Northumberland Fusiliers which are known locally as the “Commercial” Battalions.
The committee has already on their books several men who are anxious to obtain employment and who have recently been discharged from the Army as medically unfit.
Mr T. McBryde is the secretary of the committee and he will be glad to receive applications at his office at the Guildhall Newcastle-on-Tyne from any persons who are wanting men at the present time when interviews might be arranged between the prospective employer and the would-be employee.
Some of these men have been in the “Commercial” Battalions for a considerable time, but have broken down under the stress of the severe training which all troops have to pass through before they go to the front, and consequently an open-air life as far as possible would be the thing which would benefit most of them for some time to come.
Lord Armstrong presided at the meeting of the Rothbury Tribunal on Monday. There were present Colonel Orde, Rev. Blackett-Orde, the Rev. Gibson-Smith, Mr George Anderson, Mr J.R. Stephenson, Mr J.H. Hedley, Mr R. Young, Mr H. Orde, Mr Fenwick Clennell (military representative), Mr M. Wade (clerk).
The case of a carrier was considered. With his wife and a boy the applicant managed the business. After the case had been stated Colonel Orde moved and Mr Stephenson seconded that total exemption should be granted.— This was agreed to.
The case of a horse-shoer was considered. Mr Anderson said there was not another man capable of doing the work within 15 miles.— It was proposed to adjourn the case until next meeting of the tribunal. The Rev. Mr Gibson remarked that they should adopt some definite means of dealing with such cases and not put them off from time to time. On the motion of Mr Stephenson, it was decided to put the case back until May 12th.
A farmer’s wife appeared to claim exemption for a ploughman and a shepherd. She had 150 acres of grass land and 40 acres of arable land. Her husband was too old to do the ploughing. She had another son who was a shepherd. Lord Armstrong asked which son she would send away, as it was for her to decide. The applicant said that she could not part with either of her sons. She said her husband was unable to work.— The claim was disallowed.
An application was made for total exemption in the case of a man who was on a farm of 220 acres. The only other man employed was 70 years of age. Lord Armstrong remarked that there was no such thing as total exemption, as all such applicants could be called again, but it was agreed to grant exemption to the applicant for the time being.
An application for an exemption was made by a farmer for a man, who said already three men had left the farm to join the army. Lord Armstrong said that was a very creditable record.— The application was granted.
The Rev. Blackett-Orde, during the consideration of a case, referred to the need of some thorough method of dealing with cases and considering the possibilities of getting labour on farms from wounded soldiers and others. The matter had been before the Advisory Committee. Mr Stephenson remarked that if the military representative could use his power to decide what should be done it was no use them sitting there. The Clerk remarked that the military representative had a right to review each case, though, of course, there was always the right to appeal.
In the case of an appeal where there were two sons, Mr Stephenson remarked that in such cases they should send one of the sons away and not seek to send the hired man away.
In the case of a grocer of military age, absolute exemption was given. Mr Stephenson said he disagreed with the decision in view of the demands made on agriculturalists. He held that a grocer had not such important work as a ploughman.
NORTHUMBERLAND MINERS’ PICNIC
The Northumberland Miners’ lodges have just voted on the question as to whether the Association should again refrain from holding its summer picnic this year, as it did last year, on account of the war, and the results show that the collieries were nearly unanimous against holding the gala.
In a general way it is held in the month of July. This year it will be abandoned in accordance with the votes of the branches.
WOUNDED SOLDIERS ENTERTAINED
A most enjoyable concert, organised by Mr R.J. Luke, conductor of the Playhouse Orchestra, was given in the V.A.D. Hospital, Morpeth, on Tuesday afternoon.
Mr Fred Tinsley, manager of the Playhouse, who presided, provided cigarettes for the sick and wounded soldiers. A more varied and interesting programme of vocal and instrumental music could not have been desired, and every item rendered was received with rounds of applause.
The Playhouse Orchestra opened the concert with pleasing selections. Songs were excellently sung by Miss P. Mackay, Mrs R.J. Luke, Miss Violet Kelly, and Mr Alfe Rowe. By kind permission of the Playhouse management, the Sisters Royal, harmonising vocalists, and Leo Tell and Page, novelty and comedy mimicking duettists, appeared and entertained the audience immensely. A pretty dance was given by Baby Luke. Mr Jack Potts also danced to perfection. Trooper G. Smith, in song and dance was greatly appreciated. A violin solo was finely played by Mr Proudlock. In a duet, Miss V. Kelly and Miss Ethel Whittle were heard to advantage.
Mrs F Brummell proposed a vote of thanks to the artistes and chairman, which was carried by acclamation. Mr Tinsley suitably replied. The piano was kindly lent by Mr Woodhead.
A GRATIFYING RESULT
The promoters of the concert held at Morpeth recently in aid of the Y.M.C.A. War Emergency Fund — a fund which has been instrumental in providing recreation huts for our soldiers at home and abroad — have every reason to feel gratified at the great success which attended their well directed effort.
This deserving fund will benefit to the extent of £32 18s, and this sum has been forwarded to the headquarters by the treasurer of the concert.
ROLL OF HONOUR
Lance-Corporal A. Malton, of Astley Road, Seaton Delaval, has been killed in action.
Private W. McGarrigle, N.F., of Seaton Delaval, is reported killed.
Private A. Wollendale, East Yorks, of Bedlington, has been drowned at Alexandria.
Lance-Corporal N. Tucker, N.F., of Hartford Colliery, has been killed.
Private William Bainbridge, son of Mr and Mrs W. Bainbridge, of Co-operative Terrace, Seaton Delaval, has died from wounds.
Word has been received at Blyth of the death of Private F. Lambert, of the East Yorks, and Lance-Corporal Fred Robinson, Northumberland Fusiliers.
Trooper Robert Dockeray, Lancers, husband of Mrs E. Dockeray, Ashburton Terrace, Gosforth, has been killed in action. He leaves a widow and three children.
Mrs Merryweather, of Bridge Buildings, Annitsford, has been informed that her husband, Private William Merryweather, has been killed in action. Private Merryweather worked at Burradon Colliery, and was 34 years of age.
Private L. Cuthbert, son of Mrs Snowdon of Seaton Hirst and the late Lancelot Cuthbert of North Seaton, has been killed in action. This is the second son Mrs Snowdon has lost, Private Kingsley Cuthbert having been killed last August.
Official news has been received by Mrs Henderson, of Lord Hood Yard, Morpeth, that her husband, Private T. Henderson, of the Northumberland Fusiliers, who has been missing since the 16th June, is now reported killed.
Mr and Mrs Wm. Tucker, of Ormston Street, Hartford Colliery, have received information that their son Lance-Corporal Norman Tucket, of the Northumberland Fusiliers, who was previously reported as missing, is now reported by the War Office as being killed in action on September 26th. He was 25 years of age, and leaves a widow but no family.
RED CROSS HOSPITAL, MORPETH
The Commandant acknowledges with grateful thanks the following gifts:— Sale of dols, £1, Mrs Carr; Miss Annie Walton, £3 6s, proceed of two concerts given by herself; eggs, Mrs Cecil Perceval, Miss Patty Wake, Miss Hopper, Mrs F. Tinsley, Anonymous; apples and flag, Miss McDowall; cake, Mrs Jos. Simpson; socks, Miss Clark, Mrs Pringle (Tritlington); sponge-bags, Mrs F, Brumell; face flannels, Mrs Hudson, Burnmoor; flowers and plant, Miss Simpson, Hepscott; flowers, Mrs Coble, Master John Dunn, Anonymous; books, Mrs Philip, Miss Dunn, Miss Anderson.
She also thanks Mr F. Tinsley and artistes from the Morpeth Playhouse for the enjoyable entertainment given to the patients on the afternoon of the 17th inst., with grateful thanks to Mr Woodhead for kindly lending the piano for the same.
WANSBECK MOTOR CLUB
The annual gathering of the Wansbeck Motor Club was held at the Portland Hotel, Ashington, County Councillor J.J. Hall presiding.
The Secretary (Mr G.T. Herron) reported that 20 members out of an active list of 50, were serving with the forces in the A.S.C., Flying Corps, Infantry, Yeomanry, R.E., Navy, Motor Transport, and R.A.M.C., the only branch in which they were not represented being submarines.
The financial position was considered satisfactory, the club having a credit balance of £5.
Owing to petrol scarcity and the shortage of members, it was decided to abandon the usual programme of competitions, but occasional runs will be held, the opening run being on Good Friday, meeting at Longhorsely at 2. It was also decided to reduce subscriptions for the season to cover affiliation fees and bare working expenses.
NORTH SEATON CONCERT
A very successful concert was held in the North Seaton Hippodrome on Friday night last in aid of the Serbian Relief Fund, Major R. Crawford, of Morpeth, presided over a large audience.
In his opening remarks the chairman said that it gave him great pleasure to take the chair for such a good object as to assist our gallant ally, Servia, in the great sacrifice which she was being called upon to make in the present war. Servia was a small country, and a very poor one, but was proud of her national life. No nation in the present struggle had suffered more than she had. Their country was over-run by the Germans, but the record of her army and the defence she had put up would form one of the most heroic chapters in the history of the war.
This country had primarily entered into this war to defend small nationalities against the German bully but they ought to make no mistake about it that, at the same time, they were fighting today for their own existence.
The chairman then congratulated North Seaton upon the large number of men that had joined the Colours from that district, and also those who were at home for the way in which they had contributed to the various war funds. (Applause.)
A varied and interesting programme was rendered, every item being greatly appreciated by those present. The following artistes kindly gave their services:— St John’s young ladies’ choir — Miss Johnson, Miss Hogg, Miss Graham, and Miss Saunders; conductor Mr J. Vine; Mr J. Tilly, baritone, Ashington; Mr Dan Gray, elocutionist, Monkseaton; Mr McGregor Clyde, violinist, Ashington; and the Wansbeck Gleemen — Messrs Dixon, Grice, Donnison, and Vine. Miss Rosser made an efficient accompanist.
Mr J.T. Manderson moved a vote of thanks to Major Crawford, Mr Vine, his choir, and assistants, also to Mr Lawson for the use of the Hippodrome, and all who had made the concert such a success.
Mr John Ritson, secretary, gave the financial statement with regard to the relief fund from the beginning of the year. He stated that the income, including a balance from last year of £160 12s. 7d., totalled £416 0s. 4d.; expenditure, including, three death legacies, £25 each, relief parcels £17, insurance premiums £52 2s. 9d., and other items brought the expenditure up to £152 5s. 3d., leaving a balance in the bank of £263 15s. 1d.
ASSAULT ON A SPECIAL CONSTABLE
That was a rather lively scene described at Blyth Police Court, when a defendant was fined £5 for having assaulted a special constable, and in imposing the penalty Major Jobling, the chairman, made some very incisive remarks in regard to the great importance of protecting special constables.
The “special” had been on duty near the quayside, when he was evidently taken for a spy by defendant, who with small ceremony hauled him into a lodging house to “have a look at him,” and in the process the special constable, though not deliberately struck, was rather badly mauled and being an elderly gentleman, in the hands of a very powerful man, he was very much exhausted before the final scene at the police station.
The peculiar thing about the case is that defendant has been so many years in the town, and the special constable much longer, yet the defendant declared he had never seen the other man in his life before.
The public must learn to appreciate the services so ungrudgingly given by special constables, who in many cases have done a deal of real good auxiliary work for the police and at the same time it is well for special constables to be prompt and emphatic in making known their authority where occasion requires it.
CHOPPINGTON SOLDIER’S DEATH IN FRANCE
Mrs Russell, of Chapel Row, Choppington, has received the following letter announcing the death of her husband, Pte. P. Russell, machine gun section, in France:—
”It is with the greatest sorrow that I write this letter to acquaint you of the death of your husband. He was in my section, and he was one of my best men, a man whom I could trust and whom I thoroughly respected. I was not present at the time, as I happened to be in a different part of the line, and some of my men (your husband being one) were with another officer.
“He came off duty this morning, March 31st, and after washing and shaving himself, he was sitting down, outside his dug-out in the sunshine smoking his pipe. About 11 o’clock a shell, of a kind known to us as ‘whiz-bangs,’ exploded nearby, and a fragment hit him in the neck. He did not suffer at all, death being instantaneous. The news reached me an hour later, and although I hastened to the spot I was unable to see his body, as it had been taken away immediately. He will be buried tonight at eight o’clock, and I will see that a cross and inscription is put over his grave.
“His comrades in the section send their deepest sympathy. He was a man they respected and loved, as he was always willing to help them in anything, outside his ordinary duties, and he was never known to complain. I placed the greatest reliance in him, as he had seen service before, and his experience was of the greatest value both to my men and myself. His personal effects will be forwarded to you as soon as possible. All the other officers of the company who knew him join with me in sending our deepest sympathy to you and your children.— Yours, etc., Second-Lieut. Geo. D. Symes, No. 4 Section, 69 Machine Gun Company.”
The scheme for a joint bakery in connection with local co-operative societies has now taken concrete form. There are seven societies which have joined the association, Guide Post having drawn back, a decision taken at a members’ meeting where there was only a majority of one. It is expected, however, that this society will come into line later, when they see progress being made.
The funds required amount to 10/- per member, one half of which only will be required at the outset. The bakeries of the Blyth and Bedlington societies are taken over.
It is rather remarkable that a venture like this should be engaged in at the present. In other parts of the country there threatens to be trouble to get bread, not from the scarcity of flour, but the lack of bakers, and tribunals are stated to be refusing to exempt bakers from military service notwithstanding that they are in a reserved occupation.
The secretary of the London Master Bakers’ Protection Society is stated to have advised housewives to revert to the old practice of baking their own bread at home. It is only in the North of England really where the housewife is skilled in the excellent art of breadmaking, and the evidences of the times rather point to the fact that here also breadmaking may become very much of a lost art.
It would be a very great pity indeed if the Northumbrian housewife were to shrink from her duty of baking her children’s bread especially in these days and in the coming time when economy in food, as in other things, will be more required than it has been for generations.
OUR FOOD SUPPLIES
Earl Grey, in the course of an address, said he had asked the members of the association to meet to consider in what way it was possible for them to help the Northumberland War Agricultural Committee, established at the suggestion of the Government, with the object of taking such action as would enable agricultural interests to be supplied with labour, to organise a greater production of food and to make arrangements for getting implements, machinery, fertilisers, and foodstuffs.
It was not necessary for him to point out the great and ugly fact that the submarine had put this country into an entirely new position. It has been robbed of its old security. Hitherto we have been perfectly safe in looking to the whole world for our food supplies. But now it had become almost a necessity, in the interests of our self preservation that we should produce as much food as possible at home.
The minds of the people hitherto had been indifferent to the prosperity of agriculture. We had been governed by the towns, which drew their food supplies from all quarters of the earth, and were comparatively indifferent as to what might be produced in the United Kingdom. Now the position had been completely altered, and the mind of the nation was being increasingly engaged upon those two questions — how much food did the land produce and how much could it, or ought it to be able to produce?
Unless the land produced a sufficient amount of food to satisfy the people and sufficiently skilful use was being made of it, changes would have to be made. Inferior farmers would have to level up to the standard of the best farmers.
How to increase by scientific cultivation and business organisation the gross output of food was a question which was naturally receiving attention. It was obvious that they could not hope to increase the output of food unless it could be increased in such a way as to bring sufficient profit to the farmer, who was not going to embark in schemes of cultivation which would land him in loss. The first essential was that agriculture must be made profitable.
The problem of increasing the gross output of food was equally vital to the landowner, the farmer, and the labourer. He was now firmer in the belief than ever that the solution of the problem lay in the better and closer co-operation — closer business combination among farmers, and better education. It was proposed to establish a committee for each rural district in the county in connection with the Agricultural War Committee with the object of securing the co-operation of the best minds in the agricultural interests throughout the country for the purpose of stimulating the output of food from the land. They must support that suggestion as much as they could. At the same time he must confess that he had always believed that the organisation which grew up from below was the most effective.
That was the principle of the French organisation. The French Minister for Agriculture had issued a decree calling upon agriculturists of every commune to form themselves into a committee for the purpose of discussing what steps should be taken to promote the interests of agriculture within their districts. These committees elected a central committee, through which the Government railway companies, manufacturers and consumers were brought together.
That meant that they had coming up from the bottom an organisation which secured that the interests of the agriculturists themselves, and by that representative and democratic system they secured that the farmers had thorough control over every branch of the business which affected the prosperity of their industry.
He hoped that we would be able to do something of the sort here. We had begun from the top, but that was owing to the emergency of the situation. The Government, having realised how necessary it was that every effort should be made to stimulate a greater production of food, had been obliged to suggest an organisation which it was their duty to support by every means in their power.
He hoped that, once established, they would be able to get the same democratic foundation which existed in France, and secure in every agricultural parish, the most active-minded, intelligent, and alert farmers to consider what steps were required, and elect the best of their number to take part in the operations of a more central body.
This association, his Lordship continued, might be made the nucleus of an organisation which would enable them to think out the problems which lay at the very foundation of agricultural prosperity.
England expected that every agriculturist would do his duty, and grow as much food as they could. The national situation made it the imperative duty of every individual connected with the land to do his utmost to increase, if possible, the yield of food. They had got to combine and hustle to meet together and get the young men to think over the problems.
Landowners, farmers, and labourers must work together, and to quote Mr Asquith, out their ideas into a common stock, with a view to finding out how to secure cheaper buying, a greater production, cheaper transport for the articles they bought and sold, and better marketing of the articles they produced.