In this feature to commemorate the First World War, we will bring you the news as it happened in 1917, 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 monthly meeting of the Morpeth Town Council was held on Wednesday evening. The Mayor (Councillor J.R. Temple) presided.
The Town Clerk read his correspondence with the Northumberland War Agricultural Committee as to the non-delivery of seed potatoes ordered, and was directed to hand same to the “Morpeth Herald” for publication.
A letter was read from the Food Production department asking the Council to direct their War Agricultural Committee to assist the Food Horticultural Representative.
It was recommended by the committee that the County Council be asked to sanction the appointment of a War Agricultural Committee for the Borough, and that the latter render whatever assistance possible. – Agreed to.
Circulars have been received suggesting a Badge Day for the benefit of the Jack Cornwall Memorial Home for Wounded Soldiers, and a flag day for the Lord Mayor’s Fund for Armenian refugees.
The committee recommended that the Mayor and Councillor Swinney be asked to undertake the arrangements. – Agreed to.
The Town Clerk submitted correspondence and reported interviews with the representatives of the V.A.D. and military authorities with reference to a notice received from the latter to determine their tenancy of the Borough Hall, which the V.A.D. wished to retain as a military hospital for which they were willing to pay a rent of 10/- a week.
It was agreed to recommend that the V.A.D. be accepted as the tenants of the hall at the reduced rent offered.
With reference to the V.A.D. the Town Clerk said he had received the following letter from Mrs Fullerton James, the commandant, which she wished him to read to the Council: –
“While the subject is before the Town Council I should like to supplement what I have said in my previous letters with some information with reference to the cost of maintenance, as I am told that some surprise has been expressed that we are unable to meet all expenses out of the present Government allowance of 3/- per day, per man.
“The allowance is calculated on the number of patients, but besides the patients we have to maintain out of it the paid staff, and provide meals for the nurses, cooks, and orderlies who are in regular attendance day and night.
“The expenses may be classified under the following heads: –
“Food. – It must be remembered that the patients must be fed on generous diet, and that a large proportion of them are convalescents who require rather more than normal allowance for a healthy man.
“Paid staff, including matron, masseuse, cook and charwoman. Officers, nurses, and assistant cooks give their services gratis.
“Washing is a good heavy item, part of which is done by volunteers.
“Coals, coke, lighting are all heavy items; medicine and dressings; bedclothing, cutlery, and crockery,
“Rent. – £26 a year in respect of the school, and £7 16s a year for caretaker’s room.
“Besides these continuing expenses, we have been obliged to make alterations such as erecting conveniences, new kitchen range, etc.
“We have also to make provision for the cost of restoring the building to its original condition when the hospital shall be no longer required. It is difficult to estimate for these, but the cost will be considerable.
“May I add that almost the whole of the money above referred to is spent in Morpeth.”
Mr Elliott proposed: That in view of the repeated changes and rearrangements in the Food Controller’s department and the difficulty of tradesmen keeping themselves informed of them, that the police be requested to give notice of all new Orders or Instructions received by them to the tradesmen in the Borough who are or may be affected thereby.
He pointed out that these Orders were not issued to the traders or the public generally.
The copies were in possession of the Morpeth police superintendent and the superintendent at Blyth.
Restrictions would be worse as time went on, and he asked them to support this resolution requesting the police to notify the tradesmen before any action was taken on their part.
Ald. Brown: I don’t see what the Council has got to do with these regulations. I think Mr Elliott should apply to the police. That is the proper thing to do. We have no control over the police, and I don’t think it is the Council’s duty to interfere at all.
Mr Fearby: Each district was to have a complete organisation for the control of food. It appears that has not been done so far. These notices have no effect with nobody to put them into force.
Mr Swinney: The police are authority.
Mr Fearby: They have no authority.
Mr Jackson and Mr Simpson: Well, they have taken upon themselves the authority.
Mr Charlton: There have been similar cases elsewhere, and the only notice the traders got was by reading the papers.
Mr Swinney: I don’t see what harm it will do if we send the resolution to the police. We can try it at any rate.
Mayor: I think it is only fair that traders should be notified. Orders are in the papers one day and contradicted the next.
Ald. Norman: In passing this resolution we are asking no more than need to be done in years gone by.
I remember when passing through normal times, when legislation did not come as rapidly as it came today, the superintendent made it practically a rule, as far as he was concerned, to notify those who were specially interested in any new Act that cane into force so that they might not be caught unawares.
We are not asking anything new or unreasonable.
Mr Charlton: I don’t object to asking the police to oblige us to help the tradesmen in Morpeth in these matters.
Mr Waterson: I agree with Ald Brown that we should not take any steps at all. It is better if you keep off their backs as much as possible.
Town Clerk: A fair example of the confusion of these rapidly issued complicated Orders occurred on Good Friday.
An Order was recently issued by the Board of Control ordering licensed premises in certain districts not to open on Good Friday until 6.30 in the evening. The time for opening on Sunday in the district, which applies to Good Friday, is 6pm.
A police sergeant and a constable went to two of the principal licensed houses in the town between 6 and 6.30 and ordered all the persons found therein to leave and the houses to be closed, which was done.
The sergeant was told that he was wrong.
On consulting the Order at the police station the sergeant found that it did not apply to this district, but was intended only for the West of England. He apologised to the license holders for this mistake.
Mr Elliott: I am not asking this out of spite, but in common fairness to the tradespeople. I am of the opinion that we should be informed of these changes from time to time.
The motion was carried with two dissentients.
The Town Clerk read the following letter which Mr Phaup had received from Mr T.R. Williams, hon. secretary of the Northumberland War Savings Committee:
“Thanks for your list of associations. Is it complete? I believe I was told that an association was formed at Swinney’s. I know that, apart from the schools, you have only two associations in Morpeth.
“There should be ample scope for several additional associations, and I would suggest that your committee be called together to consider the matter. There should be a railway association, women’s association, etc. Berwick has nine or ten associations.
“The Mayor would probably be ready to form an association for members of the Corporation and officials. I shall be glad to help you in any way, but the best thing is to get three or four enthusiastic individuals to push things on.”
Mr Swinney stated that the foundry had formed an association of their own.
Town Clerk: The idea was that the schools should be asked to form associations and also friendly societies in the town.
Mayor: The Sunday Schools are doing their best in that respect.
Ald. Norman said that in the different schools they had associations of their own.
Some people had got the impression that since the last war loan ceased that the war savings associations had also ceased. Such was not the case.
Town Clerk: What is wanted is to call the committee together and infuse some energy into it. Of course, it is evident there are more associations than the two mentioned in the letter.
In reply to Mr Swinney the Town Clark said he thought Mr Phaup had handed the letter to the Mayor in order to form an association amongst the councillors.
It was agreed on the motion of the committee, that the Council take possession under the Land Cultivation Order of all vacant land at De Merley Road belonging to George Dixon, the lawn tennis court in Cottingwood Lane, belonging to Mr Thos. Hopper, and an uncultivated garden at Buller’s Green, behind the house belonging to the estate of the late Mr Wm. Burn.
The training of the Morpeth Volunteers is proceeding very satisfactorily, and progress of the right sort is being made.
Last Sunday morning the men marched from headquarters to the Common, and, under the direction of Acting Lieut. Wm. Duncan, the company were instructed in the elements of taking a position from the enemy.
Platoons 1 and 2 formed the advance guard, while Platoon 3 were the reserve.
This new method of instruction is a nice change for the men.
On Tuesday evening some of the men were in the rifle range, whilst the rest of the company were instructed in outpost duty on the Common.
One of the men, Private J.F. Price, succeeded in eluding the outposts and got behind the lines.
If weather is favourable on Sunday morning, the men, under the direction of the Cheshire instructors, will have a demonstration with dummy bombs on the Common.
Mr J.D. Haggie, manager of Pegswood Colliery, has given 64 allotments free of charge to married men with families employed at the colliery.
The following is the text of the Food Hoarding Order, which came into force on Tuesday last:—
1. (a) Except under the authority of the Food Controller, no person shall after April 9th, 1917, acquire any article of food so that the quantity in his possession or under his control at any one time exceeds the quantity required for ordinary use and consumption in his household or establishment.
(b) In any proceedings for breach of this clause the burden of showing what quantity of any article of food is so required shall rest upon the person charged.
2. No person shall sell any article of food to a purchaser where he has reasonable grounds for believing (whether on account of the quantity of the article sold or any other circumstances) that the quantity of such article which may lawfully be acquired by the customer or other person will by reason of such sale be exceeded.
3. Any person specially authorised in writing by the Food Controller may enter upon any premises in which he has reason to believe that any article of food is being kept in contravention of this Order and carry out such inspection and examination of the premises as he may think necessary.
4. This Order shall not apply to: –
(a) Any article of food acquired or held in the ordinary course of business by any producer, dealer, or manufacturer.
(b) Any home-produced or home-made article of food in the possession of the producer or maker or the materials reasonably necessary in the ordinary course of such production.
5. For the purpose of this Order, the expression article of food shall include every article which is used for food by man, or which ordinarily enters into the composition or preparation of human food.
6. If any person acts in contravention of this Order, or aids or abets any other person in doing anything in contravention of this Order, that person is guilty of a summary offence against the Defence of the Realm Regulations, and if such person is a company every director or officer of the company is also guilty of a summary offence against those regulations, unless he proves that the contravention took place without his knowledge or consent.
7. This Order may be cited as the Food Hoarding Order, 1917.
The Order, which it is understood will be interpreted in a reasonable spirit, is directed not against the provident housewives who may have saved a few pounds of sugar for jam-making or have bought one or two extra tins or jars of foodstuff.
Its object is rather to put a stop to purchase by selfish people of dry goods by the hundredweight, a practice which follows every public suggestion of substitutes for articles which have become scarce.
ROLL OF HONOUR
BURRELL. – Missing since July 1st, 1916, now reported killed in action, Private William Burrell (840), 4th T.S., aged 26 years, the dearly beloved and only son of Mr and Mrs Joseph Burrell, of Choppington Colliery. –Deeply mourned by father, mother, sisters, and brother-in-law.)
DAVIDSON. – Killed in action, March 18th, 1917, Private John R. Davidson, N.F., aged 28 years, dearly beloved husband of Frances Davidson, 21½ Victoria Terrace, Bedlington. – (Deeply mourned by his sorrowing wife and daughter and all who knew him.)
BUGLAS. – Missing since 1st July, 1916, now reported killed on that date, Lance-Corpl. Benjamin Buglas, aged 40 years, second son of the late William Stephen and Ellen Buglas, formerly of Chevington. – (Mourned by his wife and children, brothers and sisters, Chrissie and George Hogg.)
LAWSON. – Died of dysentery at Mont Dora Hospital, Bournemouth, March 28th, 1917, Private J. Lawson, aged 26 years, dearly beloved husband of Annie Lawson, 2 Corporation Yard, Morpeth. – (Ever remembered by his loving wife and two children.)
TRENENT. – Killed in action on March 22nd, aged 24 years, Private William Mavin Trenent, dearly beloved son of William and Elizabeth Trenent, 3 Burt Terrace, Morpeth. – (Deeply mourned.)
CAMERON. – Missing since July 1st, 1916, now reported killed on that date, Private Donald Cameron, 23rd N.F., aged 26 years, dearly beloved husband of Florrie Cameron, 249, Yard Row, Netherton Colliery. – (Deeply mourned by his wife and little son.)
MORPETH CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH
We anticipate a good audience to hear the Rev. J. Miller’s lecture, “Impressions and Experiences of Life in Germany”.
He is due to deliver the lecture on Monday night first, April 16th, in the Congregational Church.
The rev. gentleman is familiar with his subject, having been Congregational minister in Hamburg until October of 1914.
The Mayor is to occupy the chair.
The collection is in aid of the church funds.
THE KEEPING OF LISTS OF EMPLOYEES
Sir,— I have been requested by the military authorities to ask you to give publicity to the following statement, and shall be much obliged if you can find space in your valuable paper to assist me to comply with that request, as the matter appears to be of national importance and of special interest to employers of labour:—
DEFENCE OF THE REALM REGULATIONS,
(41A and 41 AA. Form D.R. 17.)
It is now well known amongst employers of labour that certain particulars of all men between the ages of 18 and 41 (now intended to include all male persons of 16 and over) employed by them must be exhibited on Form D.R. No. 17 (obtainable at post offices) in accordance with the above-mentioned Regulations.
Speaking generally, there is reason to believe that this duty is being performed by all employers. It does not, however, appear to be understood by all employers that a copy of the form must be forwarded to the local recruiting officer.
The Regulation dealing with the subject (41A) (2) (c) reads:— “He shall forthwith deliver to the recruiting officer for the locality in which those premises are situated a true copy of every such statement prepared by him, and thereafter, shall deliver to such recruiting officer during the first week in each calendar month a written report showing any alterations and additions to the said statements down to the last day of the preceding month.”
Failure to comply with the foregoing Regulation is a summary offence, and makes the employer liable to a penalty of £100, and, or, six months’ imprisonment.
As recruiting officers have had great difficulty in obtaining the necessary particulars, any future case of an employer neglecting to conform with the Regulation which is detected by, or, brought to the knowledge of, the police will have to be prosecuted.— Yours etc.,
Chief Constable of Northumberland.
Morpeth, April 11th, 1917.
EARL GREY’S GARDENS COMMITTEE
Sir,— On behalf of the above committee, I beg your permission to draw attention to the scheme, initiated by Earl Grey, for the purpose of encouraging production in cottage gardens and allotments in Northumberland.
The scheme takes the form of a competition, which is open to all occupiers of cottage gardens and allotments (other than professional gardeners) within the county of Northumberland — including Newcastle and Berwick — and Lord Grey has placed at the disposal of the committee a sufficient sum of money to enable the committee to offer a considerable number of prizes for each of the districts into which the county has been divided for the purposes of the competitions.
Prizes will be awarded in two separate classes, namely:— Class I. Open only to the occupiers of gardens attached to cottages situation on arms. Class II. Open to the occupiers of all other cottage gardens and allotments.
The crops comprised in the competition are potatoes, cabbages, and leeks, and awards will be made (subject to consideration being given to conditions of soil, situation, and climate) on the basis of the heaviest yields of each of the crops stated, lifted from particular lengths of drill or row. Recorders will be appointed by the committee to select the lengths of crop to be weighed and, in due course, to conduct the weighings.
Entries for the competition should be sent in on or before June 1st next.
I shall be glad to send a copy of the schedule to anyone interested on receipt of a postcard.
It is scarcely necessary, perhaps, at this time of day to urge the need of making the most, during the ensuing summer, of the cottage garden and allotment. I may perhaps be permitted to quote the opinion of the President of the Board of Agriculture expressed in a letter sent to Dr Hadow, chairman of the committee.—
“It is of the utmost importance that in every cottage garden the greatest quantity of useful vegetables should be grown. Every man who can contribute in this way to his own support relieves the total demand upon the nation’s support, and is therefore helping to feed, not only himself, but the community.”
— Yours, etc.,
Secretary of Committee.
3rd April, 1917.