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.
Under the auspices of the local Food Control Committee a largely attended open-air meeting was held in the Market Place, Morpeth, on Tuesday evening. The principal speakers were the Rev. Jos. Miller, Congregational Church, and Mr Geo. Renwick of Springhill. The Mayor (Councillor J.R. Temple) presided, and several members of the Town Council were present.
The Mayor said that the food shortage was serious, and that it behoved everyone to economise in foodstuffs as much as ever possible.
The Rev. Mr Miller said that the last time he spoke from a platform in the Market Place they were appealing to the men who had not already enlisted to give themselves to the Army or the Navy. Ever since that time he had been appealing to people that they might help them in this tremendous and glorious cause of ours in order that they might gain a great victory. He was there not to ask them to join the Army or Navy, but to become part of the fighting forces nevertheless, and do their utmost in every capacity whatever.
They must win this war not only in the interests of our country and Empire, but in the interests of all the countries in the world. Barbarism had risen up against civilisation. Anti-Christ was at war with Christ.
He believed if the people at home willingly rose to the occasion and put their heart, mind, and soul into the task and endeavoured to raise food, and more important still to conserve food, then this last effort of the barbarians to starve us by destroying our food supplies from over the seas, would be frustrated.
Referring to the appeals from the Government he said that appeals were infinitely better to their tastes than demands, but unless they took notice of the appeals then he thought demands would come. The Navy had done marvellous things, but the submarine menace was without doubt a serious problem. No one liked compulsion, so let them be above it. They would all take badly with forced rationing, and it was for every one of them to let the Government see that it was not necessary to compel them to adopt rationing.
In the words of the Prime Minister they could not have equality of sacrifice in war, but they could have equal readiness to sacrifice. He would remind them that every pennyworth of food saved was a pennyworth of food grown. They were all glad that America had come in because Britain and America stood for liberty and democracy. But they must remember that America would not solve the food problem in this country. America had as much as she could do to solve her own food problem.
There was no need for despair, but it would need the best management to overcome the difficulties. It would mean management that would demand the most rigid economy on the part of rich and poor alike. Unless they were prepared to make greater sacrifices than they had been called upon to make in the past then liberty would be deprived of a complete victory.
He made a special appeal to the women and said they had been told that their battles were won in their schools, but this war was going to be won in their kitchens. There was never a time in their history when the women had such an opportunity to show their heroism, and in the name of all that was good, pure, and noble, he specially appealed to them at this time to do their utmost to make the campaign a success. (Applause.)
Mr George Renwick, in his address, said that all the notices issued by the Government day by day showed that the submarine menace was becoming more serious. There was a shortage of food staring them in the face. They had got to curtail the quantity of food they used. They must do it, or if they did not do it voluntarily they would be compelled to do it by rationing tickets.
The women were the people they looked to, and they wanted their help to prevent waste of foodstuffs. It was far better to be told unpleasant truths on the subject than be lulled by false security by somebody who told them pleasant untruths. What were they asking them all to do — to make some sacrifice, and let them compare the sacrifice with the sacrifice of our gallant soldiers and sailors.
It was the duty of everyone to see that there was no waste, and he hoped before long they would have that great and glorious conclusive peace which they had planned for and their lads were fighting for. (App.)
On the call of Ald. Ed. Norman the speakers were thanked for their addresses and the Mayor for presiding.
FOOD CONTROL CAMPAIGN
A meeting of the local Food Control Committee was held in the Council Chamber, Town Hall, Morpeth, on Monday evening. Ald. Ed. Norman presided.
Mr Simpson said he had received the following letter from the Town Clerk:— “I submitted your letters of the 2nd and 3rd inst. to the Council at their meeting in committee, when the committee agreed to recommend that your several requests be granted, except (a) that you should ask the Mechanics’ Institute to allow the food exhibition to be in one of their rooms, and (b) the committee would prefer that, if possible, your committee meetings should be held in the ante-room instead of the Council Chambers.”
The Chairman stated that he had informed the Council that the ante-room was too small for the committee meeting, as the committee had been enlarged in numbers. It was agreed that if it was too small to let them have the use of the Council Chamber. He thought the cookery demonstration might be held in the reading room which would be readily granted.
Further arrangements were made in connection with the cookery demonstration to be held on Thursday, May 17th, and a letter was read from Mrs Hedley, The Vicarage, Kirkwhelpington, thanking the committee for the honour they had done her in asking her to address a meeting in the Town Hall on the demonstration day. She was only too willing to do her best to help forward the movement which was of such vital importance to the country at the present time.
A communication from Mr T.R. Williams, Newcastle, read as follows:— “You have a domestic centre attached to one of your Morpeth schools. It would be an excellent thing if the ordinary work of the centre were suspended for a time and the centre and its teachers used for a course of lessons and demonstrations to women in economical war cooking and the use of substitutes.
“If your local committee took the matter up at once and applied to the Northumberland Education Committee, through the local school managers, the application would be favourably considered. The Board of Education will make no trouble about grants, etc. It will be well to make definite suggestions as to the length of the course and the most convenient time for the lessons, morning or afternoon, or both.”
The suggestions in the letter were adopted, and it was decided to make application for the course of lessons in the afternoon for a whole week.
The question of a house-to-house canvass was considered. In opening the discussion Mr F. Brumell referred to the need there was for assisting people with practical suggestions, and bringing home to all classes the necessity for strictly economising in the consumption of food. He also referred to the satisfactory results that had been obtained at Keighley by a house-to-house canvass of all classes of that community. He thought the ladies might take it up.
Ald. Norman said that the Rector had told him that whatever they did they should arrange for a house-to-house canvass. Unless they did that they would never get in touch with the people so as to make the campaign a real success. Ald. Norman added that the work would have to be done thoroughly and systematically.
Mrs Schofield thought it was an excellent suggestion. It was unanimously agreed to have a house-to-house canvass in order to impress upon all classes the need for adopting the Food Controller’s scheme of food rationing.
Mr Simpson said he had got a plentiful supply of literature on the subject, and he was instructed to get 500 copies of “The Win-the-War Cookery Book.”
It was also agreed that pledge cards be issued to the public which declare that the holder will abide by the Food Controller’s rationing scheme — 4lb. of bread or 3lb. of flour, 2½lb. of meat, and ½lb. of sugar, a week.
MORPETH TOWN COUNCIL
The quarterly meeting of the Morpeth Town Council was held on Tuesday evening. The Mayor (Councillor J.R.Temple) presided.
It was reported by the committee that the Town Clerk had read his correspondence with the Chief Constable, who had kindly undertaken to supply him with prints of new Orders as received, and reported that he had arranged with the “Morpeth Herald” to mention the Orders, and that copies would be affixed to a notice board in front of the Town Hall, for which, after consideration with the Mayor, he had asked for a price.
It was agreed, on the recommendation of the committee, that the report be approved, and the notice board be obtained.
In the committee’s minutes it was stated that the Town Clerk had reported that in response to his notice that the Council had taken unoccupied land in Cottingwood Lane, Northbourne Avenue, and Buller’s Green under the Food Cultivation Order, the owner in each case had given notice that the land was not unoccupied, and was about to be cultivated.
The committee recommended that if and so long as the land was properly cultivated the Council leave the owners to deal with it, but that it be taken over immediately in the event of the owners’ failure to make the most of it for food cultivation.
The Property and Finance Committee recommend that the surveyor be instructed to allow one or more of the Corporation’s workmen during the war to cultivate the garden now vacant at the Ha’ Hill field on condition of his keeping a look out upon the park and the hedges, etc.— The committee also recommended that the Park Committee be directed to deal with the cutting of hedges, etc., in the park.— Both recommendations were carried.
The Mayor reported having seen Mr Geo. Reid and arranged for him to continue his occupation of the Castle Square garden for the present on the same terms as heretofore with the additional condition that he would not put in anything which would carry compensation at the end of his tenancy. The action of the Mayor was confirmed.
Letters were read from the secretary of the Food Control Committee applying for the use of the Town Hall and Council Chamber for meetings.— The committee recommended that the use of the Town Hall be granted for public meetings and that the committee be asked to arrange with the Mechanics’ Institute for the use of their reading room for exhibition of cookery, and to hold their committee meetings when possible in the ante-room instead of the Council Chamber.
SOLDIERS’ INSTITUTE MORPETH
The Soldiers’ Institute, Morpeth, held a very large and appreciative audience last Friday evening, when the popular president (Mr Geo. Renwick) presided at a concert which had been organised by Mrs Renwick.
It was a first-class concert, and among the talented artistes who appeared were Mrs Fred Andersen and Miss Heenan of Newcastle, who have during the past two years delighted the soldiers in institute and in hospital in Northumberland and Durham with their vocal numbers. The officers present were Colonel Orton, Colonel Verdin, and Major Barbour.
At the outset the president said that the committee of the institute were always pleased to see the boys from Cheshire. (Applause.) He had a very close association with Cheshire, having been connected with some works there, and one of his sons, Major Renwick, lived there, therefore he knew something about Cheshire and the boys of Cheshire.
He hoped they had enjoyed their visit to the town. He knew that it had its disadvantages, but he thought that the advantages outweighed the disadvantages. Shortly they would be going under canvas, but wherever they went he felt sure that they would keep the good character they had got in Morpeth. Those who had so long been associated with them would follow their career with the greatest interest.
He was glad to see the boys from the local hospital. (Hear, hear.) He felt sure that they would find themselves well treated there. They looked remarkably well, and did not look as if they were on rations, which they were all asked to subsist upon at this time. He hoped it would be a long time before the rations of their gallant fellows were cut down. If there was to be any rationing then let it be done by the people who live at home. (Hear, hear, and applause.) He sincerely hoped that they would have a pleasant evening and equally pleasant recollections of the concert. (Applause.)
The programme was opened by Private Shipton, the soldiers’ local favourite, who in old and new topical songs at the piano was repeatedly encored. Mrs Andersen revealed a pleasing voice and a most artistic method and style, and for all her delightful renderings she was enthusiastically recalled each time. Miss Hennan is another charming singer, and in quite a host of attractive songs with catchy choruses she pleased everybody, and on more than one occasion she had to respond to a double encore. For her recitations Mrs Baylis had also to respond to encores. A pianoforte solo was nicely played by Miss Willis, and Private Davis gave an exhibition of weight-lifting. Mrs Anderson concluded the programme with an appropriate song entitled “Thank you.”
Sergt. Grundy proposed a vote of thanks to Mrs Renwick who had organised the concert, and to the artistes, and also to Mr Renwick, whom he termed the soldiers’ friend.
The vote was enthusiastically carried.
Colonel Verdin, who had a splendid reception, said he had come to the institute that night to thank the ladies and gentlemen for the good work they had done on behalf of the Cheshires and other units stationed in the district during the past two years.
He had known what had been going on in this institute and how the men had behaved themselves. There was one thing about an institute like that, and the Y.M.C.A., and other institutions in the town which had done a great deal for the troops, and that was they gave them not only a good concert but a good supper. (Applause.)
They came here to enjoy themselves free of all military discipline, and the only discipline there was the men’s own conduct. He knew that Mr Renwick had spoken very highly of the behaviour of the men, and from inquiries he had made from time to time he found that that was the case.
He then asked one and all to give three hearty cheers to Mr Renwick and the committee of the institute. The large audience responded in a most enthusiastic way.
In reply, Mr Renwick, on behalf of the committee, thanked Colonel Verdin for his kind words of appreciation, and said that all praise was due to the devoted band of ladies who had carried on the good work of the institute for over two years. The ladies felt themselves amply repaid for their service by the large attendances in the institute daily.
The singing of the National Anthem concluded the proceedings.
BRITISH RED CROSS
The British Red Cross Society has received per Mrs G. Hall, £2 12s, the proceeds of a concert held recently at Longhorsley.
ROLL OF HONOUR
AMOS.— Died in hospital from wounds received in France on May 3rd, 1917, aged 28 years, Sergt. Vincent Amos, 290203 N.F., second son of Robert and Susan Amos, of Chevington Drift, and beloved husband of Margaret Amos.— Deeply mourned by his loving wife and little son.
CHARLTON.— Missing since July 1st, 1916, now presumed dead, Ralph Anderson Charlton, dearly beloved son of John and Annie Charlton of Barrington.
CHILTON.— Missing since July 1st, 1916, now presumed dead, Lance-Corporal Robert Chilton, son of Annie Chilton of Bedlington Colliery and the late Thomas Chilton.— Deeply mourned by his loving mother, brothers, and sisters.
ELLIOTT.— Previously reported missing, now officially reported killed on July 12th, 1916, aged 23 years, Private Isaac Elliott, N.F., third and dearly beloved youngest son of Mrs Elizabeth and the late Mr William Elliott, Newton Underwood, Mitford, Morpeth. R.I.P.
FOSTER.— Reported missing since July 1st, 1916, now reported killed, Private Frank Foster, 811, Tyneside Scottish, aged 30 years, dearly beloved husband of Mrs Foster, Cross Row, Stakeford.— Ever remembered by his loving wife and family.
GRAY.— Killed in action on April 2nd, 1917, aged 26 years, James Gray, N.F.— Ever remembered by his parents and all who knew him.
KINGHORN.— Killed in action, Private George Kinghorn and Private Thomas Kinghorn, beloved sons of John and Elizabeth Kinghorn of Bank Top, Bedlington.
PATTISON.— Missing since July 1st, 1916, now reported killed, Private Dixon Pattison, No. 927 N.F. (T.S.), aged 22, dearly beloved son of Mary Ellison and the late William Pattison, of Stakeford, late of Ashington.
STEPHENSON.— Died from wounds received in action on April 18th, 1917, Gunner George Stephenson, R.F.A.— Deeply mourned by his sorrowing mother and sister, M. McCarthy, 7 Bilton’s Court, Morpeth.