In this feature to commemorate the First World War, we will bring you the news as it happened in 1918, 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.

Sunday, 1st April 2018, 10:58 am
HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, March 29, 1918.

A great Sunday meeting (undenominational), arranged by His Worship The Mayor Councillor James Elliott, will be held in The Playhouse, Market Place, Morpeth.

A massed meeting for united prayer and intercession on behalf of our soldiers in France will be held on Sunday afternoon, commencing at 2.30.

HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, March 29, 1918.

Chairman: His Worship The Mayor. The Speakers will be: Rev. Canon Davies, Dr Drysdale, Rev. J. Miller, Rev J.J. Ward, and other laymen.

Short eight-minute addresses, with short prayers and hymns. Special hymn sheets provided.

Everyone invited, and a hearty welcome.

The Mayor asks that every father and mother, every wife, every brother and sister, every sweetheart will accept this invitation to come and represent their sons, their husbands, their brothers, and their lovers, as the Meeting is for the purpose of beseeching and imploring the Divine aid, protection, and care of our Almighty Father in this our deep anxiety and distress by the heartbreaking suspense regarding all our loved ones in the midst of this tremendous blood-shed in France at the present time.

HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, March 29, 1918.

Surely we have sufficient faith in the Higher Power to place our best and dearest loved ones in His special care and keeping.

Come and help by your presence to countenance and give weight to this effort, and let the men know we are praying for them, and when the time comes for their return I am certain that many will bear testimony to the efficacy of those prayers.


A special meeting of the Morpeth Town Council was held on Tuesday evening. The Mayor (Councillor Jas. Elliott) presided.

The Livestock Committee recommended that pigsties be erected at the Common in accordance with the plan prepared by the surveyor and already approved by the Council.

That these be stocked and run by the Corporation, with the proviso that if a Co-operative Pig Society be formed in the town to take the piggeries over on reasonable terms the Council should consider such a proposal, and that the centre garden at the herd’s cottage be taken for growing pig food.

That a row of sties be erected at the Low Stanners and let separately to townspeople, who will undertake to keep pigs therein at a rent per sty to be fixed by the Council.

That the Town Clerk apply to the Local Government Board to sanction and to the treasurer to grant a loan of £300 to carry out the project.

Mr Charlton moved the adoption of the report.

Mr Armstrong, in seconding, said that since they had had a discussion last on the question there has been various articles in the Press in favour of pig keeping all over the country. The reason was that pigs were the most prolific food producing animals they had.

Lord Rhondda had inaugurated a piggery in Wales. Operations were commenced in 1917, and at the end of the year each shareholder was paid ten per cent, and £50 was brought forward to reserve. In regard to the Council’s scheme he saw no reason why it should not be a success.

The most important thing about it was to increase food production and local authorities had been asked by the Food Production Department what they were doing in that respect, and it was for the Council to set an example. In regard to the financial aspect there was no doubt that with good management — and they must insist upon that — the scheme would be a financial success, and it would prove not only at the present time a means of producing food, but provide a nucleus for a profitable concern in the future.

Mr Waterston: In the first place, where are you going to get the meal? Mr Armstrong replied that special facilities had been granted by the Food Department to provide meal for feeding pigs.

Mr Waterston said that they could not get meal in Morpeth. He had tried himself. They could only get meal in small quantities, and it would cost 7/6 a week for one pig. They had been told about the refuse from the townspeople. Where were they going to get it? It was all taken up already. As to growing roots on the Common, that would not feed pigs. He considered the project a mistake.

Mr Simpson: It is not for us to keep pigs if we can let the sties.

Mr Charlton said he was in favour of the scheme. Mr Waterston kept two pigs himself, and what was good for Mr Waterston would be good for the Council and the community at large. Keeping pigs was a paying concern, if they had a responsible man to look after them. They were thankful for small mercies in these days, and if the first man they got to look after the piggeries did not make the place pay then they could get another man who could do so.

If there were not sufficient pigsties on the Low Stanners for the people then let them erect more. They were trying to serve the country in carrying out the scheme, and he would like every member of the Council to support it.

Mr Jackson: There is a great deal in what Mr Waterston says. It is quite a different thing the keeping of two pigs and running a municipal piggery. I think the expense of feedingstuffs and the cost of labour will be a big thing. Rather than start the municipal piggery we should encourage the people to keep pigs. Mr Waterston does not count his labour in keeping pigs. Let us remove the restrictions.

Mr Armstrong: These have been already removed some time ago.

Mr Swinney: It is the report of the committee. I support the committee. The time is not far distant when Lord Rhondda will compel municipal bodies to provide pigsties for the people. The restrictions have been off for months, but the people have no place to keep pigs. I will take two pigsties on the Low Stanners if no one else will take them, but I feel sure everybody will take them if they can get the chance.

Ald. Norman said he was rather disappointed in the report of the committee. They had given the Council no idea of the cost of running it and the cost of the buildings.

Mr Swinney: You got the cost at the last meeting.

Ald. Norman: The surveyor has made new plans for the Stanners, and the cost has not been given for that. What about the cost of running the piggeries on the Common? You will have to pay a man £2 a week to look after them.

I suppose it is the intention of the Council to collect refuse in the town. That is very laudable in own way, but not in another. I agree that we should countenance the erections on the Low Stanners, and let the people get the refuse for their pigs. If we collect the stuff it will make it all the more difficult for the individual tenants who will rent the pigsties when erected on the Low Stanners.

There are many people thinking about keeping pigs, and as a Corporation, we should help people to help themselves in this matter, but that is a different matter to running the show ourselves with municipal piggeries on the Common.

Proceeding, he said he thought it would be the wiser plan if they erected the pigsties on the Stanners. The surveyor might let them know the cost of that part of the scheme and let them see the plans. Under present circumstances the Council could not make pig keeping a paying concern on the Common. Some people said that it did not matter whether they lost on the transaction or not, but that was not business. They should not ask one set of ratepayers to help to pay for another’s loss.

It would have been different if the committee could let them know exactly how they were going to make it pay. It was too much like looking in the dark so far as the sties on the Common were concerned.

He then moved as an amendment that the Council erect the pigsties on the Low Stanners for them to let, and leave those on the Common over until the result was seen of these on the Stanners. He added that Mr Charlton had said he was confident that pig keeping would pay. He had had a good opportunity of trying it. He had any amount of refuse. Perhaps he would give his opinion how he had found it to pay and his experience of pig keeping.

Mr Charlton said he would like to contradict Ald. Norman with regard to the man’s wages on the Common. The herd there was receiving 35/- a week, free house, and two-thirds of an acre of land, and he could look after the pigs.

Again, he (Mr Charlton) had ordered six pigs, two for himself and two each for his brothers. Mr Temple and himself would send cart loads of refuse up to the Common to feed the pigs, and he believed that other gardeners would do the same thing in order to increase the food of the people. He would not keep pigs if he did not think it would pay him to do so. Anyone would give £50 a year for the holding upon the Common occupied by the herd.

Ald. Norman: The herd is doing other work for his money.

Mr Charlton: If we cannot get him to do it we will have to get somebody else. It is ridiculous for anyone to say that the scheme won’t pay.

Mr Fearby: It has been said that there are two schemes — one for the Council to have an independent piggery on the Common and the other for facilities to be placed at the disposal of those who wish to keep pigs on the Low Stanners. Do we as a Council bear the cost of both.

Mr Charlton: For those on the Stanners each individual will pay rent to the Council for the hire of the pigsty.

Mr Fearby: With regard to the financial position of keeping pigs, so far as the Council is concerned I have not seen any statement financially to enable me to come to a reasonable and just opinion on the matter. I do not know the cost of pig keeping.

It seems the proposition resolves itself into this. We want food in the town. It is not so much a case of money. High prices are being paid for commodities because of scarcity. I look at it in the light of providing food in this district even though we lose money over the scheme.

If this scheme will give us, as those competent to speak upon it state, a larger supply of food then we will be doing a greater work as a Council than we should do in spending it over law suits or anything else. I will give my support to the two schemes — for those who wish to keep pigs on the Stanners and for the Council’s scheme, for the simple reason we want food, and this is the best and most practical way to get it.

The Mayor said that he could not fall in with the committee’s recommendations. He was in favour of the scheme on the Stanners, but he was entirely against the municipal piggeries on the Common. He failed to see how they could make it pay. It has been said that there was a certain quantity of meal to be allowed for the feeding of pigs, but the quantity which had been apportioned was practically no use.

The herd was paid 35/- a week for working 5½ days a week, and they could not expect the man to do this additional work for the same wage and have a good slice of his garden taken away. Then there was the overdraft which would have to be met in a short time. Besides they were entirely at the mercy of the management. The food they could produce on the Common would have very little effect on the borough.

The Surveyor submitted the plan and estimated cost of the erections on the Low Stanners. The cost of 13 pigsties would be £130 altogether.

Mr Charlton: That is cheap enough.

Mr Simpson said he had been told by an expert that pigs paid remarkably well. But would the Corporation make it pay. Could they not build the pigsties and let the places and not pay a man to look after 20 pigs? He would support both Stanners and the Common, but he could not support municipal management.

Mr Swinney thought the Council would get their money back in less than five years. They wanted to supply food for the people.

Ald. Norman: The Controller may come in.

Mr Swinney: He won’t come in.

Mr Waterston: You can only keep one pig for yourself.

Mr Armstrong: Lord Rhondda’s idea is that supposing I was keeping one to myself and sell the other. There you have food for the people.

Mr Simpson favoured both schemes, but asked the Council to advertise the pigsties on the Common first before taking them over.

On a vote being taken the Committee’s report was adopted by five votes to three against.


The annual meeting of the above church was held, and was a great success from various points of view. In spite of the somewhat trying conditions, owing to the war, under which this church, like all other churches, is existing and working, satisfactory reports were received from the different officers whose duty it was to give accounts of their stewardship.

There are 63 names on the Roll of Honour. The membership of Roll, after careful revision, showed a net increase of four during the year 1917; and the financial report was one of the best in the history of the church.

The income for the year was £329 5s, of which £33 13s 4d had been contributed to charitable institutions such as the Armenian Relief, Blighty, Blinded Soldiers and Sailors, Red Cross, and Y.M.C.A. Huts funds. This was a very pleasing feature, as was the fact that there had been an increase in the contributions through the ordinary channels and for the usual purposes. .

A special letter was sent to Mr C.J. Hudson, who had been so long a most valuable servant in the capacity of secretary, and has been for several months in the Royal Navy.


Since the publication of the last report in 1917 of the above sewing meeting, the members have devoted themselves principally to making socks and shirts, as being most useful to our soldiers.

The total number of garments made since the foundation of the Mayoress’ sewing meeting in August, 1914, up to the present date is 11,045, an average of 2,000 garments in each season, and, it is to be recorded, that on occasion of sudden need, the ladies knitted 125 pairs of socks in a fortnight. This total, of course, includes gifts of socks and material from many kind friends.

Bales have been sent to the Northumberland Fusiliers and Hussars, Northumbrian Division of the Royal Engineers, Aerial Division, R.N.V.R., Red Cross the French Red cross, the Navy (per Miss Agnes Weston), The Tyne Minesweepers, etc. while individual parcels have been sent to soldiers from the town now serving in almost every branch of the Service, and in all parts of the Western and Eastern fronts, no call being refused when there was a garment in hand. Teas have been given.

The committee thank most heartily all those who have co-operated in making the sewing meetings so successful.


An excellent whist drive and dance was held in the Town Hall, Morpeth, on Friday last, in aid of the War Heroes Fund, given by the munition workers of Swinney Bros., Ltd.

Dancing was carried on until 2 o’clock. The arrangements were made by Mr John Lamb and Mr George Young. There was a band of five performers, and the secretary has handed over £5 14s 6d.


In preparation for the two days’ trek this weekend, which includes a sham fight, the men of Morpeth Company have been receiving special instruction, and have been carrying out similar operations on a small scale.

Last Sunday an interesting morning’s work had been arranged for the Company under the command of Lieut. Wm. Duncan. The details of the scheme, given by Brigadier-General Herbert, and carried out under his inspection, were as follows:—

“A khaki force, based at Newcastle, is advancing against a hostile white force about Shilbottle. The khaki force is advancing to the north on the roads between the sea and the Great North Road, latter inclusive. The night of the 23rd March the force bivouaced on the line of the River Blyth. The following morning it continued its advance to the north. The 5th Batt. Northumberland Volunteer Regiment is supplying the advance guard.

At 10.30am on the 24th March the situation is as follows:— “A” Company is furnishing the van guard. The leading scouts have reached the road junction one mile north of Morpeth, where the Hebron road leaves the main road. As the scouts come to the crest of the hill they are fired at from what they think to be the enemy in the farm under the north of East Lane.

The Company Commander, finding the head of the van guard has halted and hearing shots, goes up to see what the situation is. Having reconnoitred the position, he comes to the conclusion the enemy are in and about the farm buildings and perhaps astride of main road, but that they are not in force. He therefore decided to attack with his company.

Some of the various steps he would take:— Inform commander of advance guard of situation. Having made a personal reconnaissance, make up his mind how the attack is to be carried out. Collect platoon commanders and issue them his orders. These in turn given the sectional commanders their instructions. The men are told what they have to do. When all is ready the attack commences.”

At the close the Brigadier-General addressed the officers, N.C.O.s, and men, and criticised the operations generally, specially mentioning where faults had occurred and where the operations had been successfully carried out.

The arrangements for the two-days’ trek this weekend are as follows:— On Sunday morning the men will proceed by the 8.49 train to Acklington station, and then march in full kit to Felton, where refreshments will be provided. The Company will leave Felton about 11 in the forenoon and move in advance guard formation through “enemy” country to Longframlington.

The opposing force, composed of the Felton, Longframlington, and Rothbury detachments, will take up a defensive position between Felton and Longframlington in order to stop at all costs the advance of the attacking force. It is expected that Longframlington will be reached by 2.30 in the afternoon, where dinner will be served.

After dinner there will be an inspection of arms, and in the evening the Company will attend the service at the Presbyterian Church. The men will be billeted in the village overnight.

On the Monday morning there will be company drill and a Morris tube competition on the open range. In the afternoon an interesting programme of sports will be gone through. After tea the men will leave Longframlington and march to Weldon Bridge, where they will be met by motor transports and driven the remainder of the distance to Morpeth.

The appeal which was recently made to the men of Section D to enrol for the duration of the war has not met with very satisfactory results, but an opportunity is still afforded those men to come forward by the end of the month, and so help the nation at this time of crisis.

The Morpeth Section of the Northumberland Motor Volunteer Corps, under Lieut. A. Young, had made good progress, but some experienced drivers are still required to bring up the section to full strength.


Under the auspices of the National Union of Farmers a meeting was held in the Town Hall, Morpeth, on Wednesday, when an address was given by Mr T. Thompson, Deputy Director of Joint Committee, from the Ministry of Food Department. Mr L. Robson, Meldon, chairman of the Union, presided.

In the course of his address, Mr Thomson spoke of the advantage of combination amongst farmers. His mission was to try and come to their assistance if possible. He hoped the farmers would consider the position which they occupied, and pointed out the responsibility which the nation was putting upon them.

He referred to the Orders that had been issued, and particularly those affecting farmers, which he explained. He suggested with regard to oats that if anyone had a surplus they would hand it over for feeding horses in the towns. He recommended farmers to grow more potatoes.

He referred to the dead meat basis, and said that a committee had been appointed to consult those in charge of the scheme, and he hoped the result would be a practical solution of the difficulties. They wanted the maximum amount of pigs produced, and he suggested that refuse in villages and towns might be collected for feeding pigs.

The Chairman remarked that the production of foodstuffs was practically the first line of defence. He invited those present to make any suggestions they wished to Mr Thomson, and ask questions.

Several questions were asked and satisfactorily answered by the speaker. Suggestions were also made, which he said would have his careful consideration.

At the close Mr Thomson was heartily thanked for his address.


A good audience was present in St James’s Schools, Morpeth, when Mr C. Mayhew gave a lecture on “The best use to make of a small garden at the present time.” The lecture, which was much appreciated, will prove very helpful to many.

Later there were discussions on economical cookery, and recipes were given and exchanged.

The meeting closed by Mrs Paton proposing a vote of thanks to Mr Mayhew.


MOORE.— Previously reported and missing since June 5th, 1917, now officially reported killed or died since that date, Private George Henry Bates, 37230 N.F., aged 24 years, the dearly beloved son of George and Jane Moore, 17 Linhope Terrace, Chevington Drift, Acklington.— Ever remembered by his loving father, mother, brothers, and sister.