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.

Saturday, 15th September 2018, 12:39 pm
HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, September 13, 1918.

A big Franco-American attack was launched yesterday morning on a wide front in the Verdun Sector.

The attack has so far been successful. The enemy is falling back on both fronts. Our troops are fighting magnificently.

HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, September 13, 1918.

The attack is on either side of St Mihiel salient, the southern attack being on a front of twelve miles, and the western attack on a front of eight miles.


At Widdrington Colliery on Tuesday evening last Sergt. Coates, of the Northumberland Fusiliers, was presented with a gold wristlet watch in recognition of his having won the Military Medal on active service in France.

The Rev. J. Stewart, who presided over a large audience, said they had gathered to honour the brave. One of their own boys had distinguished himself on the field of battle, and it was right that they should acknowledge his valorous conduct.

The presentation was made by Mr W. English, manager of Ferney Beds Colliery, who read the official account of Sergt. Coates’ bravery.

He said it gave him much pleasure to hand a gold watch to Sergt. Coates — one of their own lads — in recognition of the distinction conferred upon him for heroic service in the war. They were all proud of him and hoped he would be spared to wear the watch, which he now asked him to accept with their congratulations and best wishes for a safe return, (Applause.)

Sergt. Coates, who was accorded musical honours, thanked them one and all for the kind reception they had given him and for the watch, which he would prize highly. He had only done his duty as a Briton. (Applause.)

Songs by Messrs Cairney, Robertson, Moorhead, and Dodds; concertina solos by Mr Wilson, and a conjuring exhibition by Lance-Corpl. Melvey greatly added to the enjoyment of the evening. Mr White, of Red Row, acted as accompanist.

Mr B. Williams called for a vote of thanks to the artistes, the chairman, Mr English, and the committee of the Widdrington Heroes Fund.

Mr Armstrong announced that they had started a Heroes Fund, and appealed for a generous retiring collection.


Several very important questions were brought forward for consideration at the monthly meeting of the Morpeth Town Council last Tuesday evening, which aroused a good deal of discussion. The Mayor (Councillor Jas. Elliott) presided.

The Mayor announced that Miss M.D. MacNair, inspecting supervisor of National Kitchens Division under the Ministry of Food, would address the members on the subject of National Kitchens.

It was agreed to take the notice of motion standing in the name of Mr Armstrong first. It was that a national kitchen be established for the borough, and that the necessary arrangements be now made for giving effect to the proposal.

He said that it was a very important question to all of them owing to the food and fuel shortage. If the war was finished tomorrow there would still be a world shortage of food, and the situation would remain so for some considerable period. He understood that the national kitchen could supply food cheaper to the people cooked than they could purchase the food and cook it in their own homes.

Another important reason why they should establish a national kitchen was the need for economy in fuel, and seeing the way people were all rationed it would enable them to get a hot meal and likewise save fuel.

Since the war began women had very largely taken the place of men and were doing men’s work, and consequently they had not been able to devote their time to cooking in the home as they did in pre-war days. If established it would supply a long-felt want.

He did not wish the Council to come to a decision that night. He would propose that a small committee be asked to go into the scheme thoroughly and report to the next meeting. He would also add to his resolution that the Council give permission to the committee to visit one of those kitchens in the North. He understood that there was one at North Shields.

Mr Swinney, in seconding, said that where national kitchens had been started they had been a great success. He would not put the question off for another month, but would have the report presented as quickly as possible.

Mr Grey said that there was a considerable need in the borough for a kitchen of that sort. He had been talking to a woman who worked in the fields, and he asked her how she managed at meal times, and she replied: “We manage very badly.” She and the children never got a hot meal except on Sundays and occasionally in the evenings.

There were at least one hundred women who worked in the market gardens to which that applied — in fact, there were two hundred women in the town who were in the same position. Further, they had the influx of children to the secondary schools in the town, numbering about 200.

In small houses the quantity of coal allowed would not permit the people to have hot meals when they ought to have them.

From the lists he had seen the food was sold at a very low rate, and they would get the food cooked at the same price as they would buy it uncooked.

He thought they ought not to go into it rashly, but appoint a committee, as suggested by Mr Armstrong, and see what other places were doing.

Mr Fearby said he wished to associate himself with the remarks expressed. It seemed to him that a kitchen of that description was very much required in the locality.

He asked if the scheme was self-supporting or dependent upon charity. That was a very important matter which was worthy of consideration. Would there be sufficient money from the sale of commodities to ensure the success of the scheme? He was willing to do all in his power to further the scheme.

Ald. Norman said that he should like the proposal of Mr Armstrong much better if he could have the report for the special meeting in a fortnight’s time instead of waiting a month.

Town Clerk: The report will come up at the special meeting.

Miss MacNair said she was glad to have the opportunity of discussing the chief points regarding the national kitchen. The late Lord Rhondda, Food Controller, had introduced the national kitchens primarily as a war measure in order to attempt a saving in food, fuel, labour, and transport.

The shortage of food which they experienced at the present would not be over when the war finished. Experts told them that it would be at least two years after the war, and probably as many as seven years before the food supply was anything like normal. One of the great points was the saving of food in those kitchens.

A lot of people said now that rationing had come in they would get a better supply of food so kitchens were not quite so necessary, but they could not get the variety of food which was essential for perfect health. The meat ration was small, and in those kitchens they could make a variety of foods which the ordinary house-wife could not do owing to rationing.

With regard to fuel and labour it was quite evident that 600 dinners could be cooked in one of those kitchens much cheaper than in 600 homes. Then again, there was the tremendous saving in fuel and labour.

So many women were working that they did not get the hot food which they ought to get, and the children had also to be taken into account. In the winter they all needed a hot meal once a day. Women had to go to several shops to get the necessary foodstuffs, take them home, and then commence the cooking. Instead of that they could go to the kitchen and get the food prepared and cooked for them.

Those kitchens had been very much used abroad in pre-war days. That gave the late Lord Rhondda the idea of starting them in this country.

After a few years of war they were realising need for saving in all directions. The Ministry of Food was under the impression, although primarily a war measure, the kitchens had come to stay, and they had made arrangements for lending any council sufficient money to cover the whole initial outlay for a kitchen, to be repaid in annual instalments over a period of ten years, the money being lent free of interest.

She emphasised the fact that all national kitchens running were paying concerns, and were making enough to pay off the instalments. They wanted the people to get food at a nominal cost. There was no fear that rates would suffer in any way.

With regard to running the kitchens they did not require voluntary help. If they introduced voluntary help they made it a sort of charity. It must be run on sound, business-like lines, under a good supervisor. They paid the supervisor from £2 to £3 a week according to the size of the kitchen.

Some people thought that those kitchens were going to break up home life, but she did not think they would find that to be the case. The prepared food could be carried home and served in the house. She passed round pictures showing the different types of kitchens with restaurants attached and the sort of equipment used.

She would do everything she could to further the scheme in the borough. She thought it was a good idea a deputation to go and inspect one of the kitchens in operation in the North.

The following were appointed as a committee to go into the question and report to the Council as to the advisability of adopting the scheme:— The Mayor, Messrs Armstrong, Swinney, Norman, Gray and Fearby, and the Town Clerk.


Mr and Mrs F. Fram, “Herald” Office Yard, Morpeth, have received word that their son Pte. F. Fram, Lancs Fusiliers, has been wounded in the back and is dangerously ill in the 1st South African Hospital, France.

Mr J.B. Sim, of Stobswood, has received official notification to the effect that his son, Nathan, R.F., was killed in action in France on August 22nd. Also his eldest son, David Edward, M.M., A.C.C., is in England wounded.

Mr and Mrs R.H. Scott, of 329 Welbeck Terrace, Pegswood, have been officially notified that their son, Cpl. John Scott, N.M., N.F., has been killed in action between Aug. 21st and 23rd. Before enlisting he was employed at Pegswood Colliery.

Mrs Potts, of Walker’s Buildings, Seaton Burn has received official news that her husband, Cpl. Jos. Potts, N.F. was killed in action on August 25th. Corpl. Potts joined in the early stages of the war and was formerly employed under the Seaton Burn Coal Company.

Mrs English, Pretoria Avenue, Morpeth, has received word from her son, Private William English, that he has been wounded in action, having received a machine gun bullet through his stomach. He is now in hospital in England. This is the second time he has been wounded. Before joining up he was employed by the Morpeth branch of the Ashington Co-operative Society.

Private John Blyth, who was a butcher at Blyth before joining the Army, has been killed in action.

Mr J. Charlton, headmaster of Seaton Delaval Council Schools, has been officially advised that his son, Lieut. W. Charlton, has been killed in action. Mr Charlton’s only two sons have both been killed.


DALTON.— Of you Charity, pray for the repose of the soul of Stoker Robert Dalton, aged 25 years and 10 months, the dearly beloved husband of Mary E. Dalton (nee Hardy) and beloved sixth son of Jacob and Bridget Dalton, Corporation Yard, Morpeth, who died in Haslar naval Hospital, Gosport, from pneumonia, 9th September, 1918. Requiem Mass at St Robert’s 8.30am, Friday, 13th. To be interred at Morpeth Churchyard in afternoon. Cortege to leave St Robert’s 2.30. Naval Honours. All friends kindly invited.— R.I.P.

FORREST.— Died of wounds in France, August 25th, aged 25 years, Pte. R.A. Forrest, Transport Section N.F.— Deeply mourned by Jack and Kitty Wilson, and Willie, of Angerton.

PENN.— Killed in action, Aug. 27th, 1919, Cpl. J.M. Penn, Coldstream Guards, aged 21, beloved and only son of George and Catherine Penn, of Cowpen Village.

SOULSBY.— Killed in action on the 31st August, 2nd-Lieut. W.D. Soulsby, London Regiment, Solicitor, Blyth, beloved husband of Jenny Soulsby, Windsor Avenue, Blyth.

SIM.— Killed in action, 22nd August, 1918, 79499, Pte. Nathan Sim, aged 21 years and 8 months, Royal Fusiliers, dearly beloved son of John and Frances Sim, Stobswood. Memorial service in Ulgham Church, Sunday first, at 6pm, all friends invited.


Sir,— I wish through your columns to thank all those who took so much trouble to make the above such a success.

Mr and Mrs Renwick for so kindly lending the field, besides a great deal of help in other ways; Miss Shirley Schofield, who acted as secretary, who spared herself neither time nor trouble, and the committee closely associated with her in arranging all the events, the Mayor, Messrs R. Swinney, Jackson, Hoey, and Arrowsmith, besides the Mayoress and the other ladies who undertook the tea.

I feel our grateful thanks are due to them all, and also to Captain Dakyns’ pierrot troupe for their very good concert.

Mr Tedding, the organiser of the fund for the after-care of blinded sailors and soldiers, is, I believe, away, but I am sure he would wish to associate himself with me in heartily thanking all concerned.

Yours etc.,


Commandant V.A.D. Hospital


The Reference Leaf (Page 6Y — the leaf with the name on) now require immediate renewal, or the book will shortly be useless.

This will entail a good deal of work, and in order to avoid complication and future difficulties all holders of ration books within the Borough are requested to bring the books (or the reference leaf from it) to the Local Food Office, No. 7 Bridge Street, Morpeth, not later than Friday, September 20th.

JAMES JARDINE, Executive Officer


County Commissioner Corballis, accompanied by Assistant Commissioner C.E. Young, visited the headquarters of St Robert’s troop of Boy Scouts last Saturday. After inspecting the boys the Commissioner expressed his pleasure at seeing such a smart turn-out.

He then proceeded to the camp of the 1st Morpeth Troop, near Springhill, on ground kindly lent by Mr George Renwick. The secretary, Mr S. Hoey, Scoutmaster Dobbinson, and Assistant Scoutmaster Jobson were also present. The Scouts were inspected, and the Commissioner paid a tribute to the smart work performed by them.

The secretary intimated that Mrs Renwick had kindly promised to provide the drums for their bugle band in recognition of the war work that had been done by the Scouts, and also for their valuable services at the fete held in September.


Notice is hereby given that the ‘Reference Leaf’ in the Ration book now in use, must be completed by the holder of the book, who must sign the ‘Declaration of Renewal’ at the foot of that leaf, and must then deposit the leaf at the office of the Clerk to the Sub-committee of the area in which the holder resides, or at the Rural District Food Office, 15, Bridge Street, Morpeth, on or before the 21st day of September, 1918.

In the case of a family, the Reference Leaves should be pinned together, and so deposited at one time.

All persons residing in the district are hereby informed that the new Ration Books for the period commencing 2nd November, 1918 will be issued only to those who have deposited the Reference Leaf of the book now in use in accordance with the above directions.

By Order,


Executive Officer,

Morpeth Rural District

15 Bridge Street, Morpeth

9th September, 1918


The Officer Commanding the Gateshead War Hospital, Stannington (Lieut-Col. J.B. Tighe, R.A.M.C.), acknowledges with thanks the following gifts received for the patients:—

T. Pike, Gateshead, violin and two banjos; J.R. Mitchell, Esq., Morpeth, cello; Anonymous, cigarettes, playing cards and prizes for whist drive; Red Cross Society at St John’s Ambulance, games, books, and gramophone; music, Messrs Francis Day and Hunter Ltd, Messrs Hawkes and Son, The Lawrence Wright Music Company, Messrs W. Paxton and Co. Ltd.; Dramatic Sketches, Messrs Samuel French Ltd. To the “Comforts Fund”: The Mayor of Gateshead, £10; Mrs R.G. Leathan, Yorl, £5; A. J.½ Hades. Esq., York, £2.

A concert was given on Saturday 7th inst. by Mr Haggie and Party, of Newcastle.


The Commandant begs to thank the following for kindly contributing gifts during the week:—

Vegetables, Mrs Slater; eggs, butter and books, Mrs Rayne; potatoes, Mrs Bell, Meldon; vegetables, Hon. Mrs Joicey; eggs, Mr Pringle,vegetables, Mrs J.J. Gillespie; vegetables, marrow, Mrs Donnelly; brown loaf, Mrs J.S. Mackay; books, Mrs Buchan; flowers, Mrs Philip; apples and shoes, Mrs Jobling; mushrooms, Mr Mason, White Houses; cake, Miss Anderson; 30/-, vegetables, apples, and plants, Pegswood Flower Show; potatoes, Mrs Stoward; French beans, Mr Brumell.


A concert held under the auspices of the Red Cross, was given on Friday last, in the School-room, Whalton, for the purpose of obtaining funds for the provision of an invalid chair for above hospital.

A very high-class and enjoyable evening was contributed to by patients from Whalton and Morpeth V.A. Hospitals, and artisites from the district, and the sum of £3 3s was realised, which testifies to the success of the effort.


Lieut. W. G. Halford, the accomplished South African Dutchman, has been specially engaged to address a series of Open Air Meetings as under:

Mon., Sept. 16th.— Newburn, near the station.

Tue., Sept. 17th.— Seaton Delaval, Avenue Head.

Wed. Sept. 18th.— Broomhill Red Row, near Institute.

Thurs. Sept. 19th.— Lennington, near the Bridge.

Fri. Sept. 20th.— Klondyke, near Picture House.

Sat. Sept. 21st.— Ashington, near Grand Hotel.

All the meetings will commence at 7.00pm, except that at Ashington, which will commence at 4.00pm.

Ald. R Mason, M.P., will also address the meetings held at Newburn, Seaton Delaval, Broomhill, Ashington, and Newbiggin-by-the-Sea.

Come and hear Lt. Halford tell of his remarkable experiences.


Will be at the Town Hall, Morpeth, every Wednesday, from 9 to 12 o’clock, and would be very grateful if people would bring fresh vegetables to send to the Sailors.