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, 18th February 2018, 11:43 am
HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, February 15, 1918.

The monthly meeting of the Morpeth Rural District Council was held on Wednesday. The Rev. W.C. Ellis presided.

The Clerk presented the report of the Local Food Control Committee for the rural district.

HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, February 15, 1918.

The committee have to report that frequent meetings have been held since the last report on the various matters contained in the Orders of the Controller. The chairman (Mr C.E. Young) and clerk have attended meetings of the Advisory Committee for the Blyth and Wansbeck area with a view to securing, as far as possibly, unanimity of practice.

It has been decided to adopt a scheme of rationing for this district, and a preliminary scheme to cover butter, margarine, bacon and cheese is being prepared for submission to the Commissioner for approval.

Having regard to the probability of a national rationing scheme for meat being ordered by the Controller immediately it has not been thought desirable to deal with meat by a local scheme.

The committee have put in a claim for repayment of their expenses to 31st December last. The committee ask the Council to pass a cheque for £100 for their expenses to March at this meeting.

HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, February 15, 1918.

The Clerk intimated that he had had a call from Mr Williams, secretary of the War Savings Associations for Northumberland, stating that he wished it to be known that he was prepared to visit any village in the district and give a lantern lecture on certain phases of the war.

If they wished Mr Williams’ services any member could let him (the clerk) know, and he would communicate with Mr Williams.



The Executive Committee hereby give notice to occupiers of agricultural holdings in Northumberland that, unless otherwise authorised, tillage land, apart from that ordered to be broken out, or land growing a second grain crop, must be cultivated on a four course system.

The effect of this is that all seeds sown between the years 1913 and 1916 inclusive shall be broken out.

Occupiers who have reasons for desiring to be exempt from this Order are requested to apply, stating particulars, to the undersigned before March 31st, 1918.

C. WILLIAMS, Hon. Secretary

9 Eldon Square



Mrs Clayton, Spital Hill, Morpeth, has received news that her son, Lieut. Frank Clayton, Northumberland Fusiliers, has been awarded the Belgian Croix de Guerre.

He is transport officer to the brigade, and has been out in France since April, 1915.


The Institute Hall, Pegswood, was crowded last Monday evening on the occasion of a presentation to Sergeant William Brewis Atkinson, of the Northumberland Fusiliers, who was awarded the Military Medal for conspicuous gallantry and good work during the operations.

He rendered invaluable assistance by keeping the men of his platoon together, both before forming up for the attack and during the advance. Although badly wounded he attended to and dressed two wounded men, carrying one of them to the dressing station. He displayed great gallantry, coolness, and fortitude.

The presentation ceremony, which had been arranged by the Parish Council, was presided over by Mr Joseph King, chairman of the Council, and County Councillor G.R. Nichol made the presentation of a wallet containing treasury notes, the gift of his fellow workmen, and also pinned on the hero’s breast his medal.

The chairman said they were more than pleased to see such a large audience. They had assembled to welcome one of their brave men who had come amongst them again. He had done some gallant deeds on active service and they were proud of him (Applause).

County Councillor G.R. Nichol said that they lived today in a world of suffering, of anxiety, and difficulty. Burns aptly described what was taking place in the whole of Europe — “Man’s inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn.”

Well in the midst of this great European conflict, with all its trouble and all its disasters, they ought to be thankful that they could assemble on an occasion like that, where the human feeling was uppermost, and where they could have fellowship, one with another, in order to inspire and give them hope to meet the dark and conflicting days which they would be called upon to bear in the future.

There were three qualities that appealed to an Englishman — disinterestedness, practical power and, courage. He felt sure that they would re-echo his statements when he said that their guest possessed courage (Applause.) Their hero was a modest man. He was delighted to be associated with him that night.

Whatever their views on the war might be, they could all recognise a brave deed done by a brave man. He was glad that Pegswood was associated with those things. Some time ago they had made a presentation to Sergeant Smith. They would be pleased to learn that Mr Clark’s son, of Bothal, had been mentioned in despatches. (Applause.) They had present the father of a gallant officer. He referred to Lieut. Hutchinson who had gained the Military Cross (Applause), and had also had distinctions conferred upon him by the French and Belgian Governments (Applause.)

They were living in stirring times. Peace would come. It might be soon, if an honourable peace could be procured. (Applause.)

President Wilson had talked about a League of Nations. What was wanted today, prior to a League of Nationals, was a legal reason. When peace did come, he hoped it would not be made by the Kaiser or Kings or Governments. He hoped it would be a people’s peace — made by democracy — and that it would be a lasting peace. (Applause.)

He then pinned a medal on the breast of the hero amid much applause. He congratulated him on his well earned distinction, and expressed the hope that he would be long spared to wear his decoration. (Applause.) The audience then sang “For he’s a jolly good Fellow.”

The recipient in returning thanks said he had only done his duty. If any other man had been in his place he would have done the same thing.

County Councillor Nichol then said that on behalf of the workmen of the place he had much pleasure in handing over to their guest a wallet containing ten Treasury notes. He also said that the proceeds of the concert would be handed over to him.


A.B. George Davison, R.N.D., has been awarded the Military Medal for bringing in wounded from “No Man’s Land” under two barrages of fire at Passchendaele.


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

The Live Stock Committee had inspected the Corporation premises at the Herd’s House, and considered its suitability for use as a municipal piggery, and recommended:

That the Council be asked to consider the propriety of including a dairy in the scheme, and for that purpose purchasing three or four milch cows, and for the cows to be grazed on the Common.

That a range of about ten piggeries be erected on the south side of the fold, each with its own yard of about 6ft square, the remainder of the fold being left for use in common.

That a boiler for preparation of pig food be put into the present shed at the foot of the fold yard.

That the large middle garden, now occupied by the herd, be used in future for growing food for the Council’s live stock.

Mr Waterston said he opposed the whole scheme. It would be costly, about £10 for each pigsty. They proposed to erect ten pigsties, which would mean an expenditure of £100. There was the boiler, which would cost another £5, and a settling tank would make another £5. As for going round the town for refuse, they would not get it, as the people had their own people to serve. It was not an opportune time to start such a scheme. He moved that the scheme be not proceeded with.

Mr Armstrong moved that the scheme be adopted. With regard to the keeping of cows, he was quite willing that that portion of the report should be deleted as it was not in the original resolution. As for the erections, the probability was that they would not cost as much as Mr Waterston had intimated. It was an ideal place for keeping pigs.

He disagreed with Mr Waterston with regard to refuse. He believed they would get a larger quantity in Morpeth, especially at a time like this. He thought the people would rise to the occasion, and go out of their way to preserve refuse for the pigs. The centre garden was a large piece of ground, and would grow a large quantity of vegetables for the pigs.

People who kept pigs would not do so if it did not pay them, consequently it must be a source of profit. A pig would produce twice as much meat as a sheep in a shorter time. Taking all those things into consideration and the shortage of foodstuffs in the country, he thought they should embark on the scheme of keeping pigs.

The most important thing was to increase the food supply. There was no doubt whatever in his mind that before they were through the war they might be called upon to do other things. The probability was that they would have to set up a communal kitchen and authorise other things, which they never dreamt of two or three years ago.

He then moved the adoption of the report, with the part relating to the cows being deleted.

Mr Swinney said he was pleased that the mover had withdrawn the cows from the report. As regards the expense he was sure that if those piggeries were put up they would find plenty of people, if it was necessary, to take them over.

When the inhabitants got to know that the Council were making this effort to produce more food they would make an effort to save the refuse. It would not take a lot of collecting. The men were going round with the carts, and there was nothing to stop them from carrying a pail to hold the refuse.

He seconded Mr Armstrong’s motion.

Ald. Norman said they should carefully consider the matter before they embarked on laying out money at this time. They did not know what lay in front of them, and as Mr Armstrong said, they might be called upon to start a communal kitchen. The thing they ought not to do was to go practically blindfolded into this undertaking. They ought to ask the surveyor to give them an estimate of the initial cost of the scheme, and also some idea as to the man’s time looking after the pigs.

What is the state of the pig industry today? Everyone who used to keep 100 pigs has reduced their stock considerably. I inquired the reason, and was told that they could not get proper food to feed them. The Government would not allow them to buy the meal to make the pigs a decent size. If that is the experience of those who have kept pigs for years, it is a very risky time for us to commence the venture at this time. Before we commit ourselves we ought to have a report from the surveyor.

There is also the question of drainage to the burn, and we should consider whether we are justified increasing the nuisance that is caused from time to time. Mr Armstrong deserves every credit for endeavouring to meet the difficulties of the food problem, but let us look at the question fair and square and let us have the cost before we undertake the scheme. Circumstances will be so much against us that we will find it will not be a paying business.

Mr Turnbull said he was afraid that the cost of feeding stuff and the difficulty of procuring it would be the greatest difficulties. He would like to see the scheme carried out if it was possible to do so. He suggested that before embarking on the scheme they might try for a fortnight what quantity of refuse could be collected, and if they saw they could get sufficient they might go on with the scheme. The stuff collected during the fortnight need not be wasted for they could give it to people who kept pigs.

The Surveyor said that in regard to the refuse he had been taking particular notice during the last few days. There was a considerable number of private people keeping pigs, and everyone of them had an arrangement to collect refuse three or four times a week at certain places. He was extremely doubtful as to the ordinary householder supplying much refuse.

The Mayor thought the foodstuffs would be the great obstacle to the scheme. He had examined very closely the Corporation carts that had gone past, and he could not see any potato peelings or other waste products. They would find great difficulty in getting sufficient stuff from the householders.

Mr Armstrong had no doubt whatever that the difficulty of getting meal and that sort of stuff would be great, but other people could obtain it, why not the Council? The scheme would be a success, and more than that, it would increase the supply of food in the town.

Mr Charlton said that he had been in touch with pig dealers, and was told that the piggeries would pay if properly managed. If a man could get meal to feed one pig surely they could get meal for 20 pigs. With regard to the buildings it would not be a very expensive item. It would not cost more than £30. He was strongly in favour of the scheme being carried out without delay.

Mr Temple said that from what he could learn there was a lot of trouble and work in connection with a piggery, but that it was a paying concern. He had been told that the scheme could be carried out nicely.

The Mayor said that if there were no feeding-stuffs the scheme would not pay. Practical men had told him that they were only keeping 10 or 12 pigs instead of 50 formerly. They had been told by the surveyor that the places where the refuse was obtainable was already collected regularly. Let them first get the initial cost of erecting pigsties, the price of feeding-stuffs, and ascertain whether meal was available. They might also carry out Mr Turnbull’s suggestion.

It was decided by six votes to five that the question be referred back to the committee to obtain the cost of erecting pigsties, etc., and also ascertain whether feeding material was obtainable.


During the week the Morpeth school teachers have been engaged in distributing forms of application for rationing cards under the scheme which comes into force on February 28th, and in collecting the completed forms and delivering food cards in exchange for them.

We are asked by the Food Office to say that though every care has been taken to make this part of the work as complete as possible, it is conceivable that some persons may not have received their cards. If such exist they should apply at once to the Food office, 7 Bridge Street, Morpeth.

After the 27th only those who have cards will be able to obtain tea, butter, margarine, bacon, or cheese.


The Town Clerk submitted an application from T. Turnbull, Park House, for use of the Town Hall for a dance in aid of the War Heroes’ Fund.— Agreed that the application be granted “but that there be no deviation from the scale charge.”

The surveyor was instructed to get back what he could of the hospital furnishings lent to the V.A.D., and to purchase other things really necessary for the Isolation Hospital, to replace those now returned, lost, broken, or worn out.

The Town Clerk read a letter from the Aldershot Town Council with a copy of a resolution urging the Government to make war allotments permanent.— Recommended that the Council pass a resolution in similar terms.— Agreed to.

The Mayor gave a report of his and the Town Clerk’s interview with an inspector from the Board of Agriculture as to the provision of additional allotments in the borough.— Recommended that the report and a circular as to spraying machine and other matters be dealt with by the Allotments Committee.— Adopted.

The Mayor announced that the had received the following letter from the War Office:— “In reply to your letter I am directed to inform you that careful consideration will be given to your application when the distribution of trophies is made. No distribution of trophies is, however, being made at present.— Signed Secretary, War Trophies Committee.”


A public meeting will be held on Saturday, February 16th, 1918, in the Croft Co-Operative Hall, BlytH, when addresses will be given by Coun. J.W. Kneeshan, Labour candidate for Birmingham, who will attend as the representative of the Union of Democratic Control.

Subject: “The Problems Of A Democratic Peace.”

Also by Mr John Cairns, J.P., M.B.E., Labour candidate for Morpeth.

Chair to be taken at 6pm by Mr J. Hill, J.P., Past President of Trade Union Congress.

The public generally, Trade Unionists, and Co-operations, are cordially invited to attend.


In furtherance of the National Farmers’ Union campaign, two meetings were held last Thursday — one in Acklington Auction Mart and another in Smith’s Assembly Rooms, Ponteland.

At the former Mr Moffitt, of Field House, occupied the chair, and impressed upon those present the importance of becoming members of one body. In that way they would speak with one voice, and promote their interests better than the could at present.

Mr J.B. Ralph presided over the Ponteland meeting, and remarked that this effort in connection with the National Union was long overdue. For many years it had been felt that some such union should be formed, but farmers were very conservative. The war, however, had altered conditions very considerably, and without a strong union they would have no voice in the reconstruction schemes that must come after the war.

Mr Harrison said he was pleased to see such a representative gathering of farmers. It was up to them to set their house in order, and the time had come when they must organise. They were sufficiently educated and quite intelligent enough to deal with all questions, and to give advice to the Government and the country as to their needs and requirements.

It was decided to form a branch of the union, and Mr J.B. Ralph was elected chairman, with Mr G. Ord, Kirkley, as secretary.


After serving eight or nine months with the Colours, Mr W. Storey, farmer, Longhorsley, has been sent home by the War Office to attend to his farm. By way of welcoming his return, a number of local agriculturists accorded Mr Storey a complimentary Ploughing Day.

Twenty-two acres of old grass land were nearly all turned over in first-class style by three o’clock, and every credit is due to the stewards, Messrs J. Clark, E.T. Ornsby, J. Wanless, T. Rutherford and J. Marshall for the way the proceedings were carried through.


The Commandant wishes to acknowledge the following gifts with many thanks:— Mrs J.S. Mackay, brown loaf; Mr Geo. Temple, rhubarb; Mrs Rayne, cake, butter, marmalade, and eggs; Miss Davidson, eggs and beans; Mrs J. Simpson, cake; Mrs Swanson, papers; Miss Hudson, Barmoor, apples and plant; Hon. Mrs A. Joicey, papers’ boys at Council School for collecting vegetables; Mrs Clayton, Rothley Crag, vegetables; employees at Mr G.B. Grey’s for £5, the proceeds of a dance.

The Commandant also wishes to thank Miss Brown and friends at Mitford for a delightful concert and tea, which they provided for the patients a short while since, and also for their kindness in conveying them to and from Mitford.


The first gathering of a social character which has been held at Hepscott for more than 20 years took place in Hepscott schoolroom on Friday last. It took the form of a whist drive and dance, organised by a committee of ladies and gentlemen of the village, and proved both enjoyable and successful.

The proceeds, which amounted to over £19, were divided between Morpeth V.A.D. and Cottage Hospital. Donations of money and food were most generously given by the people of the village and district.