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, 3rd February 2018, 11:02 am
HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, February 1, 1918.

Mr Philip J. Ryan, from the Food Economy Office, Newcastle, addressed a large gathering on Saturday evening at the Playhouse and the Avenue Theatre, Morpeth, on our food position. Mr Jacob Shaw, of Stakeford Bridge, presided.

The speaker pointed out that the Germans were now relying upon the success of their U-boat piracy, and their one hope was to starve us out. They believe that the food shortage in this country would become so serious that the people would rise up and demand the stoppage of the war.

HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, February 1, 1918.

But our people would stand the test of endurance and would remain steadfast to the end, till victory crowned their efforts.

But although the position was serious, said the speaker, still if the people of the country, stirred by the sense of their responsibility, will make liberal sacrifices we can snap our fingers at the enemy.

It would be the greatest tragedy in history, if after all our sacrifice of blood and treasure, we were to have an inconclusive peace that would leave German autocracy in power, and would hand down to our children a heritage of slavery.

To secure a smashing victory we must eat loyally and co-operate whole-heartedly in saving food. In this capacity we can all be early peace bringers.

HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, February 1, 1918.


A general meeting will be held in the White Swan Inn, Morpeth, for Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers, on Wednesday Night, Feb 6th, at 6.30, when all members and intending members are required to attend.

(Signed) J.W. Bushby,



On Monday evening the patients in the Morpeth V.A.D. Hospital were entertained for fully an hour by Mr S.H. Pegg, who is well-known locally as a clever conjurer.

After being introduced by Miss Young, the entertainer soon became the centre of attraction, and he fairly mystified his audience with his conjuring tricks, which were all smartly and cleverly performed.

At the close he was heartily thanked for providing such a pleasing entertainment.


The monthly meeting of the Morpeth Board of Guardians was held on Wednesday. The Hon. and Rev. W.C. Ellis presided.

Mr Craigs presented the contracts for the ensuing months. He said that the committee recommended that the following be accepted:— Jas. Elliott, greengrocer; W.A. Grey, groceries and W. Duncan for bread and flour.

No contract for butcher meat, he said, had been offered, but it would be of interest to the members to know that each inmate was allowed 13½ oz. of meat per week. It did not seem much for an adult, especially when they took into consideration that German prisoners of war were allowed 35oz. a week.

Mr Dodds: It’s a shame that such should be the case.

Mr Young: Some of the people of Morpeth are not getting that allowance.

Mr Dodds: I think we should protest against it.

The contracts were accepted without further comment, and the purchasing of the butcher meat was left to the Master.


A meeting of the Northumberland Education Committee was held yesterday at the Moot Hall at Newcastle, Ald. A.E. Bell presiding.

The Higher Education Sub-Committee reported that a letter had been received from the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries asking the Education Committee to put into operation in the county a scheme of the Board, similar to that adopted last year, for the improvement of poultry by the distribution of sittings of eggs of pure breeds to cottagers and smallholders by keepers of approved poultry to be recognised as station holders; and applications by Henry Miles of Ashington and Ralph Shipley of Haydon Bridge for recognition again this year as station holders.

Scheme to be put into operation again this year and Board be recommended to recognise the two applicants as station holders. Agreed to.

The Health and Attendance Sub-Committee intimated that a letter had been received from the Food Commissioner of Northumberland asking the Education Committee to allow on the application of local Food Control Committees the services of teachers for one week for initiating the scheme, and the consequent closing of the schools.

Recommended that consent be given in cases where teachers are willing to act and no other help is available, the period of closure of a school not to exceed three days.

Mr Craigs stated that at the meeting of the managers of the Hirst Schools on Wednesday it was decided to grant the whole of the teachers in the district a full week to do the work.

The Chairman said he had received a letter from the clerk to the managers that morning stating that all the schools would be closed for a week, except the infants, commencing on 4th February.

Mr Craigs pointed out that the infants school had already been closed owing to a defect in the heating apparatus, and the managers thought they would not close in that case for a second week.

Mr T. Welsh, Newbiggin, said that so far as their district was concerned, the work had been very successfully carried out in three days.

Mr Weir: It was done in three days at Gosforth, and in a larger district there were more teachers for the work.

Mr Gilbertson said he understood it took them a week in Newcastle and were working very long hours.

Mr Craigs stated that there were 26,000 cards to be distributed in the Ashington district. He had been informed that the teachers would only work from 9 to 3 in the afternoon.

Chairman: That means only school hours.

Mr Craigs said he thought the teachers would be patriotic enough to help all they could in this time of crisis.

Chairman: But Newbiggin, Earsdon, Seaton Delaval, and Gosforth did the work on three days.

It was finally decided to adopt the report without any amendment.

On consideration of applications for leave of absence of teachers who are members of volunteer regiments to attend short courses of military instruction, it was agreed that leave be granted with payment of salary provided satisfactory arrangements can be made for carrying on the school.

Application by the Assistant Commissioner for Food Economy for Northumberland for permission to approach head teachers of schools in the county for the purpose of enlisting their co-operation in securing members for the League of National Safety, the object of which is to pledge its members to live within the scale of voluntary rations.

The following recommendations of the Selection and General Purpose Sub-Committee were also adopted:—

That it be a recommendation to the Establishment Committee of the County Council:—

(1) to increase as from the 1st January, 1918 (i) the war bonus from 6/- to 10/- per week in the case of school attendance officers, and (ii) the war bonus from 3/- to 6/- per week in the case of the school health visitors on the permanent staff.

(2) to pay the temporary health visitors, of whom there are at present three, the war bonus payable to those upon the permanent staff.

Report of the secretary stating that with the approval of the chairman and of the Morpeth Borough Council the lessees of Morpeth Infants’ Council School, permission had been granted to Mrs Gertrude E. Smith, of Manor House, Whalton, on behalf of the Morpeth V.A.D. Hospital, to erect at the school, which has been used for some time past for hospital purposes, a temporary building to be used as a dining room, and to construct two doorways in the existing boundary wall, on certain terms, which are to be embodied in a formal agreement and which provide for (a) the continuance of the present arrangement under which the hospital authorities are responsible for all expenses whatever incidental to the occupation of the school for a V.A.D. hospital, including all expenses in respect of temporary school accommodation, and storage, removal and damage to school furniture, (b) the termination of the occupancy of the school and temporary additions on three months’ notice or forthwith if the tenancy of the present temporary school premises is determined, and (c) the removal by the hospital authorities of all temporary erections and the restoration of the school premises to the satisfaction of the Morpeth Borough Council and the Education Committee, except that the committee shall have the option of purchasing the dining room and any other additions at a valuation by an independent valuer.

On the recommendation of the School Buildings Sub-Committee, the action taken was approved and confirmed.

In connection with the campaign for economy in the use of foodstuffs, it was reported that classes for housewives had been held at various centres in the county under the supervision of the county instructress in domestic subjects, with the assistance of a temporary additional teacher, at an expenditure limited in the first instance to £30, but as a result of the success achieved, the classes had been continued at a further cost not exceeding £50.

Saturday classes for the instruction of selected teachers of secondary and elementary schools, both men and women, in the subject of gardening, had been established, it was reported, under regulations of the Board of Education, which would make a grant towards the expenditure.

The course consisted of six lectures and demonstrations held monthly at four centres by the county instructor in gardening, tuition being free and railway fares refunded. Out of 220 applications to attend the course, 136 teachers had been selected.


CHARLTON.— Killed in action on the 13th of January, 1918, Henry, dearly beloved husband of Cissie Charlton, of 11 West Greens, Morpeth, and youngest son of the late George Charlton, of Carlisle House, and formerly of Collingwood Gardens, Morpeth. Deeply mourned.


Mrs Hedley, Hartburn, has been officially informed that her husband, Private William Hedley, was posted missing on October 4th, 1917.

Mr and Mrs C. Higgins, 9 North Terrace, Wideopen, have received official news that their nephew, Private C. Higgins, Leicester Regiment, has died on active service.

Mrs R. Ingham, 1 Jackson’s Yard, Morpeth, has received news that her husband, Lance-Corporal R. Ingham, Somerset Light Infantry, has been wounded in action. This is the third time he has been wounded.

Mr and Mrs Robert Maxwell, 32 Beach Terrace, Newbiggin, have received official information that their son, Able Seaman James Henry Maxwell, R.N.D., was killed in action on December 30th, 1917. Seaman Maxwell, who was employed at Newbiggin Colliery previous to enlisting in 1914, served in the Dardanelles campaign and afterwards in France.

Second-Lieut. Tate, N.F., youngest son of Mr and Mrs Andrew Tate, 49 Woodbine Road, Gosforth, was killed in action on January 20th.

First Class Stoker John Lillico, Seghill, has been lost at sea.

William Lilburn, son of the late Mr and Mrs Lilburn, Bedlington Colliery, has been lost at sea.

Mrs E. Masterson, 9 Anderson’s Building, High Row, Dudley, has received official news that her son, Private M.L. Masterson, Somerset Light Infantry, reported missing since April 23rd, 1917, is now presumed dead.

Private W. Nicholson, New Hartley, of the Scottish Rifles, had died of wounds.

Private George Parker, 63 Front Street, Annitsford, has been killed in action.

News has been received that Robert Foster, 4 Silver Street, Blyth, was lost at sea on August 24th last.

Lance-Sergeant Robert Lowes, West Row, North Seaton, has died in Germany from wounds received in action.

Private Fred Arkle, 40 Dene Row, Bates Cottages, Seaton Delaval, has been killed in action.

The authorities have now confirmed the loss at sea by enemy action of William Lilburn, whose sister (Mrs Howes) resides at 38 New Row, New Delaval. Lilburn, who was 33 years of age, had been in the Merchant Service, and was engaged on transport work in the Mediterranean at the time of the occurrence, which took place so long ago as August 26th of last year.

Mr and Mrs R.W. Jackson, 5 The Poplars, Gosforth, have received official news that their son (only child), Lieut. H.W. Jackson, was killed in action on January 20th in France, by the bursting of a shell.

Mr and Mrs Golden, of Front Street, Guide Post, has lost one son, one brother-in-law, two nephews, and one cousin, and their son in law, Mr Edward Candlish has been discharged from the Army as the result wounds, and they have two other sons on active service.

Mr and Mrs E. Turnbull, of Heighley Cottage, have received news that their son, Corporal J.R. Turnbull, E.Y., late Scottish Horse, is dangerously ill at 5th Casualty Clearing Station, France, suffering from nyhritis.

Mr and Mrs Goodman, 3 Middle Row, Dudley Colliery, have received official news that their son Able Seaman John Robert Goodman, R.N.D., was posted missing on December 30th.


It is noteworthy that amongst the first soldiers to march with victorious steps into Jerusalem were soldiers whose well-shod feet were encased by socks which were knitted by Morpeth ladies.

More speed to their busy needles!


The Mayor of Morpeth has been appealed to by Rear-Admiral Mark Kerr, C.B., M.V.O., R.N., Deputy Chief of the Air Staff, to assist him in an appeal that is being made inviting the co-operation of theatres, music halls, and cinemas to give performances in aid of a fund for raising £500,000 for the purpose of extending the work of the Y.M.C.A. Huts.

Admiral Kerr writes:— “The Y.M.C.A. huts are often the only place where men can go and rest, read and write, and have entertainments. They are invaluable in keeping up the morale and giving rest to the men, and generally are the only place where tea and writing paper and books can be obtained.

“The cry for more huts comes in continually from all fronts, and the Y.M.C.A. have exceeded their balance and run into debt to the extent of £300,000. It is necessary to pay off this debt and have a balance in hand for the ever-expanding wants of our fighting men.”

The Mayor (Councillor Jas. Elliott) has handed this urgent appeal to the directors of Picturesland (Morpeth), Limited and the company have agreed to arrange a special matinee performance on Thursday afternoon, February 28th, when a special performance will be given, and the whole of the proceeds given to this most worthy and necessary object.

We trust that the public of Morpeth will note this date and give their whole hearted support to so good a cause.


Last Saturday was the Children’s Day in the Borough of Morpeth so far as the mayor and the management of the Playhouse Morpeth, were concerned.

Through the generosity of His Worship (Councillor James Elliott), something like eight hundred children, some six hundred of his little guests being the youngsters of our gallant Morpeth men who are serving on land and sea, were entertained to a programme suitable to their young minds. And they enjoyed themselves too.

Mr Tinsley took special care of his charges, many of whom were accompanied by their parents, and gave them an afternoon’s programme which will not readily be forgotten.

The Mayor, accompanied by the Mayoress, took keen delight in the youngsters. He exhorted them to think of their fathers and brothers who were fighting our battles across the seas. He himself would be their father for that afternoon, and he was more than gratified when he saw so many happy faces there that day, and he knew that they were all enjoying themselves. He was also certain that that would not be the last occasion on which he and the children of the borough would meet under such happy circumstances.

At the conclusion of the programme, on the request of the Mayor, the children rendered the National Anthem.


The twelfth annual meeting of the North Eastern Agricultural Federation, held last Friday in the Palace Theatre, Newcastle, under the chairmanship of Mr G.G. Rea (president), derived special interest and importance from the fact that it was attended by the President of the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries (Mr R.E. Prothero), who gave an address. He had a very large audience.

The Chairman extended a hearty welcome to Mr Prothero, who, he said, had the interest of the farmer thoroughly at heart, and had a practical knowledge of Agriculture.

A great effort in the way of organisation was needed. Each farmer should belong to an association. They had seen the results of their not being properly organised. They had thrust upon them orders which they knew to be antagonistic, not only to their own interests but also to the interests of the consumer and of the country at large.

Mr R. Thornton (Kielder) moved: “That this Federation pledges itself to do its utmost to increase the production of Food, within its area, and recognises that some control of prices is necessary in the present crisis; but urges such control be exercised in a manner calculated to encourage production, and not to diminish it by destroying the confidence of Agriculturists, as has been the tendency of many of the Orders hitherto.”

Mr Thornton said that as loyal citizens it was their duty to do their level best to produce food for man and beast. They had been hampered to some extent, and possibly discouraged by orders thrust upon them without warning.

The Meat Order, for instance, had had most drastic effects. They were, he contended, entitled to be consulted in some shape or form before these orders were put into force. He believed that the early lamb order would also have drastic effects.

Mr O. McBryde (Pegswood), seconding the resolution, said they were all willing to do their part in the direction of producing food. But confidences between the various Boards in London and the farmers were essential.

Mr Prothero, in the course of an address, said he could not discuss prices. What he wanted farmers to do was to organise. At present the authorities could only consult isolated farmers. He hoped the North-Eastern Federation would be largely increased as a result of that meeting. It would be more useful to those in London, as well as farmers.