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.

Sunday, 22nd October 2017, 11:50 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 12:02 pm
HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, October 19, 1917.

Another Morpeth soldier has gained distinction on the field of battle.

Mr and Mrs Gibbon, 6 Edward Street, have received word from their youngest son, Private R. Gibbon, N.F., that he has been awarded the D.C.M.


Mrs Wastle, Old Gaol Yard, Morpeth, has received the sad news that her second son, Private Robert Robson Wastle, Yorkshire Regiment, was killed in France on the 4th inst.

Private Wastle was educated at the Free School, Morpeth, under Ald. R. Carr, and he served his apprenticeship with Mr J.H. Hudson, grocer, Morpeth. He was afterwards an assistant with Mr T. Rutherford, grocer, where he was when he joined the Army in April last.

He has been in France only two months. He was a member of the Church Men’s Bible Class, and was much respected in the town.


Everything is going well in local volunteer circles. It is gratifying to note that rapid progress is being made by the Morpeth Company towards efficiency.

A special feature of the work at present is musketry instruction. The attendances at drill is very satisfactory and the general bearing of the men on parade is excellent.

Although more recruits for the duration of the war are still required to bring the Company up to full strength, yet the new enrolments during the past few days have been satisfactory. Every man has now been equipped with a rifle and bayonet.

It is interesting to note that the Armoury at the Drill Hall, Morpeth, is to be utilised as a club room for members of the corps, and it is expected that the club will be opened one day next week. Newspapers, games, etc., will be provided.

Last Sunday a large number of the men from the Morpeth, Ashington, Felton, and Alnwick detachments attended at the Common and went through their musketry tests on the range. The shooting was on the whole good.

Yesterday a further batch of the men from Morpeth and district fired their course with very satisfactory results.


A meeting of the Northumberland Insurance Committee was held on Tuesday, at the Moot Hall, Newcastle, Mr F.E. Schofield (Morpeth), presiding.

Attention was drawn to the fact that more doctors were being called up, and it was suggested that, as medical men were still waiting in large numbers for commissions in the R.A.M.C. steps should be taken to put the case for insured persons before the proper authorities, because the medical men at home were so full of work that visits to insured patients had of necessity to be hurried.

A member said he knew of a centre where 500 doctors were stationed, and they were doing nothing but waiting for work. As a matter of fact, several had returned home because they had nothing to do.

A medical officer of the committee said that all these cases were dealt with by a committee of the British Medical Association.

It was suggested that as a result of doctors being called up unnecessarily insured persons were being neglected, and it was decided that the committee should make inquiries into the subject.


On Sunday the members of the Congregational Church, Morpeth, held their annual harvest thanksgiving services, which were attended by large congregations.

The pulpit and communion rails were tastefully decorated with chrysanthemums and evergreens, whilst a table was heavily laden with fruit and vegetables of every description. The special preacher for the occasion was the Rev. T. Rook, M.A., Whitley Bay, who preached eloquent sermons at both services.

At night he alluded in very appropriate language to the great conflict which has been raging in Europe for the past three years. He hoped — and he was sure — that the dawn of a better world was breaking, after the lives of so many brave and noble men had been sacrificed, who, if the had lived, might have left an honourable mark in the history of the world.

A duet, “O lovely peace,” was admirably rendered by Mrs Mitchell and Mrs Edward Swinney, whilst Mrs Mitchell gave a delightful rendering of “He is mindful of His own.”


Sugar cards have been despatched to 1,665 applicants in respect of 6,294 persons.

The Committee have granted 19 manufacturers’ licenses. Certificates have been granted to 29 registered retailers. Authority to obtain supplies of sugar have been issued to 12 caterers and 8 institutions.

The Committee hope to be able to attend to the questions of meat and milk prices next week.

On the question of coal prices the following letter has just been issued by the Board of Trade to local authorities, who are dealing with the matter:—

Sir,— With reference to the letter which was addressed to you from this office on the 12th of September on the subject of retail prices of house coal, I am directed by the Controller of Coal Mines to inform you that a deputation from the factors acting as agents for colliers selling coal from North Eastern Railway Company’s depots attended here on October 3rd, accompanied by a representative of the North Eastern Railway to explain the conditions under which coal is sold from these depots.

It appears that it is the practice to allot cells of depots at the various stations to particular colliery companies, and that the stationmaster or depot agent acts as retail selling agent for the whole of the collieries (or their agents or factors) having allotments at the station or depot.

The North Eastern Railway Company have always exercised a close supervision over the trade, and they are prepared to assist so far as they can in maintaining prices at a reasonable level at the stations on their system.

The colliery companies, factors and agents on whose behalf the coal is sold, are prepared to limit the prices at the depots to amounts exceeding by not more than 8/- per ton the prices in operation immediately prior to the war, with the further condition that in no case shall the present prices be increased so long as pit prices remain at their present levels.

This sum of 8/- includes the recent increase of 2/6 per ton in colliery prices mentioned in the printed letter addressed to you on the 12th October.

The Controller is satisfied that the arrangement suggested is a reasonable one, and the railway company, who have full information as to present and pre-war prices at their disposal, propose to examine the prices at each of their depots in order to ensure that in all cases this arrangement shall be carried out.

In the circumstances the local authorities may assume that so far as the prices under this arrangement are concerned they are in accordance with the requirements of the Retail Coal Prices order, 1917, and it will only be necessary for them to proceed with the fixing and publication of prices so far as regards the sale of coal by dealers and merchants, which it is understood is mainly confined to the trade in the more thickly populated areas.— Yours, etc.,



A very interesting event took place on Thursday evening last week at Angerton Hall, when the tenant farmers and employees on the estate took the opportunity of making presentations to Lieut. Richard Straker, he being at home on a short leave from France.

Mr F. Straker said: Ladies and gentlemen,— This is an impromptu gathering of the tenants and employees on the Angerton estate to enable my son, who is on short leave from the Western Front, to thank you personally for the handsome presents you have given him on his attaining his majority. I only wish that it had been possible for me to entertain you in an manor more suitable to the occasion. I think that the proceedings should commence by our drinking the health of the King.— This was done in a right loyal manner.

Mr John T. Hall, of Low Angerton, said that it was suggested that some gift ought to be given by the tenant farmers to Master Richard Straker, on having attained 21 years of age, so some of them who were attending the Newcastle market were commissioned to select something suitable.

They expressed their fullest sympathy with Lieut. Straker, as he fulfils his trying duties at the Front, and as the gardener watched the blossoming of a favourite rose or the parent the developing of the character of a child, so the tenant farmers on the Angerton estate would watch with intense interest the developing of the character of Master Richard Straker in purity, nobleness and righteousness, and to encourage him in that course.

He had now much pleasure in presenting him with that rose bowl on behalf of the tenant farmers. (Applause.)

Mr A. Shields, the oldest servant, made the presentation on behalf of the employees, the gift being a sold silver salver. In handing it over, he said: It is with great pleasure we all meet here tonight on this special occasion for the presentation in connection with Master Richard Straker’s coming-of-age. I am sure it is everybody’s good wish that this war may soon come to an end, and to him a safe return to his happy home with the best of health to spend many happy years amongst us all. (Applause.)

Lieut. Richard Straker said: — The first thing I want to do is to thank you from the very bottom of my heart for the most magnificent gifts. I shall value them all my life, first for their worth and beauty, and second, but most important of all, for what I think and feel of those who have given them to me, the oldest friends I have in the world.

I always regard the tenants and employees of this estate as a large family gathered together around Angerton. On looking round there are many faces which I miss tonight. Where are they? What are they doing? Attending a bigger function than this. Doing their duty. Some amongst the infantry, some the artillery, some the Army Service Corps, and some at the bases.

Those in the infantry have undoubtedly the most dangerous time; they live a life of continual strain. They are the people who win the ground and kill the enemy. Those on the Artillery may possibly have a less perilous time, yet they form the screen in front of our advancing infantry. Those on the Army Service Corps, and at the bases, certainly have a less dangerous time, by are by no means the least important. They bring up the supplies and ammunition to the firing line, without which the Army could not last two days.

We will all be pleased when it is over, and the absent ones’ faces are back again. So I feel sure before we go, we ought to pay our respects and wish them all the best of luck and speedy and safe return.

I wish to thank you all again for the beautiful presents you have given me, which I shall value all my life and hand down to the generations to come. (Applause.) I ask you to drink to the health of absent friends.

Mr F. Straker said: I wish to associate myself with my son in thanking you for the very handsome presents you have given him. I take this generosity upon your part to mean that the goodwill which has always existed between myself and yourselves will be continued when I am gone to my son, if he is fortunate enough to come safely through this terrible war, which God permit.

We have heard a great deal lately of State ownership, and also of the advantageous position farmers are in who own their own farms. I cannot agree with either of these propositions, and am absolutely convinced that a good farmer will never be in a better position than when farming under a good landlord.

Agriculture, with which most of you are connected, is being carried on under difficult conditions at present. A large amount of grassland will have to be ploughed out if this country is to find a larger proportion of the grain necessary for the food of the people, and I quite expect that as the populations of the Americas, Canada, and Australia increase that more land still will have to come under the plough.

Also farmers have restrictions of many kinds to observe, and there are maximum and minimum prices without end. Permits are required to sell. Permits are required to buy. Soon we shall require permits to live, and possibly permits to die. (Laughter.)

Well, gentlemen, all these restrictions are very worrying, but if they benefit the community and help to win the war, we shall all just have to do our best to comply with them.

I sometimes think, however, that the powers that be hardly realise that the cultivation of land is a continuing operation from year to year, and does not cease in the harvesting of a particular crop or the production of a particular article, and a settled policy is essential for carrying on the farmer’s business. This has certainly not been the case of late.

Now a few words as regards those who from this estate are helping the old country to win the war. There were seven young men, sons of tenants upon this estate, available for military service, and four of these are now in the Army, very good reasons being forthcoming why the remaining three had to stay at home.

Of the employees, 29 joined His Majesty’s Forces of their own free will. Three of these had made the supreme sacrifice, and four had been wounded. I beg to propose the health of the tenants and the employees on the Angerton estate. (Applause.)

Mr C. Webb said: I am very pleased to have the opportunity of saying a few words concerning Master Richard. I must say how very pleased we all would have been to have seen you here on your twenty-first birthday, but we know the reason why you were absent. You were away helping to keep the Kaiser and his murderers from over-running contemptible little England. If it hadn’t been for you and such as you, they would have done so.

Now I propose the health of Master Richard and wish him a safe and speedy return. (Applause.)

Lieut. Richard Straker suitable replied.

A very happy evening was brought to a close by Mr Webb singing his favourite song, “Wellington Boots.”


Sir,— At the request of Mrs Fullarton James, Commandant of the Red Cross Hospital, Morpeth, it has been decided to hold the flag day in aid of the British Red Cross and Order Of St John Of Jerusalem on Wednesday, November 7th (Fair Day).

We feel sure that everyone will support this most worthy object and that the Morpeth “Our Day” will be a thorough success, as it has proved all over England, and so make the grand work being done an assured continuance and even extended in its usefulness.

The secretary and myself will be pleased to send flags and boxes to any of the villages near Morpeth who would undertake to make a house-to-house collection, as we feel sure that everyone wants to support this object, and would only be too pleased if asked to do so.

We will also be pleased to acknowledge any subscriptions.— Yours, etc.,

A. TEMPLE, Mayoress, Alexandra Road;

R.N. SWINNEY, Secretary,

“Ashleigh,” King’s Avenue.


Sir,— We feel that we cannot refrain from writing a few words of thanks to all those who so nobly came forward to help the Y.M.C.A. flag days at Morpeth and the district round.

The magnificent sum of £100 was collected by contributions and sale of flags, and most grateful thanks has been received from the head office in London, and we, in our turn, thank all the helpers who gave their time to help such a good cause, which was crowned with so much success.— Yours, etc.,


Meldon Park, Morpeth