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.

Friday, 23rd June 2017, 3:37 pm
HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, June 22, 1917.

On Sunday afternoon Mr and Mrs George Renwick entertained at their residence, Springhill, Morpeth, a party of 87 wounded soldiers, among whom were several officers from the Northumberland War Hospital, Gosforth.

The outing was arranged under the auspices of the Newcastle and Gateshead Chamber of Commerce Military Committee, and the men were conveyed by private motor cars under the direction of Mr R. Robson, Commandant, Northumberland Voluntary Aid Transport Detachment.

HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, June 22, 1917.

On their arrival at Springhill the wounded were heartily welcomed by Mr and Mrs Renwick. The weather was beautifully fine, and the men thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

After inspecting the gardens and walking through the grounds the men had tea on the lawn, and the good fare provided was greatly appreciated. A plentiful supply of smokes and confectionary, pictorials, games, etc., were provided.

Everything was done for the comfort and pleasure of the soldier guests.

After tea a musical treat was given by two well-known ladies — Mrs Fred Anderson and Miss Heenan; Mr S. Pegg of Morpeth also contributed to the entertainment. The Morpeth Pipers Band was also in attendance, and played pleasing selections both afternoon and evening.

HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, June 22, 1917.

Before leaving, the soldiers, on the motion of Captain A.O. Woods, Australian Imperial Force, seconded by Major R. Temperley, gave three rousing cheers to Mr and Mrs Renwick for their generous hospitality.


The ladies of the parish of Ponteland, under the guidance of Mrs Langton, provided an al fresco entertainment to eight wounded soldiers from Whinney House and Saltfell Towers Hospitals, Gateshead.

The weather was beautifully fine, and the good fare provided was much appreciated by the soldiers. Various games followed and substantial prizes were presented to the winners by Mrs Langton.

The party were conveyed to Ponteland by brake and train, under the care of Messrs Simms and Metcalfe, assisted by the ladies of the Gateshead Wounded Soldiers’ Entertainment Committee.

Mr Metcalfe proposed a vote of thanks to all concerned in giving such a treat, and the Rev. F. Langton replied on behalf of his committee, as also did Mrs Langton.

The hon. secretary (Mr W. Simms) announced that Mr Collingwood, of Dissington Hall, who was present at the gathering, had invited the wounded men to picnic at his residence on the 4th July, and that the invitation would be accepted with pleasure.


The Ponteland War Food Society demonstrated the utility of such organisations in the way of stimulating interest and activity in food production in the time of war by arranging for two addresses and a practical demonstration in the spraying of potatoes. The addresses were given in the Council Schools, Mr Jamieson presiding.

Mr C.W. Mayhew, Northumberland County expert, dealt with a few of the more destructive insect pests of fruit and vegetables, and how they can be combated. Most cultivators, he said, regarded pests with mild interest and resignation. In the time of war the tithe of our crops which these pests exacted could not be forborne.

The second address was by Mr S.P. Mercer, of the Agricultural Department of Armstrong College, and Divisional Organiser of the Potato Spraying Campaign.

In dealing with the nature of potato “blight” disease, he emphasised the necessity of spraying to prevent and not to cure it. Once the disease developed it was impossible to cure it. People insured their homes against fire and he urged the adoption of the same principle with regard to potato disease, which was far more likely to destroy their crop than was fire to destroy their house.

In the school garden the two speakers gave a demonstration in spraying. The construction of the sprayer, how much could be sprayed in a day, i.e. ½ to 1 acre, when to spray, and much other valuable information was given during the exhibition.

The chairman, in moving a vote of thanks to the lecturers, said he thought the society had justified its formation. Co-operative buying to the extent of £50 had been carried out.


An interesting presentation took place in the vestry of St George’s Presbyterian Church, Morpeth, last Sunday evening, the recipient being Private H. Cook, of the Cheshire Yeomanry. While stationed in this town Private Cook, who is an exceptionally fine player of the organ, acted as organist at St George’s.

The gift, which took the form of a handsome silver inkstand, bears the following inscription:— “Presented by St George’s Church, Morpeth, to Private H. Cook, in grateful recognition of capable and devoted service freely rendered as organist, 1916-17.” Mr F.E. Schofield presided over the ceremony.

The Chairman said they had met to make a presentation to their good friend, Private Cook. Duty was the first word for a good sailor or soldier, and Private Cook, in his ordinary vocation in life, responded to the call of duty and joined the Army.

It was delightful to think that while discharging his soldier’s duties he did not forget his duty as a civilian, because when he saw the need there was for someone to play the organ, their own organist also having to join the Army, he responded to the request to play the organ like a man. They all knew with what efficiency he had done so for some time.

They all hoped that if Private Cook had to go to the Front, he would be spared to come back, and for many years enjoy the use of the beautiful silver inkstand they were about to present to him. It would help him to look back with the greatest possible pleasure to his stay with his regiment in Morpeth.

He thought it would add to the interest of the occasion for him to receive the present from a soldier, and he would ask his daughter, Eva, to hand it over to him. (Applause.)

Miss Eva Schofield R.R.C., matron of a casualty clearing station in France, who was home on leave, and left for the Front again on Thursday, then stepped forward and said: I have much pleasure in handing the gift over to you, and I wish you the very best of luck. (Applause.)

Private Cook, in a neat speech, thanked them for the beautiful present which he would always treasure for it would remind him of the happy days he had spent in Morpeth. They had always been very kind to him.

He remarked that it was rather serious work out in France, but they would do their bit when they went out there.

He expressed his regret at the great loss that church has sustained by the death of their organist, Mr Wright, in France. If at any time they wanted someone to preside at the organ he would be only too glad, as long as he was in the North, to come and give his services. (Applause.)


The monthly meeting of the Morpeth Board of Guardians was held on Wednesday.

Mr Craigs, chairman of the Contracts Committee, stated that they had considered the tenders for the next four weeks, and they recommended the following — W.A. Gray for groceries, F. Stoker for butcher meat, and W. Duncan for bread and flour. The committee recommended that Mr Carmichael’s tender for milk be accepted for twelve months, his price being 1/6 a gallon.

Mr Craigs said he had been looking through the contracts and comparing prices, and in many things that matters he had no hesitation in saying that there was quite 100 per cent. rise on pre-war prices. The Chairman remarked that he noticed a paragraph in the newspapers the other day stating that prices had risen 102 per cent.

The tenders were accepted, and the Chairman said the committee deserved the thanks of the Board for the way in which they carried out their duties month after month.

A letter was received from the overseers of Woodhorn Demense with reference to Mr C. Muter, rate collector the parish. They stated that he had gone on military service. His salary was £10 a year, and they recommended that he be paid at the rate of £6 5s 2d while away. The recommendation was adopted.


The Morpeth Company have now got into their new quarters, the Drill Hall in Copper Chare, which should serve as an inspiration to the members in view of the association of the building.

The men are now equipped with rifles, bayonets, and belts, and on Tuesday evening they marched to Cottingwood, where instruction in the use of the bayonet and rifle was given by two instructors from the Cheshires. Last Sunday there was a good muster of the men.

It may be of interest to give details of the Race Week camp at the Musketry Camp, Whitley Bay, from Saturday, June 23, to July 1. The camp will be a standing camp. It will assemble at 6pm, June 23, and break at 6pm, Sunday, July 1.

It will be available for those who can attend under any of the following conditions:— (a) the whole period, (b) one or more days, (c) four or more successive afternoons or evenings, (d) on all of the following mornings — 24, 27, 28 June, and 1 July. It is open to members of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th Battalions. Men from Class A, B, C, and D may attend, preference being given to the first three classes.

Special syllabus of training will be drawn up for the infantry engineers, motor, and artillery companies. The courses will be in series of four and members will be expected to complete the whole series. For those able to attend the whole period, a special course of a progressive nature will be arranged. Members of all units who have not yet passed an efficiency test will be given an opportunity of doing so.

Travelling warrants will be provided and rations will be issued free. All members will provide themselves with knife, fork and spoon, and all members intending to sleep in camp will provide themselves with blankets and small kit.

Any members of the local company who wish to attend the camp for the whole period or one or more days should send in their names at once to Lieut. Wm. Duncan.


A meeting in support of the above movement was held in the Board Room of the Guardians at Morpeth on Wednesday, Lieut-Col. Orde, Commissioner, presided.

At the outset the Commissioner said he would like to say a few words about the Boy Scout movement, its aims and organisation, and after that he hoped they would proceed to form a local association.

The movement, he said, was originated by Sir Robert Baden Powell, who was known as the Chief Scout. It was one of those movements which would make a greater name in the future then now. It was a national movement founded to form the character of the future manhood of this country, and it was all the more important just now on account of the war — a war which was taking away the best of our manhood.

The method of training in the Boy Scouts showed that there was no better method for forming of character and making of good citizens, and as a matter of fact, good soldiers. It had always been emphasised that the Scout movement was not a military movement, but one which aimed at making a boy useful to his country. It also taught honour and obedience, and so there was a certain amount of drill, but it was not intended to drill them as soldiers.

The Scout motto was “Be Prepared,”. Before a boy became a Scout he was first a tenderfoot. He had to make a three-fold promise — to do his duty to his King and country, to help other people on all occasions, and to obey Scout law. After the statutory time on probation, which was a month, he had to pass an examination, and know, among other things, the Scout signs and Scout law, then he was admitted as a Scout and got his uniform.

There were ten articles in connection with Scout law — (1) Honour, (2) Loyalty, (3) Usefulness, (4) A friend of everybody, (5) Scout must be courteous, (6) Must be a friend of animals, (7) Obedience and discipline, (8) Cheerfulness, (9) Thriftiness, and (10) Must be clean in word and deed. Therefore they would see that those who obeyed the Scout law were likely to become as good citizens as it was possible to make them.

Canon Davies moved that an association to be known as the Morpeth District Association be formed. The Rev. Jos. Miller seconded the resolution, which was unanimously carried. It was unanimously decided that Col. Cookson, of Meldon, be elected president.


Lady Ridley, who at present is taking a very active interest in connection with the Government’s scheme for the utilisation of female labour in the greater production of food, and who has a number of girls in training on the Blagdon and Wideopen farms, visited Blyth last week in connection with a meeting of the Blyth National Service Committee.

Her ladyship, who is warden for the Blyth District under the Northumberland Guild of Agricultural Helpers in furtherance of the Women’s Land Workers’ Movement, gave an interesting report of having visited local farmers with a view of obtaining their co-operation in the employment of women on the land.

Everywhere she had been received in the most cordial manner, and local farmers had promised to give the scheme all the assistant that lay in their power. She remarked that they were quite willing to undertake the training of suitable girls, the chief difficulty being a lack of lodging accommodation. It was, however, felt that if lady volunteers came forward there would be provision made for them on the outskirts of the town and in sufficient proximity to the farms.

Mrs Fellows, hon. secretary of the Selection and Allocation Committee of the Northumberland Guild of Agriculture Helpers (Women), and Mill Walley, travelling inspector for the Food Production Department (women’s branch) of the Board of Agriculture, also gave some interesting information about the scheme, and stated that farmers, not only locally, but all over the country, were clamouring for women workers.


In aid of the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle, on Saturday, June 30th, 1917.

The Royal Field Artillery Band, Newcastle (by permission of Col. J.A. Burrowes) will play selections of music in Carlisle Park at 3 to 5 o’clock.

There will also be children’s sports; dancing on the green; a guide’s race for Boy Scouts; a guide’s race for the boys of the Boys’ Brigade. His Worship the Mayor will give a silver medal to the winners.

In the evening there will be a meeting in the Market Place at 6.30pm, when the Band will play selections of music, and a number of artistes will sing patriotic songs.

Speakers: The Lord Mayor Of Newcastle, The Sheriff Of Newcastle; G. Renwick, Esq. Chairman: His Worship The Mayor.

A Military Medal will be presented to Sergt. J.B. Dodds, 4th Northumberland Fusiliers; and also the Medaille Militaire (the French decoration), will be presented to Sergt. John Thomson, 4th Northumberland Fusiliers.

A presentation will also be made on behalf of the Morpeth War Heroes Fund.