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.

Saturday, 14th January 2017, 11:10 am
HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, January 12, 1917.

Sister Eva O. Schofield has been awarded “the decoration of the Royal Red Cross in recognition of valuable services with the armies in the field.”

Miss Schofield, who is the eldest daughter of Mr F.E. Schofield, Morpeth, was educated at Rutherford College, Newcastle. She received her training as a nurse at the Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh, and on its completion registered as one of Queen Alexandra’s reserve nurses. She was for two years nurse at the Cottage Hospital, Castle Douglas.

HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, January 12, 1917.

When war was imminent, she volunteered for foreign service, and went to France with the first detachment of sisters from Edinburgh Royal Infirmary in the first week of August, 1914, and has been on active service ever since.


The advent of the tank in warfare came as a surprise to most of us — and to the enemy too — and the official pictures of these monsters of metal will be seen at the Playhouse at an early date.

Patrons should note that the Market house now opens at 6.30, commencing at 7, and onwards till 10.45.

HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, January 12, 1917.


On Friday, December 29th, by the invitation of the Mitford Orchestra, the patients from the Morpeth Red Cross Hospital were entertained in Mitford School. A concert was given by the orchestra, which was followed by an excellent tea.

Later on Canon MacLeod gave a lantern lecture on “A tour in the West Highlands.” He was fortunate enough to find amongst the guests an expert lanternist, who most kindly worked the lantern for him.

At the close of the proceedings a hearty vote of thanks was proposed to the performers, and especially to all those who had so efficiently made all the arrangements for the tea.


The Rev. Dan Wrigley, vicar of Hartburn, has received a cablegram from Mesopotamia informing him that his son, Lieutenant Willoughby Thornton Wrigley, of the Wilts Regiment, had been thrown from his horse, resulting in a broken wrist, and that he was in hospital in Busra.

Lieut. Wrigley was gazetted in September, 1914, from the Oxford University Officers’ Training Corps, and the regiment proceeded to Gallipoli at the end of June, 1915. He served there to the close of the season, assisting in both evacuations.


The monthly meeting of the Morpeth Town Council was held on Tuesday night. The Mayor (Councillor J.R. Temple) presided.

The committee reported that the Town Clerk had read a circular letter from the Metropolitan Borough of Wandsworth recommending a resolution in favour of the Government adhering to the resolution for the vigorous prosecution of the war. The committee recommended that a similar resolution be passed by that Council.— This was unanimously carried.

The Town Clerk received the following letter from the Chief Constable (Captain Fullarton James): “In reply to your letter I should be glad that the tradespeople of Morpeth enjoyed equal advantages with their neighbours. I cannot find, however, that whatever may have been the rule in the adjoining city, there is any authority to a Chief Officer of Police to add to or subtract from the Home Secretary’s Order. I am further led to believe that the city advantages referred to have now been withdrawn.”

Ald. Norman remarked that other Councils were busily engaged with the question of providing allotments to increase the food-stuffs. That Council was in the happy position of having taken time by the forelock. They had always encouraged the small gardens system. He did not think there was another Council that had more small gardens.

It was as well to let the public know they had done a lot in that way, and that they were in sympathy with the very object that many Councils had taken up for the first time. It would be interesting if they could get the number of gardens belonging to the Corporation.

The Surveyor said he would get the numbers for next meeting, and added that there were one or two applying now for gardens.


Wednesday, January 17th, will be “Jam Day,” when we hope that all kind friends who can spare some jam or marmalade will be kind enough to send some, with their names and addressed, to the above hospital for the use of the sick and wounded soldiers.

The Commandant wishes to acknowledge with thanks the following gifts:— Cakes, Mrs J. Simpson and Miss Laverick; books, Mrs R. Swinney; flowers and leeks, Mrs Coble; eggs, Mrs Pringle, Tritlington.

As the result of the charity football match played on December 26th, 1916, between the Cheshire Yeomanry and Morpeth Detachment 2/1st Northumberland Volunteer Regiment, £10 4s 1d has been given to the V.A.D. Hospital, Morpeth.

The committee desire to thank all those who gave their help and support, and acknowledge the receipt of the following amounts:— Mr G. Renwick, £1; Mr F. Straker, 10/-; Captain Mitford, 10/-; Ald. G.B. Bainbridge, 5/-; Lieut. Col. Orde, 2/6; the Mayor (Councillor J.R. Temple), 2/6; Mr C.R. Greene, 2/6; Mr F. Brumell, 2/6; Mr A. Burn, 2/-; Mr T. Hopper, 2/-; Mr J. Smail, the football.

The expenses incurred were voluntarily paid by the officials of the Morpeth Volunteer Detachment. Mr T.H. Cooper acted as secretary.


As the result of the concert held recently in the Playhouse, Morpeth, in aid of the Y.M.C.A. Hut Fund, a cheque for £41 9s 8d has been forwarded to the hon. treasurer, Mr F. Wise, Newcastle.


The opening meeting for this year was held yesterday, and was largely attended. Tea was kindly given by Mrs Jas. Swinney, King’s Avenue, and realised £1 12s.

The hon. treasurer, Mrs Atkinson, acknowledges with many thanks the following donations:— Miss Craggs, £2 15s; Mrs Burt, per the Mayoress of Morpeth, 10/-; the girls of the Council Schools, 10/- and a parcel of socks, cigarettes, and stationery; Mrs Jobling, Howard Castle, 5/-; socks from the Misses Anderson (North Lynch) and Mrs Halls; Miss Harbottle, muffler; Miss Kate Hopper, shirts.

Grateful letters of thanks for bales have been received from Miss Weston, Royal Naval Rest, Portsmouth, for the Northumbrian sailors; Sir John B. Riddell, for the 11th and 12th Northumberland Fusiliers; and letters and cards from many soldiers at the Front to whom shirts and socks have been sent individually.


The progress which has been made by the Morpeth Company of the Northumberland Volunteer Regiment has been so far of a very satisfactory character.

On the part of the majority of the men great interest is evinced in the drills, which is amply demonstrated by their regular attendance — a fact which goes a long way towards making the task of those in command much lighter.

A few of the members have now joined the Regular Army greatly benefited by the training received during the past few months.

It is expected that the strength of the company will be fully maintained by the enrolment of men between the ages of 41 and 50. It is up to these men, over military age, to take advantage of the movement and thereby equip themselves for any emergency that may arise.

Much activity is being displayed at headquarters in connection with the movement generally, and we understand that by next week the officers and non-commissioned officers of the local company will be made known. The company has now been reformed, there being three platoons instead of four, with the usual complement of officers.

Last Sunday morning proved ideal for a route march, and the men, under Mr Wm. Duncan, acting orderly officer, greatly enjoyed the two hours’ march. A halt was made on the way, and platoon drill was gone through.

On Tuesday night there was 93 men on parade, and at last night’s drill there was again a good muster.

The usual parade will take place on Sunday morning first at the Council Schools, when it is hoped that there will be a large turn-out.


Sergeant Charles Robson, Porch House, Bedlington, has been killed in action.

Corporal Elliott, West Yorkshire Regiment (late of Alnwick and Broomhill), is reported to have been wounded in action.

Private R.W. Rice, 24 Lamb Street, East Cramlington, has been reported killed in action. He has been missing since July 1st.

Fred Milne, 11 Hollymount Avenue, Bedlington, has died of wounds received in action.

After having been missing since July 1st, Private James Spencer Sutton, 3 Bowsden Terrace, South Gosforth, is reported killed in action on that date.

Official news has been received by Mr and Mrs Merryweather of 1 Double Row, Dudley Colliery, that their son, Able Seaman W. Merryweather, R.N.D., was killed in action on November 13th.

Private Ralph Liddell, reported missing since July 1st, is now reported to have been killed in action. He was a son of Mrs Margaret Liddell, formerly of Beadnell, whose husband and three sons were drowned in Blyth while fishing on March 18th, 1914.

News has been received by Mrs Ramsay, Blyth’s Yard, Alnwick, that her son, Private Thomas Ramsay, of the Durham Light Infantry, was killed in action on December 12th, and that he was buried in a little churchyard near where he fell.

Mr and Mrs Winlow, of Choppington, have received official news from the War Office that their son, Robert, of the R.H.C. (Canadians), has been missing, believed killed, since 1st December.

Mrs J. March, 28 Maple Street, South Moor, has received official news from the War Office that her husband, Private J. March, who has been missing since July 1st, is now reported killed on that date.

Miss Gooderham, sister of Second-Lieut Briggs Gooderham, who was killed in action on the 13th December, when in charge of a machine gun, has received a letter from the commanding officer stating:— ”Second Lieut Briggs Gooderham was killed instantaneously by the bursting of a big shell. The body was recovered and buried next day with due military honours.” His captain also wrote:— “We all appreciated his splendid qualities. He was beloved by the men. We deeply mourn his loss, and feel that he cannot be replaced. We all join in sending you our deepest sympathy, His soldier servant was killed with him.” Miss Gooderham has also received a Royal message expressing the sympathy of the King and Queen. The deceased officer was a nephew of the late Rev. A. Gooderham, a vicar of Eglingham.


DUNN.— 169 Chestnut Street, Hirst, reported missing, now reported killed in action on July 1st, 1916, aged 33 years, Lance-Corpl. W.A. Dunn, the beloved husband of Ellen Dunn (nee Ray.)— (Deeply mourned by his loving wife and five children, relatives and friends.)

HALL.— Killed in action in France, Dec. 16th, 1916, William John Hall, the beloved husband of Ellen H. (Nellie) Hall, of Bedlington.

MILLNE.— Died of wounds received in action in France, on December 17th, 1916, aged 31 years, Fred, the dearly beloved husband of Isabella Millne, 11 Hollymount Avenue, Bedlington.

WHITE.— Killed in action in France, November 18th, 1916, Private Geo. Swindle, beloved son of Mary and W.R. White, Laurel Cottage, Stead Lane, Bedlington.— (Deeply mourned by his father and mother, and three brothers.)


A large number of districts have now got their Welcome Home Fund or War Memorial Fund, all worthy schemes, and it shows the fine patriotic spirit that animates all classes who wish to do honour to the brave men and lads.

At the Cramlington Council on Monday a communication was read from the Prudhoe Council asking if steps had yet been taken to form a Welcome Home Fund. If so, they were of the opinion that uniformity was essential so as to make all alike, the idea being that every urban council should take a lead in the matter.

One member gave expression to the opinion — an opinion which is gaining ground now that the war has reached such a magnitude — that all efforts should be directed to raise funds to look after the widows and dependents of those who have fallen on the field of battle.

When the brave lads come home nothing, after all, will give them greater pleasure than to know that those who have been bereft of their breadwinners are being well cared for.

Another worthy way to show appreciation would be to see that those who have been disabled permanently receive a good reward, and their lives made as happy as possible under the circumstances.


If a record has been kept of the numerous concerts, whist drives, dances, and social evenings held in the Soldiers’ Institute since it was opened, the social which was given by Mr Thomas Swinney, Woodside, Morpeth, on Tuesday, will range amongst the most enjoyable.

Mr Swinney and family have always taken an active interest in looking after the soldiers stationed in Morpeth and district, but his previous efforts were eclipsed by the spread he placed before his khaki guests on Tuesday evening.

The chair was occupied by Councillor R.N. Swinney, who, in his opening remarks hoped that all present had healthy appetites as Mr T. Swinney had liberally provided, and nothing had to be taken back.

This intimation was received with prolonged applause.

The first part of the programme was brought to an end with “Garden of Roses,” which was beautifully rendered by Corporal Raines.

At this stage Councillor Swinney took the opportunity of announcing that the men had an extension until ten o’clock, which information was received with loud applause by them.

After the acclamation had somewhat subsided Signaller Ackerley proposed a vote of thanks. He said: It gives me great pleasure to be here tonight, but still greater pleasure to move a vote of thanks, first of all to Mr Thomas Swinney, whose hospitality we are partaking of, and to whom we are extremely grateful.

Next to the ladies, who have done a great deal for soldiers at the Institute since it was opened, and who are still continuing to do good work.

Then the chairman, Councillor Swinney, who is always ready to help, as those of us know, especially those who were present at the “White Elephant” sale.

Last, but not least, the artistes, who have acquitted themselves so well.

During my stay in Morpeth I have found out that the inhabitants are always ready to help and entertain the soldiers, as this Institute shows, which is a lasting memorial of what they did for those far from home.

The motion was heartily carried by the men.


A most enjoyable time was spent by the khaki boys at the Y.M.C.A., Morpeth, on Thursday evening last week, when a packed hall was entertained by their comrades, assisted by two or three local artistes.

The chair was taken by Mr E. Cowling, the secretary of the Y.M.C.A., who expressed his pleasure at seeing a large number taking advantage of the comforts there.

During the evening Private Cook and Private Heap ably acted as accompanists. Through the kindness of Mr and Mrs Cowling supper was handed round, and while the concert proceeded cigarettes were provided by Mr Ed. Swinney.


A successful whist drive and dance took place in the schoolroom, Whalton, in aid of the Church Army Huts Fund. There were tables to accommodate 100, which were all occupied.

Mr Thomas Eustace Smith, Manor House, put up for auction a dressed doll, given by Mrs Nicholson, Whalton Glebe, which was sold for 30/- to go towards the above fund. The supper was given by the ladies in the village and district. A sum of £21 was realised.


The President of the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries is receiving a very large number of offers of assistance in connection with his schemes for increased food production.

The carrying out of the schemes will be entrusted to War Agricultural Committees in each county, and Mr Prothero suggests, therefore, that all persons who desire to offer their services should communicate with the secretary of the local War Agricultural Committee at the offices of the County Council.


A circular regarding the rearing of pigs, poultry, rabbits, etc., has been issued by Lord Rhondda, and Mr R.E. Prothero, President of the Board of Agriculture. The circular is as follows:—

The increase of pigs in this county is the quickest possible way of adding to our meat supplies. If people would, either individually or in combination, undertake the keeping of pigs in the present crisis, the stock of pigs in this county could be, within a few months, greatly increased.

Quantities of valuable pig food are wasted every day in our towns and villages. If arrangements could be made for collecting the waste from butchers, poulterers, fishmongers, fruiterers, greengrocers, and dairies and from the hostels and boarding houses, as well as from dwelling houses, this daily loss would not only be prevented but turned into the gain of valuable meat.

It is important, wherever practicable, to allow pig-keeping in the neighbourhood of towns and villages to save the cost of transport of material. The question arises how far this would be hampered by restrictions contained in the by-laws of local authorities.

In many rural districts there are no by-laws on the subject at all. In others the by-laws only require that the places where pigs are kept shall be clean and wholesome. In most urban districts, however, and in a few rural districts, a by-law is in force which provides that pigs shall not be kept within a prescribed distance of dwelling houses.

A Regulation is about to be made giving power to sanitary authorities to grant permissions for the keeping of pigs, either generally or in particular cases, nothwithstanding the provisions of such by-laws, subject to the observance of any directions of the authority in the interests of public health. If persons intending to keep pigs live in places where such by-laws are in force, they should inform the local authority with a view to obtaining their permission.

It will be necessary for keepers of pigs to obey such conditions as to clean and wholesome maintenance as the local authority may impose.

We intend to bring this matter to the notice of the sanitary authorities, and to suggest that, subject to any advice given to them by their medical officer of health on grounds of public health, a Council should not hesitate to consent to waive its by-laws in suitable cases, or, where circumstances permit, to give a general dispensation under the powers conferred by the new Regulation.

We shall also suggest that the Councils should do what they can to facilitate co-operative efforts for the collection of waste and for the keeping of pigs.

Householders unable to undertake the keeping of pigs may do admirable service by keeping poultry or tame rabbits in order to add to the nation’s food. They may also assist by setting aside edible house refuse to be collected for the feeding of the stock of other people.