In this feature to commemorate the First World War, we will bring you the news as it happened in 1916, 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, 17th December 2016, 14:08 pm
Updated Wednesday, 14th December 2016, 09:54 am
HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, December 15, 1916.

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

The Mayor produced a German club studded at the head with nails — a battlefield relic — sent by Lieut. W.S. Sanderson.

HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, December 15, 1916.

As it was being passed round for the inspection of the members, a member jocularly asked “What is this for?”

“To settle all disputes!” was the reply of the Mayor, amid much laughter. “Now let us all work in harmony.”

The Mayor read the following letter, which accompanied the gift:— “Dear Mr Mayor,— I herewith send to you a relic of the battlefield. I also thought that if it were hung in a handy place near the Mayor’s chair in the Council Chamber it might assist both yourself and the future holders of the office to keep order. What do you think? If I could only send more it might strengthen your actions against the police. (Laughter.) Hoping all my colleagues on the Council are keeping well.— W.S. Sanderson.”

It was recommended that the application of Mrs T.D. Shaw and the quartermaster of the Cheshire Yeomanry for use of Town Hall on the 12th and 25th December, respectively, be granted on the scale fees.— Adopted.

HERALD WAR REPORT: Advert from the Morpeth Herald, December 15, 1916.

It was reported by the committee that the War Pensions Committee had applied to be freed from payment in respect to their use of the Town Hall ante room for their meetings. The War Savings Committee and the Northumberland Appeal Tribunal also applied for the free use of room for their meetings.

The committee recommended that when not required by the Council or otherwise let, the room be allowed free for meetings of these, and any other movements directly concerned with the war.— Agreed to.

The committee intimated that the death had been reported of Mr J.R. Turner, the assistant overseer for the parish of Morpeth and that his son, Mr R.B. Turner, who had acted efficiently as his deputy during his illness was an applicant for the post, and was serving in the Army.

The committee recommended that Mr R.B. Turner be appointed to the post on the same terms as his late father, and be allowed to employ a deputy satisfactory to the overseers to do the work during his absence on military duties.

The Town Clerk reported having received a claim for a sheep killed by rifle fire over Mitford Steads, which he has passed on to the military.

Mr Grey moved that the local Press be requested to publish for the information of the public that maximum prices have been fixed by Government for foodstuffs, and that tradesmen charging any more are liable to a penalty.

He said that a lot of grocers were charging a good deal more than the prices fixed by the Food Commission. He understood that several grocers were charging 7d. and even 8d. per lb. for sugar. The London prices were lower than could be charged in this district. No person should pay more than 5d. per lb. for brown sugar, 6d. per lb. for best granulated sugar, and 6½d. per lb. for castor sugar or lump sugar.

Any person who was charged more, he said, should communicate with the food controller at London.


The above society continues to do useful work. There is a membership of 80. Mr Shell, the energetic secretary, continues the work of canvassing and collecting.

A writer in the parish magazine referring to this work, states:— “If some say things are so dear, I would reply, ‘Put your heads together and put the brains in steep, and earnestly enquire whether there are not some directions in which savings may be effected, e.g. coal saving. If it has not yet been done, why not place fire bricks at the back of the grate and fuel savers in front and secure an equal, if not a greater, heat with less coal?

“Again, why not go an hour earlier to bed, and pull the fire to pieces before going?

“Then keep a sharp look-out upon the teapot and pipe, and if not abstainers keep a sharp look-out upon the beer, wine and spirit consumption.

“When our slow-moving Government, which seems so fearful of hurting our feelings, are making it criminal to eat white bread after January 1st, 1917, we may be sure there is need for us to think and act. The old saying was, ‘Take care of the pence.’ We shall do well to take care of the farthings.”


The Morpeth Volunteers are still going strong. Each parade brings further recruits until the total now reaches 173. In spite of this excellent progress, however, there are undoubtedly still many men in Morpeth who could join the Volunteers.

That the Volunteers should be strong could not possibly be doubted in face of the statements made when the Volunteer Bill was introduced into the House of Lords a fortnight ago, and of the speeches of Viscount French and Lieut.-General Bethune at their recent inspection of the Northumberland Volunteers at Newcastle.

The Volunteer Corps provides a most excellent opportunity for those who are unable to give more active service to do something to help on the war to successful conclusion. We would, therefore, urge all those who possibly can do so to join the Volunteers immediately.

There is no reason why the Morpeth company should not stand at least at 300 strong, and to reach that number is the aim of those in command. Any men wishing to join should present themselves at the Council Schools any Tuesday or Thursday evening, when they can be sworn in.

At the parade on Tuesday evening Acting Commander Wm. Duncan read a letter from Lieut.-General Bethune in which he expressed his appreciation of the Northumberland men on the occasion of his recent visit to the North. The company had further drill in the use of the rifle.

At the parade last night rifle drill was also practiced, and instruction in bombing and hand grenades was given to part of the company. It will be seen from this that those who have already joined the Morpeth company are progressing most satisfactorily.

A meeting is to be held in the Institute Hall, Pegswood, on Monday evening at 7.30, for the purpose of establishing a detachment for Pegswood, Longhirst, and Bothal.

Mr Thos. Hutchinson is to preside, and it is expected that the meeting will be addressed by Captain Moncrieff, Aldermen Duncan and Norman of Morpeth, and others. It is hoped that the Pegswood men will come forward and join in large numbers.

Meetings are also to be held during the course of the coming week at Rothbury and Harbottle for the purpose of also establishing detachments for these districts, which are to form part of the Morpeth company.


The ladies of Ponteland, who have worked so zealously since the outbreak of the war for the benefit of our fighting forces, held a “Pound Sale” at the soldiers’ canteen on behalf of the sailors, Mrs F.W. Langton being in charge of the arrangements. The sale was a success, the sum of over £13 being realised.

At the same time a bazaar was held by some young ladies to purchase a spinal chair to present to some hospital for the benefit of wounded soldiers. The organising of the bazaar was carried out by Misses J. Ralph, D. Jameson, P. Laird, J. Brown, I. Ralph, H. Brown, P. Ralph, and M. Potts, and a sum of over £16 was obtained.

Mrs Leather, of Prestwick Lodge, Ponteland, declared both sales over, the Vicar (the Rev. F.W. Langton) presiding.


A meeting of the Northumberland Presbytery was held in the vestry of St George’s Presbyterian Church, Morpeth, on Tuesday. The Moderator (Rev. P.J. Green) presided.

An appeal from the Y.M.C.A. was before the members asking them to release ministers in rotation for four months’ service with the Y.M.C.A. at the front.

The Presbytery gave the appeal sympathetic consideration with a view to laying it before the ministers to see what could be done.


Amongst the gallant lads who have gone from Bedlington to take their places in the fighting line is Lieut. R.H. Wharrier, an old Morpeth Grammar School lad, who has been awarded the Military Cross for gallantry, which has given great gratification to all who know the gallant lad and the esteemed family he spring from.

It was at once decided by the managers of the Bedlington Colliery Elementary Schools, where young Wharrier served his apprenticeship in the teaching profession, and where he taught for some time as a pupil teacher, to mark the occasion by giving the scholars a holiday, as they felt that not only was it an honour to the young man himself, but a reflected honour on the school. A holiday was accordingly taken.

Not much detail is to hand as to the circumstances under which the Military Cross was gained, but it is gleamed that between November 5th — which Lieut. Wharrier will have cause to remember as being the Guy Fawkes Day of his life — and November 9th, he, with a number of his men, held tenaciously an important point against considerable odds and against crack German regiments, including the Prussian Guards, and though the rest of the officers had fallen, the position was successfully held, until the objective was gained, when Lieut. Wharrier led the remainder of his men safely out.

His good fortune was announced to him shortly afterwards by a telegram on the field from the Commanding Officer.

For a number of years Lieut-Wharrier attended Morpeth Grammar School, where he obtained his First XI colours in football and cricket. At the outbreak of war he was studying at Bede College, but at once entered the Officers’ Training Corps and was afterwards given a commission in the D.L.A.

He is scarcely 21 years of age, and he spent his 20th birthday in the trenches. In April last year he was severely wounded and was incapacitated for some time, only returning to duty in the trenches a couple of months ago.


On Friday last the wounded soldiers at Linden Hall, together with many visitors, were entertained to a most enjoyable social and dance. All the prizes for whist playing were provided by Miss Adamson, sen., the Commandant of the hospital. Over a hundred were present at the gathering, half of whom sat down to whist whilst the remaining half indulged in dancing.

Before the presentation of whist prizes it was announced that that day was the birthday anniversary of Miss E. Adamson, and on behalf of the soldier patients, Sergt. Mason presented the quartermaster with a beautiful silver-mounted photo-frame, adding that he hoped Miss Adamson would live to see many many more returns of that day and that in years to come, on looking upon the small token of their respect, would recall the days of the present crisis — though not the crisis itself but the patients who, to their great happiness, had been under her charge.

He also trusted that on the next anniversary this terrible war would be ended and a lasting and victorious peace would reign over civilisation. (Cheers.)

Miss Adamson in response, thanked the men with all her heart and said she required no reminder to recall those happy days referred to — she felt happy amongst them, and was pleased to do all in her power for their well-being and pleasure. (Loud applause.)

Dancing and a vocal programme followed, at which dance and song were taken alternately. Songs were given by Sergt. Mason (bass), Private Toyne (tenor), Corporal Dent (baritone), and Mr J. Brown (tenor) of Felton. The accompaniments for songs and choruses were played most efficiently by Mrs A.H. Wardle, whilst the dance music was supplied by a local violinist, with Mrs Hall at the piano. The vocalists were well received, and their respective efforts highly applauded.

The merry throng did not disperse till nearly morning after a delightful social.


The committee have to thank Mrs Wm. Challoner, Northbourne Avenue, for a most successful tea, which realised £2 15s 9d. The sewing meeting will not be held until further notice.

They have also to thank Mrs Geo. Charlton, sen., for a gift of wool; Mrs Bennett, Tenter Terrace, for child’s crochet coat, the sale of which realised 8/-; Mrs Halls, socks and 2.6; Miss Jane Paton, 3 pairs of socks.

The following letter has been received from Lieut. W.S. Sanderson:— Dear Miss Arkless,— Please convey my best thanks to the ladies of your sewing meeting for the very generous bale of beautiful socks. My lads were over the moon with their Morpeth Christmas gift. I notice some of them in their letters home are telling their mothers what grand socks they have had sent from Morpeth. And you had packed them so thoroughly that they were as dry as bone when they arrived.

The oil cloth has made me such a swanky tablecloth, as well as doing the job it was intended for. Again thanking you all for your handsome gift.— I remain, yours respectfully, W.S. Sanderson.


Mr William Simpson, local press correspondent for the above committee, sends us the following:— The Morpeth Branch of the National War Savings Committee meet in the Mission Hall, Manchester Street, every Tuesday evening from 6 to 7pm.

Since the formation of the Association the committee are pleased to state that good work has already been accomplished, and many War Savings Certificates have been purchased.

Much more work might have been done if the general public and public bodies had taken more interest in its formation, as at present we are severely handicapped for lack of workers.

We would, therefore, appeal to all who are willing and anxious to do their bit for King and County to come forward and volunteer their services and assist in this grand and noble work.

The Committee feels confident that if we procure more assistants and get the ladies of the town interested in this scheme, we would more than treble the amount of savings we have already received.

It therefore behoves everyone of us, during the present crisis, to save every penny we can do without and so help our country by coming forward and joining the War Savings Association.

Think of the benefits derived and the safe deposit. Within one year from the date of issue a certificate can be cashed for its cost price of 15/6, and at the end of 12 months for 15/9. Thereafter its cash values increase by one penny per month.

No income tax is deducted from or charged upon the interest earned by these certificates, nor does the interest have to be included in income tax returns.

Every 15/6 saved and put into War Savings buys 124 cartridges to provide our brave lads at the Front with ammunition, so it is up to you and I to economise and keep our lads well supplied, if we mean to win the war and crush Prussianism.


Sir,— May I again ask for your kind aid in inserting this appeal to everyone in Northumberland to aid us financially in the responsible work which has been thrown on our hands, as I think that few will be aware of the money which will be necessary to send out three parcels each fortnight to the 450 Northumberland Fusiliers prisoners at present under our care.

It is estimated that the cost of carrying out the work will not be less than £10,000 per annum, and with the only too probable addition to our list of prisoners, and the steady rise in provisions, this estimate may be constantly increased.

From letters received by adopters which have been forwarding parcels in the past, it appears only too true that our unfortunate prisoners have, practically, to reply upon the food sent out to them to keep body and soul together, and I feel quite sure that if this fact is recognised, the generosity of the county will aid us to their utmost in providing a more constant supply of comforts to our men.

It has struck me that there may be many who, while unable to provide what they consider a sufficient contribution to forward to the hon. treasurer, would be willing to pay small sums to local collectors in their neighbourhoods, who would act as agents for the district and forward such collections from time to time to our treasurer.

I would feel grateful to any ladies and gentlemen who would undertake such work for us, and organise a scheme of collections throughout the county, and I would ask those who would undertake this work for me to write offering their services, addressing their letters to me, c/o J.H. Armstrong Esq., 31 Mosley Street, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

With every confidence that the support of all will be readily given to so sympathetic an object.— Yours, etc.,


Bywell Hall, Stocksfield-on-Tyne,

7th December, 1916.


A matter which needs to be ventilated when the lighting restrictions are so stringent is the practice that many people have of standing on the footpaths at night time.

One would imagine that the dangers accruing from darkened thoroughfares were sufficient without thoughtless people adding to their number by obstructing paths. As frequently happens, the passersby, who have to feel their way at night, suffer most from this objectionable habit.

We notice that the Ashington Council have had the matter under consideration, and have decided to issue warning notices requesting the public not to stand on the footpaths at night when it is dark. It is hoped that the warning will be observed and that the interference of the police will not be necessary to put a stop to a practice which is all too prevalent.


The Y.M.C.A. continues to be greatly used by the soldiers resident in the town. On Wednesday evening a grand concert was given by a number of local ladies and soldiers. The whole of the artistes acquitted themselves well, and a most enjoyable evening was spent by the men. The lecture hall was filled to overflowing.

In his opening remarks, Mr J.R. Mitchell (chairman) said he had always taken a great interest in the work of the Y.M.C.A. amongst the soldiers, for at one time he was closely connected with the Y.M.C.A. He had been speaking to an officer two or three days previous, and he (the officer) remarked that it was very pleasing to see the great interest Morpeth people were taking in the soldiers.

This was quite true, and it was only right that they should, for they had their cosy firesides and arm chairs, which the soldiers had not.

Great credit was due to Mr and Mrs Cowling, who had been responsible for organising numerous entertainments for the soldiers.

The programme was opened with selections by the Misses and Master Rudd, encored; followed with a song by Private Norris, encored; duet, Private Horny and Corporal Raines (encored); comic song, Signaller J. Elliott (encored); song, Miss Storey (encored); instrumental trio, Misses and Master Rudd; song, Corporal Raines (encored); comic song, Signaller J. Elliott; “The Rosary,” Misses and Master Rudd; violin solo, Master Rudd; song, Private Hayward; song, Miss Storey; song, Private Morris; song, Private Hornby; song, Private Sandbach; and the programme was brought to a close with the singing of the National Anthem.

Miss Rudd, Private Cook, and Signaller H. Elliott ably presided at the piano during the evening.

On the motion of Mr Mitchell, a hearty vote of thanks was accorded to the artistes and Mr and Mrs Cowling, which was carried unanimously.

At the conclusion the soldiers were entertained to supper by Mrs Cowling.


At a meeting of the Executive Committee of the Northumberland Miners’ Association at Burt Hall, Newcastle, on Monday, Mr W. Weir presiding, it was decided to ask the members to confine their forthcoming holiday to two days — Christmas Day and New Year’s Day — these being the only holidays at this season of the year provided for under the rules.

It was also agreed to point out to the branches the necessity for men working every day that the pits were open.


RICHARDSON.— Killed in action on Nov. 14th, 1916, Private Matt. Richardson, aged 25 years, the dearly beloved husband of Georgina Richardson (nee Nevens), of No. 1 First Single Row, North Seaton Colliery.— (Deeply mourned by his loving wife, and all who knew him.)

STODDART.— Previously reported missing, now reported killed in action, July 1st, 1916, aged 22 years, Private Albert Stoddart, second son of William and Annie Stoddart, 3 Gordon Terrace, Bedlington.

TAYLOR.— Killed in action, Nov. 13th, 1916, aged 27 years, Leading Seaman George Taylor, the dearly beloved husband of Mary Taylor, of North Seaton Colliery.— (Ever remembered by his wife and two children.)

ROBSON.— Killed in action, Nov. 17th, 1916, Private A.E. Robson.— (Ever remembered by his loving sweetheart, Elizabeth Johnston.)

TURNBULL.— Killed in action, Nov. 13th, 1916, aged 19 years and 7 months, Acting Petty Officer G. Turnbull, the beloved son of Mr and Mrs Gilbert Turnbull, of 13 Fourth Row, Ashington Colliery.— (Deeply mourned by his sorrowing father (in France), mother, brothers and sisters.)