April 21, 2015

Northumberland history. War memorial - Falstone (North Tyne)

By Geoffrey Dagg, Donald Clegg and Clive Dalton

1914-18 and 1939-45 war memorial
Today’s small village of Falstone at the top of the North Tyne valley and at the foot of the Kielder dam, was a much larger and busier place before the 1914-18 war than it is today.

Photos of the local school  before 1914 show over 50 pupils, and these numbers of young folk would grow up to work on local farms and estates, go into domestic service and work in the local coal mines, quarries and maintaining the roads in their part of the valley.

The Forestry Commission was not fully in business till much later with the first trees being planted on Smale in1926.

So when the call went out in 1914 for young men to fight for King and Country, there would be no shortage of volunteers from the Falstone Parish to join what promised to be a great and short-lived adventure, and be ‘home by Christmas’!

Sadly 28 volunteers left and did not return, and after making the ultimate sacrifice were buried in foreign soil rather than in their quiet Border valley.

Nine young men gave their lives in the 1939-45 conflict, and they may have been conscripts.

1914-1918 fallen
These would probably all volunteers

Archibald Bell
John Dodd
James Armstrong Elliot
Richard E Harrison
Christopher Inglis
William Little
Matthew Robson
Walter E Sisterson
Thomas Welsh

William Armstrong
George Davidson
Christopher Elliott
Thomas Forster
George Hymers
James Jobling
Roger Robson Potts
John James Rome
David Steele
James Wylie

Frank Armstrong
John Darcy
Walter Dodd
Robert Newton Familton
James Hymers
David Jackson
William Moscrop
David Rolfe
Frank Steele

1939-45 fallen
It's not clear who of these were conscripts and who were volunteers.

Andrew Fletcher
Hector Inglis
Alex Philip Weir
John Lambert Bird

Thomas George Grimwood
Edward Fiddler
James Telfer Cowan
Raymond Terry

Stone masons who made the memorial. 
Beattie and Company of Carlisle

Request for information - The authors would greatly appreciate any information on the lives of these brave men before they went to war.

April 7, 2015

Northumberland history. Bellingham (North Tyne) – the Gingall gun

By Clive Dalton and Donald Clegg
Spring daffodils around the Bellingham Gingall gun
Generations of Bellingham folk must have looked at the old gun on its plinth, protected by iron railings near the Town Hall.  It never meant much to us locals, and certainly we were never told about it in any history lessons we got at school, especially at the Reed's school which I (CD) attended and was just around the corner from the gun.

The original timber of the gun always in dark red paint rotted away (in the 1970s ?), and was replaced with great skill by local volunteers. So it still keeps its place in local history, and now thanks to Wikipedia, we can find out  the  story that few locals were aware of, and as far as anybody knew, had not involved any Bellingham folk like those in the other wars.

The plaque on the gun 
The plaque says the that the gun was presented to the people of Bellingham by Commander (later Admiral) Sir Edward Charlton.  Why he thought Bellingham deserved such a gift would be nice to know.  The N.W. Fort Taku China was involved in the Boxer rebellion when the British invaded China to extend the empire, and presumably he served there on the HMS Orlando, although this is not mentioned in the Wikipedia report.

What is a Gingall gun?
From Wikipedia:
A jingal or gingall, (Hindi janjal) is a type of gun, usually a light piece mounted on a swivel; it sometimes takes the form of a heavy musket fired from a rest. Frequently a form of wall gun either by design or use. The weapon was used by the Chinese and Indians in the 19th century, such as by the Taiping armies. 

Who was Sir Edward Charlton (1865-1937)?
Wikipedia gives a full profile of him and his career in the Royal Navy. The fact that he was born in Newcastle may indicate some Northumbrian links with the wider Charlton family of Hesleyside Hall. This is speculation as no Wikipedia details are provided. 

He served in the Anglo Egyptian war and WW1 and retired from the Royal Navy in 1924.  There is no mention of him serving in the Boxer rebellion - and how he managed to claim the gun.

What was HMS Orlando?
 From Wikipedia

HMS Orlando was the lead ship of the Orlando-class of first-class cruisers built in the yards of Palmers Shipbuilding and Iron Company, on the Tyne at Jarrow and launched on 3 August 1886.

In 1899 she was assigned to the China Station, Captain James Henry Thomas Burke in command. During the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, sailors from HMS Orlando formed part of the force led by Vice-Admiral Sir Edward Seymour attempting to relieve the British Legation in Beijing.

The Gingall gun where is has stood outside the Town Hall guarding the Black Bull for over 100 years.  It has also guarded the Rose and Crown too (below)!

The authors would welcome any more information about the gun or Admiral Charlton's link with Bellingham.

April 6, 2015

Northumberland history. Bellingham (North Tyne) war memorials

By Donald Clegg and Clive Dalton

The Boer War
Wikipedia provides a full history of the first Anglo Boer or Transvaal war from Dec 1880 to March 1881, and the second Anglo Boer war was from October 1889 to May 1902.  The plaque on the memorial to the Bellingham men states that they lost their lives in 1900, 1901 and 1902.

The Boer war memorial in Manchester Square

The memorial was originally positioned in the middle of the road at the intersection of the Otterburn and Reedsmouth roads, and opposite Lloyd’s bank and Dobbin’s shop where it acted as a roundabout for the limited amount of village vehicle traffic up to the 1950s.  

 It had a water fountain and had metal railings around it for protection. It also has a metal door, presumably to service the plumbing.
Then for it’s own safety and that of motorists, especially the turning buses and stock wagons going to the marts, it was removed to a safer place for all concerned in Manchester square behind the town hall.

 It would be interesting to know who made the memorial - especially who carved the soldier and the wreath around the top. The light was not part of the original design but clearly serves a valuable purpose. 

Fortunately the names of the 33 who died were carved on marble so have not deteriorated in the weather, as the names of the dead from later wars have which were carved in local sandstone.

 It is interesting to see the names on a smaller plaque. Perhaps they were added later, possibly for those who died as a result of injuries sustained in the war. It's also interesting to see that the men were divided into yeomanry who presumably were regular army, and volunteers who joined to go to this war.

The Great War 1914-1918

The lych gate into the Bellingham cemetery built for the 1914-1918 war dead.
It was built by Anthony (Anty) Charlton.
This war was deemed to be ‘the war to end all wars’ and took 32 young men from the Bellingham area to their foreign graves, and in this centenary of their deaths (2015), it’s especially fitting to remember who they were, as by now, there must be few who will remember them in person, and who would even remember hearing about their exploits.  Fortunately 33 others returned to carry on their lives.

1914-1918 eroded names on wall

Sadly their names carved on the wall of the stone lych gate of the Bellingham cemetery have weathered badly, and some are now very hard and even impossible to read. 

This is a tragedy for those who died and for their relatives.

The mistake was to use local sandstone as it absorbs moisture unlike marble, and expansion and contraction due to frost disintegrates its structure. 

But this should not allow the memory of their sacrifice to fade away. Their names need urgent attention and preservation.  Who has the responsibility for this?

As with all WWI memorials, it is shocking to see the high number of young men (many presumably from the same family) who left the valley’s farms, coal pits, quarries and shops for what looked like a short adventure, and to be ‘home by Christmas’ which was highlighted in the misguided propaganda to get them to volunteer.

Their names on the cemetery lych gate need to be recorded again in some more weatherproof form for all to see in future.  They also need to be recorded in some public archive or museum database, so they are not forgotten and can be accessed for further research by families in years to come as access to genealogy data via the Internet develops.  Otherwise all this valuable local history recording the shocking waste of young Bellingham mens’ lives will be lost forever.

Poor state of names on wall damaged by weather (frost) and mould
 You can see from the photograph how eroded some names are, so here’s a list from what could be deciphered.  Details of the people would be welcome to the authors.  

 Men who served and did not return - now resting in some far off field
J Stanley Allen
G Armstrong
W Armstrong
E Armstrong
A Bowes
J R Clapperton
J Daley
Paxton Dodd
J Brown
J Fletcher
W Foreman
W Fox
R Glendinning
J Grieve
R Hedley
E Johnson
T Lauderdale
M Martinson
D McKie
T Robson
J Rae
A Rutherford
W Ninian Robson
T Storey
R Storey
J G Southern
T Spencer
Jos Turnbull
J P Waugh
T Wright
Basil White
J H Temple 

On a separate list: The fortunate ones who served and survived
This was a very nice gesture, and is not found on many other war memorials.  
R Allen
J Aggas
J Anderson
J Armstrong
J R Armstrong
Robt Armstrong
M Armstrong
? Armstrong
? Armstrong
A Andison
G Bell
R Brown
R Burn (Probably RJ Burn who was a farrier in the war and was the local blacksmith)
R E Charlton
W H Charlton
Leo Charlton
F H Charlton
W P Collier ( ? He became the famed local photographer)
G T Colling ( ? Geordie Colling who was the key man in the Council roading)
J R Colling
A N Colling
J Coulson  ( ? The local saddler)
R Cowan
G Dagg  ( ? Geordie Dagg - a village character)
G Dagg
E Daley
P Daley
A Davidson ( ? Alec Davidson)
J A Davidson
Ewan Davidson
J Dodd
? Drummond
? Dixon

The WWI ‘Dead Man's Penny’
After the Great War of 1914-1918, when so many thousands of young men were slaughtered mainly in the trenches of France and Belgium, the British government saw fit to thank their parents for their sons' sacrifice by sending every one of them, (up to an estimated 1, 335, 000) a memorial plaque or medallion. These were about 4 inches in diameter and inscribed with the soldier's name and the words – ‘They Died for Freedom'.

Many families regarded the plaque as an insult to their son's sacrifice and returned it in disgust or threw it away. The plaque came in a presentation box and with a scroll signed by King George V. More information can be found on Google under 'Dead Penny'.  They were called a penny as they were cast from similar metal to the currency penny.

Don Clegg's Uncle Ernest - killed in battle in 1916 aged 20.
Below is the 'Dead Man's Penny' his mother received to record his sacrifice.


World War II 1939-1945
Thankfully fewer Bellingham men gave their lives in the second world war, but their loss is no less tragic to their families.  Plenty of Bellingham's now older residents will still remember them  - and also remember the grief that their families suffered when that fateful telegram on yellow paper arrived from the War Office.

We are not sure if these men were called up for active service or were volunteers. It's more likely that they were called up.

This plaque is in good repair after 70 years and seems to be of different stone to the sandstone used for the 1914-18 names, and will hopefully remain in this state.

 N T (Tommy) Batey - died of wounds at Dunkirk.  The youngest of the Batey's four sons who were stone masons and builders for three generations in Bellingham.

A T (Tony)  Chilman - posted missing after the fall of Singapore to the Japanese.  He was the son of the Lloyd's bank manager.  The only information given to the family was that he was killed in action.

J A (Jamie) Jamieson - killed in France aged 19.  Lived at Tarset.

S T (Thompson) Wait - killed in action aged 18.

J C (Jack) Mason:  Jack worked for the Bellingham butcher Stanley Telfer.   Jack  was in the Parachute regiment and had been killed a few days after D Day (possibly at Arnham). He left a widow and four daughters and would have been in his 30s.

F R (Fred) Warwick - captain in a tank regiment and killed in Italy. Fred's father was a tailor in Bellingham.

Not on the list.
?  Jim Bell  who served in the RAF.  His parents lived in King Street in Bellingham. 

 Please send the authors and information on the early lives of these brave men.

February 8, 2015

Making a wooden handled shepherd's stick.

 Making a wooden handled shepherd's stick.

 By Clive Dalton

When I started as a ‘shepherd laddie’ on Anglo/Scottish Border farms in the 1950s, (thankfully on the English side), the first thing I needed was a decent stick to ‘look’ sheep on the heather and ‘bent’ (tussock) fells.  The stick was used like the NZ musterer’s stick, but with a crook for the handle.

You couldn’t buy a stick, and unless a shepherd took pity on you and made you one, you had to make your own.  This wasn’t easy, as the experts who won competitions at local shows for their horn and wood-headed crooks, were loathe to divulge their secrets. 

Border Shepherd's Stick Dressing Association 
But things have changed, and viewing the ‘Border Shepherd’s Stick Dressing Association’ website 
< http://www.bsda.eu>, shows how, with Prince Charles as the Association’s senior patron.   ‘Stick dressing’ is now a popular art and craft, involving a wide range of enthusiasts who may only see a sheep on their country rambles.

New Zealand stick dressers
For enthusiastic Kiwi stick makers, there’s a competition at the Waimate North show with five classes, and special encouragement for local school students to take part.  Jacki Hastings from Dargaville (09) 439-8141 is the person to contact for more information.  This initiative needs every encouragement and support by entering a stick.

Rams horns are hard to find in New Zealand as the Drysdale has disappeared, and the Wiltshire Horn is also a rare breed.  If you find a ram’s horn with plenty of curl, see my blog (www.woolshed1.blogspot.com) to see how to make a crook.

 Woods used
It’s better to use a burr of chestnut, elm or walnut, where the twisted grain provides strength, as straight-grained wood will split along the grain if dropped on a hard surface.

Hazel makes the best shanks as it’s fibrous and strong, and bends long before it breaks.  It’s also light weight, which is ideal on a long hike.

A good shepherd’s crook supports you going up hills and down gullies, and helps you negotiate crags and bogs, as well as acting as a third leg to take weight off tired legs and back when you stop.   Here you stand with both hands on the crook resting on your sternum, leaning forward with the stick end about two feet in front of you.

Dog trial stick
Note: A stick for dog trials in New Zealand has to have a maximum length of 1 metre.

Handle gap
The crook handle must also fit over your wrist, as you never lay your stick down; it’s your constant companion.  Fit a bit of pipe on the end as a ferrule to stop wear and splitting, letting some wood protrude to grip on smooth surfaces.  
 Materials and method

1. Band saw to rough shape and grind corners off. Chestnut burr.

2. Bore a hole in the head (50mm deep) to take the shank spigot.  Then bore a hole for a nail to go in the spigot to add strength to the joint.

3. Make a tourniquet to keep pressure on the joint when gluing

4. Protects the bark around joint with tape when rasping. 
Use edge of broken glass to smooth wood before sanding.

5. Use sealer, varnish, wax polish, and plenty of use will give a good hard finish.

February 5, 2015

Shepherd's Crook. How to make a horn-headed crook

Making a horn headed shepherd's crook

By Dr Clive Dalton

The bigger and more solid the horn, the more material you have to work with and hence the better the end result.  See the Border Shepherd's Stick Dressing Association website .  British sheep breeds with heavy horns like the Scottish Blackface or Swaledale are ideal, with other breeds like the Merino in Australia and New Zealand are lighter and not so good.  Some Wiltshire horn rams have good horns and so did the Drysdale in New Zealand before it's coarse wool went out of fashion.

 Plain horn head
Here are some basic instructions to make a 'plain horn' stick which would be used for generally walking around the farm, or taking with you to the sale - sometimes called a 'sale stick'.

The horn as cut from the ram’s head. Note the bone core which is part of the skull and which falls out on boiling.  You can't use that bit

Only use the solid end of the horn which comes from an old ram, best over two years old and has a second curl in the horn.  A single curl will be all core bone.

Decide which is going to be the neck of the horn handle. Start rounding it into shape.

Keep removing horn to develop the round shape.
 Boil the horn for about 4-5 minutes, then hold in the vice to bend the end twist out. Hold in position until it cools and is stable.

Hold the horn firmly in the vice to bore the hole for the shank spigot. Make sure the brace is perpendicular.

A hole of 60mm deep is ideal.

 Cut the spigot on the shank to fit the hole.

Bore a hole to insert a nail right down the length of the spigot and into the shank. This is to strengthen the joint with the horn.
2Cut the nail off and smear with plenty of a good two-pot glue.

 Check the join between horn and shank has no gaps.

Use cramps to keep pressure on the join till the glue dries. Let the glue dry for at least 24 hours. Check the joint is good and the glue is hard.

Use tape to protect the bark before trimming more off the horn with rasps or glass.
Protect the bark when holding it in the vice.
Thin the horn to weaken the corner so it bends easily after boiling for 4-5 minutes.  Keep shaping the head to remove excess horn.  Horn is easier to cut when it's warm.


 Put a tourniquet on the horn to prevent it opening up when bending it in to get a nice shape.  It should fit over a wrist when finished.  
Boil the very end only to soften it and bend it in the vice so it's in line with the shank.Pull it in by twisting the torniquet.  Let it cool right down before removing.  If it is not in line with the shank, twist it in the vice till cold

 Use a full range of sandpaper grits to finish the head.  If you find rasp marks at this stage, remove them with a bit of glass and re-sandpaper.
Shape the end of the head to put a name or decoration on it.
Put a tourniquet on the end again to stop it going back to it's natural bend, and let it cool before removing the tourniquet.  It must be in line with the shank.

Hang the stick up by the end to varnish.  Fit a ferule on the end to stop it wearing when used on hard ground.  A bit of copper water pipe is ideal but make sure some wool protrudes below the ferrule to get a grip on hard ground.

Further reading
See the website for the Border Shepherds Stick Dressing Association