Watching the mouth of the Tyne, 1914

Watching the mouth of the Tyne, 1914

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Watching the mouth of the Tyne, 1914

This picture is a reminder of the limits of technology in 1914. In later wars aircraft or radar would watch the coasts, but in 1914 the mouth of the Tyne was at least partly guarded by a soldier with a telescope..

Now You Know: Why Do People Always Look So Serious in Old Photos?

The first photographs were taken in the late 1820s, and the new medium developed throughout the rest of the century as a practical tool, artistic form and social activity. But, even though there were a few smiles to be found in the early years of photography, it took until the 1920s and 󈧢s for smiles to start becoming the standard expression in photographs.

So why was that the case, and what changed?

One possibility is dental. Some dismiss the idea that bad teeth could have been a possible cause for early photography’s close-lipped images, since that was a common condition and wouldn’t have necessarily been noteworthy at the time. But Angus Trumble, the director of the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra, Australia, and author of A Brief History of the Smile, disagrees. He points to the professionalization of dental health as one factor leading to the rise of smiles, arguing that just because bad teeth were normal didn’t mean they were desirable. “People had lousy teeth, if they had teeth at all, which militated against opening your mouth in social settings,” he says.

Another common explanation for the lack of smiles in 19th century photographs is that, because it took so long to capture a photograph back then, people in pictures couldn’t hold a smile for long enough. “Some of that is true,” says Todd Gustavson, technology curator at the George Eastman Museum. “If you look at the early processes where you did have a long exposure time, you’re going to pick a pose that’s comfortable.” But he says that technology has been overplayed as the limiting factor. By the 1850s and 󈨀s it was possible in the right conditions to take photographs with only a few seconds of exposure time, and in the decades that followed shorter exposures became even more widely available. That means the technology needed to capture fleeting expressions like a genuine smile was available long before such a look became common.

Christina Kotchemidova, a professor studying culture and communication who wrote an article on the history of smiles in snapshot photography, also questions the technology argument. That idea, she says, comes from our world, in which it seems “natural to smile for a picture” and people have to be told not to. But, she says, while smiling in general may be innate, smiling in front of a camera is not an instinctive response.

Experts say that the deeper reason for the lack of smiles early on is that photography took guidance from pre-existing customs in painting&mdashan art form in which many found grins uncouth and inappropriate for portraiture. Though saints might be depicted with faint smiles, wider smiles were “associated with madness, lewdness, loudness, drunkenness, all sorts of states of being that were not particularly decorous,” says Trumble. Accordingly, high-end studio photographers would create an elegant setting and direct the subject how to behave, producing the staid expressions which are so familiar in 19th century photographs. The images they created were formal and befitted the expense of paying to have a portrait made, especially when that portrait might be the only image of someone.

But even from the beginning, a less experienced photographer might break the norms that were being established, suggests Gustavson. Some early photographs of smiles show the importance of context in determining the expression on the subject’s face. A photograph of two officers in the Mexican-American war in 1847 shows one smiling, and an image of poker players from 1853 also has one smiling man and one focused on his cards. An African-American man with his hands up as though boxing was preserved with a smile in 1860. These are still performative portraits, but they’re not quite like the formal painted portraits of the upper classes. As the types of people who took photographs and sat for portraits expanded, that in turn widened the range of acceptable expressions for portraits.

So it makes sense that what perhaps changed those formal expressions most was the rise of snapshot photography, which further democratized the medium.

“Take the camera out of the professional and put it into the hands of the snapshot photographer and then they can do whatever they want” says Gustavson. With George Eastman’s 1888 Kodak camera, the chemical processing of the film was done for you and the camera came with an instruction manual. By including a section on what made a good picture, Eastman was “guiding cultural norms as to what photography was going to be,” Gustavson adds. The 1900 Brownie camera took it even further. At an affordable $1 each, it was marketed as a child’s camera, though plenty of adults used them too.

The norms of spontaneous, amateur photography began to bleed into more formal photography, says Trumble, as people developed new expectations about how they wanted to be seen. As the century wore on, photography and painting began to interact, each trying to take advantage of the other medium’s benefits. Painters would try to emulate the clarity and spontaneity of photos, and photographers would attempt to evoke the artistry of fine painting. That went for smiles too, Trumble says, as “people begin to smile in effervescent ways” in painted portraits during in the Edwardian period, about 1895-1914, after the same change took place in photography.

By World War II, the shift in photographic norms was pretty much complete.

A study of high school yearbook photos in the U.S. taken from 1905 to 2005 told a similar story of the changing default expression. The researchers averaged images of men and women by decade, and though it was a specific sample, they found that average lip curvature increased over time and also that women led the way to toothy grins, on average smiling more than men did in any given decade.

Kotchemidova argues that it was no coincidence that the broad grin was an American phenomenon, and that advertising played a key role in its spread. The Kodak catchphrase “you press the button, we do the rest” was part of a shift from threatening ads to a more positive strategy and “Kodak was one of the pioneers,” she says. The new method focused on consumer happiness with the product and portrayed consumers using the camera during happy moments. These commercial cues that smiling was what you should do in a photograph were particularly effective at influencing people, bypassing the need to explain why someone should be beaming at the camera. People internalized the messages, Kotchemidova believes, and imitated the examples in front of them.

That is perhaps the most important lesson of the study of historical smiles: whether or not people are smiling in photographs has very little to do with how happy they are.

People in the 1800s weren’t unhappy all the time. Both Queen Victoria and Abraham Lincoln, for example, were noted for their humor though they certainly had things to worry about, photographs of Lincoln sometimes have a hint of upturned corners of the mouth and there’s even a photograph of the Queen smiling outright.

“People in human history have smiled, laughed, and behaved more or less as they do today, in other words naturally and spontaneously, in the private sphere,” says Trumble. “What is radically different is public performance and public presentation.”

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Song of the Sea

Through history, Littlehaven or Herd Bank as it was called, has been a place for watching and waiting for guiding and rescuing mariners arriving or leaving the North Sea at the mouth of the River Tyne. It has a remarkable sense of place, and this has been creatively expressed throughout it's history, by the poets and songwriters.

We looked for ways to embed a sea shanty or folk ballad into the fabric of the landscape, and develop visual props to those words. We set about searching for the right song, that connected to the historical context and was also a song that spoke of the sea and the land, with a sense of waiting or longing. After trawling through hundreds of songs online and with the help of different museums and in particular the English Folk Song and Dance Library in Regents Park, London, we arrived at a song that worked perfectly for the space.

The chosen ‘song of the sea’ text, was an old Northumbrian song ‘Blow the wind southerly’. This song speaks of watching for the safe return of the Collier sailing ships. The song has been blasted into the length of the new seawall allowing people to read the verses along the length of the promenade.


In early times medical care on the battlefield was practically non-existent. If one was unfortunate enough to be seriously wounded, the best one could hope for was a speedy despatch from the scavengers who swarmed on to the battlefield to loot the corpses of the fallen. A person of high birth might expect slightly better treatment - a live body to ransom was worth more than a dead one.

During the nineteenth century war became more devastating due to technological advances in armaments, and educated people began to concern themselves with the provision of humanitarian aid to casualties. The Red Cross was formed in 1863 following the Battle of Solferino, and the first Geneva Convention on the treatment of battlefield casualties was signed a year later.

In Britain, the British National Society for Aid to the Sick and Wounded in War was formed in 1870, and operated under the Red Cross emblem during the Franco-Prussian War and several other conflicts towards the end of the 19th century. In 1905 it became the British Red Cross Society.

In 1909 the British Red Cross Society was given the role of providing supplementary aid to the Territorial Forces Medical Service in the event of war. In order to provide trained personnel for this task, county branches of the British Red Cross Society organised units called Voluntary Aid Detachments. All Voluntary Aid Detachment members, who came to be known simply as "V.A.D.'s" were trained in First Aid and Nursing. Within twelve months they numbered well over 6000.

Following the outbreak of war in 1914 the number of Detachments increased dramatically. The British Red Cross Society and the Order of St John of Jerusalem, a body which was also empowered to raise detachments under the War Office Voluntary Aid Scheme, combined to form the Joint War Committee in order to administer their wartime relief work with the greatest possible efficiency and economy, under the protection of the Red Cross emblem and name.

V.A.D.'s, who initially were mostly middle-class women eager to "do their bit," performed a variety of duties. At home the organisation administered auxiliary hospitals and convalescent homes and much of the V.A.D. service consisted of general nursing duties and administering first aid. Qualified nurses were also employed to work in these establishments. In addition, clerical and kitchen duties were performed by V.A.D.'s, and as many men were engaged in military service, female V.A.D.'s took on roles such as ambulance drivers, civil defence workers and welfare officers.

The first V.A.D. hospital to be opened in the north east appears to have been at West Hartlepool, where a V.A.D. detachment formed by Dr H.W.M. Strover had been registered at the War Office as early as June 29th 1911. On the outbreak of war it was determined that there was insufficient hospital accommodation for the large garrison in the town. At the instigation of Lt-Colonel Robson, the Garrison Commander, a V.A.D. hospital with 25 beds was created in the Masonic Hall on August 9th 1914, and the first patients were admitted 2 days later. Dr Henry Strover was the Medical Officer and his wife Margaret was the Commandant.

Margaret Strover ARRCCommandant, West Hartlepool VAD Hospital 1914-16 and 1918-19 (see ref. 1)

During the bombardment of Hartlepool by the German Navy on 16th December 1914 conditions in the hospital were described as being like a casualty clearing station near the front line, and the building itself was struck by a shell. Eventually the building became too small for the purpose, and the hospital was relocated in June 1915 to Normanhurst, a large house on the outskirts of the town, loaned by Sir William Cresswell Gray.

Dr Henry Strover and the Nursing staff at Normanhurst, West Hartlepool (see ref. 1)

Many other V.A.D. Hospitals were located in similar large houses which had been loaned for the purpose by their owners. For example, Howick Hall in Northumberland was loaned by Albert, 4th Earl Grey, and his daughter Sybil served there as a nurse.

Sybil Grey in V.A.D. uniform at Howick Hall (photograph courtesy of Mrs J Smillie)

Some of them were located in previously existing hospitals - for example Hebburn Hall, the former home of the Ellison family, which had been converted into an infirmary for the town in 1896. On Teesside the Ropner Convalescent Home at Middleton St. George, endowed in 1897 by Robert and Mary Anne Ropner (of the Stockton shipbuilding family), was pressed into service as the 24th Durham V.A. Hospital. The Richard Murray Hospital in Blackhill and Ashington Infirmary also fall into this category. In these instances it seems likely that the V.A.D. operation was in addition to the normal hospital facilities. Things did not always run smoothly in 1916 a dispute arose between the War Office and the Matron of the Richard Murray Hospital in Blackhill. This resulted in the immediate closure of the hospital. It remained closed until 1919, much to the annoyance of the local population, who had seen it open in 1914 only to be immediately commandeered by the military.

In Hexham the pre-existing convalescent home in Hextol Terrace became the 3rd Northumberland V.A.D. hospital, with an annexe in nearby Cotfield House. The Commandant here was Marjorie Henderson, whose father, Charles Henderson, owned Hexham racecourse. On 21st November 1915 the Hexham Courant reported the arrival in Hexham of a batch of wounded soldiers "for the first time in living history, though it is possible wounded might have arrived in Hexham during Wellington's Netherlands campaign." The party comprised English, French and Belgian soldiers, who were convalescing after treatment at Armstrong College, Newcastle, itself commandeered for the duration of the war as the Northern General War Hospital. This unusual event would have become all too familiar 12 months later after the carnage of the Somme.

Not all offers of premises were taken up Lady John Joicey-Cecil offered the use of Newton Hall, Stocksfield, as a convalescent home in August 1914 but this proposal does not appear to have been taken up. Nor was Hexham Rural Council's offer of the Lightwater Hospital in Hexham. (This had been built in anticipation of a smallpox epidemic but had not received any patients.)

Lizzie E. Greers(?) - Haggerston Castle (When lit obliquely the inscription appears to be Greers, and according to the British Nursing Journal a Sister Greer was transferred to service in Calais in January 1916)

V.A.D. hospitals received the sum of 3 shillings per day for each patient from the War Office, and were expected to raise additional funds themselves. This was not difficult in those patriotic times, and the local newspapers regularly carried lists of gifts received - anonymous donations did not seem to be the fashion! The accounts for the 14th Northumberland V.A.D. hospital at Holeyn Hall, Wylam makes interesting reading:-

Holeyn Hall annual accounts for 1916(from the Hexham Courant - 24th March 1917

During the year Holeyn Hall had treated 367 patients at an average cost of 3s. 9d. per day, so the War Office allowance accounted for only 80% of the cost. (A report on Ashburne Hospital in Sunderland indicated the costs there were similar at 3s. 6d per day.)

Holeyn Hall (Holeyn Hall, the private residence of Sir Charles Parsons, opened as a V.A.D. hospital on 5th November 1915, and during the conflict a total of 1234 convalescing patients passed through its doors.)

In all, 27 hospitals were set up in County Durham (although the numbering extends to 28 there does not appear to have been a no. 26) and 17 in Northumberland. The following tables give a full list, with the current (in 2007) status of the buildings in which they were housed 2 .

UnitLocationPresent Status
1st Durham VA HospitalWhinney House & Saltwell Towers, GatesheadWhinney House - Gateshead Academy for Torah Studies
Saltwell Towers - coffee shop and resource centre within Saltwell Park
2nd Durham VA HospitalSeamans Mission, Mill Dam, South ShieldsSeamans Mission
3rd Durham VA HospitalHammerton House, 4 Gray Road, SunderlandPrivate residences (building extensively modified)
4th Durham VA HospitalJeffrey Hall, Monk Street, MonkwearmouthDemolished
5th Durham VA Hospital17 North Bailey, DurhamPart of St Chad's College, University of Durham
6th Durham VA HospitalWoodside, Blackwell Lane, Darlington * Demolished in 1938
7th Durham VA HospitalBrancepeth CastlePrivate residence
8th Durham VA HospitalNormanhurst, Grange Road, West Hartlepool § Public House - the "White House"
9th Durham VA HospitalLong Room, Chilton MoorDemolished
10th Durham VA HospitalMayfield, Pine Street, JarrowDemolished during 1970's
11th Durham VA HospitalSocial Centre, SunderlandNow the Royalty Theatre, Sunderland
12th Durham VA HospitalRichard Murray Hospital, BlackhillDemolished
13th Durham VA HospitalVane House, DawdonDemolished
14th Durham VA HospitalMorton House, Fence HousesPrivate residence
15th Durham VA HospitalDrill Hall, Parklands, Castle EdenDemolished
16th Durham VA HospitalShotley House, The Terrace, Shotley BridgePrivate residence
17th Durham VA HospitalThe Red House, EtherleyDemolished
18th Durham VA HospitalHebburn Hall, HebburnPrivate apartments
19th Durham VA HospitalWindlestone Hall, RushyfordVacant (owned by Durham County Council)
20th Durham VA HospitalSt Gabriel's Institute, Kayll Road, SunderlandChurch Hall
21st Durham VA HospitalHerrington Hall, West Herrington, SunderlandDemolished during 1960's
22nd Durham VA HospitalMission House, Evesham Road, New SeahamDemolished
23rd Durham VA HospitalRiversdale, Ashville Avenue, Eaglescliffe † Private residence (now known as Riversdale Grange)
24th Durham VA HospitalRopner Convalescent Home, Middleton Lane, Middleton St. GeorgeClosed 1999 and converted into private apartments.
25th Durham VA HospitalAshburne, Ryhope Road, SunderlandIncorporated into Sunderland University Department of Arts and Design
27th Durham VA HospitalBenfieldside House, Benfieldside Road, Shotley BridgeDemolished circa 1960
28th Durham VA HospitalSeaham Hall, Seaham HarbourHotel

* This hospital was originally established in the Friends' Meeting House, Darlington.
§ This hospital was originally established in the Masonic Hall.
† This hospital was originally established at "Joanville", Eaglescliffe.

Adventures on the Great North Road

They call the M25 the “world’s largest car park,” and there are plenty of times it deserves the epithet. Landing at Heathrow and picking up a car, however, if you want to go north, that’s the way you go. I wanted to go north. So, I turned the black Peugeot to the motorway and headed for Watford. Midweek, midday, the traffic thins out as you pass the junction with the M40, peeling off northwest to Oxford.

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More specifically, I wanted to go north “the way you go” not in the early 21st century, but the way you went in the centuries between prehistory and the 20th century. On the motoring atlas today, the road doesn’t exist, but it lies all around and under the road known as the A1. I wanted to travel the Great North Road.

The longest numbered road in Britain is the A1, connecting London with the Scottish capital of Edinburgh. Originally designed and designated by the Ministry of Transport in 1921, the A1 was in effect the beginning of the modern British national road system. Over the decades its route has been revised and parts of the A1 upgraded to motorway status. The building of the M1, too, which follows much the same regional direction, has changed the A1 from being the way north to being one way north.

Aficionados of the A1 claim it as the closest thing the British have to a cult highway—sort of the equivalent of America’s Route 66. In fact, however, the A1 itself is a latecomer across the landscape. For centuries, long before the A1 bypassed villages and market squares, the way between London and Edinburgh was known simply as the Great North Road.

The only actual road building ever undertaken in Britain had been done by the Romans. After their legions withdrew from the island, the whole infrastructure of roads, urban centers, and country villas were left to wither away through the centuries. Celts, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, and Normans all still had to travel, though, however uncomfortable and cumbersome their progress across the countryside might be.

By the early Middle Ages, the Great North Road had evolved as the single unified route between London and North Britain. In part, it followed stretches of Roman Dere Street, in part, it followed the natural topography of the landscape and long-familiar routes between villages and market towns. For centuries, rough carts and springless wagons, horses, and shank’s mare took pilgrims and Crusaders, bishops and noblewomen, drifters, and highwaymen between London and the northern ecclesiastical and political center of York, or on to Durham or Scotland. Generations of adventuring Scots took the road south to seek life in more prosperous England—like James Boswell, who famously wrote of his road adventures with the inimitable Samuel Johnson.

Rusting mile markers line the way on the Great North Road.

By the time Boswell and Dr. Johnson traveled the Great North Road in the late 18th century, improvements were well underway on both the road and the means of travel upon it. It must have seemed a state-of-the-art luxury, indeed, to traverse roads that were somewhat graded and maintained by recently established local “turnpike trusts,” which often financed the work with user fees that were collected at toll booths. Sprung stagecoaches now plied the road on regular routes and fixed schedules—a considerable improvement over the plodding wagons of bygone years. Along the route of the Great North Road, the infrastructure of travel evolved, with inns and public houses growing up along the way as surely as fast-food franchises and lodging chains mark the popular paths of road travel today. Travel time from London to Edinburgh was cut from 12 days to four in the 18th century. What adventures would I find today, I wondered, during four days on the Great North Road?

You can follow the Great North Road out of London all the way from Smithfield in the City along Clerkenwell Road, up Highgate Hill, through Finchley and Barnett, but I opted to pick up the route at Potters Bar, where the old Great North Road crosses the M25.

It is not the A1 here that leads north on the old alignments of the Great North Road, but the A1000 meandering through what has become London’s nondescript northern suburbs to Hertfordshire and past the gates of Hatfield House—where Queen Elizabeth I spent part of her childhood.

If I was expecting many visual clues as to the route’s antiquity and historic significance in the Home Counties, though, I was soon proven mistaken. Where the road passed through pockets of relative affluence, there were building activities, smart petrol stations, Tesco and chain pubs. Where the road traversed pockets of relative neglect, the detritus left behind was the junk and jumble of the disposal-prone 20th century. As is unhappily so often the case these days, though, one has to go far from London to get deep into England.


My destination that first night on the road was Stamford. Exactly a day’s journey on the Great North Road from London by stagecoach, the town became prosperous during the coaching era as the East Midland’s transportation hub.

There are few places more deeply English than this market town on the southern edge of Lincolnshire—which modestly trumpets its reputation as one of the prettiest stone towns in England. I put up at the George Hotel, which has been an inn for 1,000 years. Word has had time to get around, and George has long been a hostelry of great renown. In crusading times, Knights of St. John of Jerusalem strolled in the garden in their black capes with white crosses. King Charles I was the first of a handful of royals to enjoy its hospitality Sir Walter Scott was a frequent guest.

In George’s heyday as a coaching inn, it handled 40 coaches a day, “twenty up and twenty down.” Walking into the hotel today, to the right is the York Bar, to the left the London Room, where passengers would assemble for their coaches in the dark-paneled waiting rooms. Modernization of the hotel in recent years has taken great care to preserve its hard-won historical features and ambiance.

Stamford itself is a quintessential market town, with a pedestrianized shopping precinct on High Street, a Broad Street for the weekly market, a local history museum, arts center and tourist information office, a medieval almshouse, ancient churches, pubs and eating options. Its weekly newspaper, the Stamford Mercury , claims to be England’s oldest (1695). Adjacent to the town is the estates of Burghley House, the grandest of the country’s Elizabethan stately homes (we visit Burghley House in January’s British Heritage ). Yes, Stamford would be a lovely place to take a day or two to visit.


Like countless travelers before, though, I reluctantly left the George the next day in the fog to turn again north. At Lincolnshire’s northern edge lies the market town of Grantham. The Victorian Guildhall stands behind the statue of Isaac Newton, the town’s most famous son. Its most famous daughter grew up over a corner grocery on Broad Street operated by her father. Margaret Thatcher can rightly claim to be the only British prime minister born and raised right on the Great North Road. Grantham too has its old coaching inn, the Angel and Royal. King Richard III was staying here in 1483 when he signed the warrant for the execution of Lord Buckingham.

Shortly north of Grantham, the Great North Road crosses through the western corner of Nottinghamshire. Though the A1 follows the general route of the Great North Road, I didn’t spend much time on the A1 itself. From London to Northumbria the A1 is a dual carriageway and heavily trafficked the miles on it go quickly and as nondescriptly as most highway travel.

For much of the route, however, the old road weaves east and west of the A1, often following what is now B-roads. By the time I reached my modern coaching inn in West Retford that evening, I had traveled the B197, B645, B1043, B1081, B1174, A6065, B1164, A6075 and A638. You do have to pay attention to navigation. British Heritage writer Tim Lynch drove down from Pilley, Yorkshire, to join me for dinner.

J ust a few miles from the market town of Retford, the oldest alignment of the Great North Road meanders through the little village of Scrooby and past the farmyard gates of Scrooby Manor. Exactly 400 years ago, the resident lord was William Brewster, master of the Queen’s Posts. The Separatist congregation that would later become known as the Pilgrims, already in trouble with the law, was meeting at Brewster’s manor house. The next year, the group would leave this pastoral countryside behind forever and make its successful clandestine escape to the Netherlands. The village pub at Scrooby is appropriately named The Pilgrim Fathers.


A BIT FARTHER on, at Bawtry, I detoured a mile or two to Austerfield, which also proudly announces itself on its village signs as “Birthplace of William Bradford, Pilgrim Father.” The village pub is The Mayflower. It struck me as somehow ironic that the Pilgrim congregation should be pilgrims from instead of pilgrims on the Great North Road.
Along much of the Great North Road, the tracks of Britain’s main East Coast rail line run in rough parallel. Driving along, I was often semi-startled by a sudden who-o-sh of GNER trains racing past—carrying passengers between London and Edinburgh (and points betwixt) in as many hours as it took days to travel the Road in stagecoach. Crawling through the suburbs and downtown industrial Doncaster reminded me that those rails carry freight as well.


Other rail and industrial centers lay ahead, Darlington and Newcastle. More often, however, that afternoon I jumped on and off the A1, weaving into many long bypassed villages that exuded English rural character, like Wentbridge, Wetherbury, and the ancient Roman town of Boroughbridge. Remarkably enough, though, the way is not particularly scenic, crossing Yorkshire with the famous Yorkshire Dales to the east and the North York Moors to the west.

There is no question if the Great North Road headed north, I was there, and the weather was socking in. The clouds hung dark gray and very low across the northern sky. A foggy mist enveloped the diminishing light as I drove through Darlington during its rush hour and on to the ancient cathedral city of Durham and a room at the Three Tuns coaching inn. That evening, I walked the quiet city center in the fog, the market place and precincts below majestic Durham Cathedral, and ate supper in the pub watching England play Andorra in the European Cup qualifying matches. England won, to the relief of all.

The damp, darkling weather continued the next day as I headed north again for Newcastle and Northumbria. By now, I might have expected to see signs announcing that I was on the Great South Road, but no, wherever the old route is identified, it is still the North Road. Most commonly, I entered towns on what was named the London Road and left them behind on a road named for the next market town ahead. I had also passed a lot of pubs in the past several days named the Coach and Horses.


A t Gateshead, the industrial southern suburb of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the road leads past Britain’s largest sculpture, the Angel of the North . Created by sculptor Antony Gormley in 1997, it is one of the most-viewed pieces of art in the world, seen by 33 million people a year. The angel is fabricated from 200 tons of weathering steel. It rises 65 feet and has a wingspan of 175 feet—almost the size of a jumbo jet. Beneath where it stands, coal miners worked the earth for 200 years.

Crossing the Tyne into Newcastle, I was right in the heart of England’s northernmost major industrial city. The skyline on both sides of the river down toward Tynemouth is pocked with remnants of the city’s shipbuilding industry. Coal from Newcastle traveled south by ship long before the railroad arrived. Inevitably, I got lost in the city center tangle trying to follow the original route of the Great North Road through congested city streets.

Above Newcastle, Northumbria spreads wide, wild and desolate. From Durham north, the village churches tend to be named for Celtic rather than Roman saints—St. Ninian, St. Hild, St. Cuthbert, and Bede.

The rain was constant as I parked to explore the stone market town of Morpeth, the county town of Northumberland. I escaped the weather with a visit to the bagpipe museum. The Highland bagpipes of Scotland may be the best-known variety of the instrument, but there are bagpipes from around the world in Morpeth, and the Northumbrian small pipes have played indigenous regional music for centuries.

Some 15 miles to the north, I left the still busy A1 aside to pass through Alnwick, in its own way the functioning capital of the county throughout the Middle Ages. Fishermen will know the town as headquarters of the House of Hardy, who has a company museum to the history of their famous rods and tackle. Book lovers flock to one of England’s largest second-hand bookstores, filling the old railroad station with its stacks. But Alnwick’s real claim to fame is Alnwick Castle, ancestral seat of the Percys, earls, and dukes of Northumberland since 1309.

Alnwick Castle, the family digs, is second only to Windsor as the largest inhabited castle in Britain.

The Great North Road enters Scotland at Berwick-upon-Tweed. Over the centuries, the border market town has changed national identity a number of times, now England, now Scotland and back again. There are old castle ruins and the town wall remains to be seen, but it’s not a particularly attractive town. I had thought to stay at the old coaching inn, but they wanted way too much for bed and breakfast. So, with several hours of misty gray light left, I turned east and detoured to follow the Tweed through Coldstream to the old border abbey town of Kelso. I put up at Kelso’s old coaching inn, the Cross Keys, on the broad, cobbled Market Square.

The next day, the BBC promised the weather would clear by midday, but it was still gray as I set out to regain the A1 and the last stretch of the Great North Road to Midlothian and on to Edinburgh. North of Berwick, the road often follows right along the North Sea coast before turning west along the Firth of Forth to the Scottish capital.

The Great North Road is a ghost road the specters of a millennium of history are often lost in the commuting traffic and lorries that jostle the A1 today. It’s not a particularly pretty drive. For a glimpse of scenic Britain, there are many more salubrious options—the Lake District, the Cotswolds, Dartmoor, or those Yorkshire Dales. As a travel experience in England and Scotland, however, the legendary route offers a remarkable cross-section of Britain’s past and present, just as it did to travelers heading north or south by stagecoach 200 years ago.

From Dunbar at the mouth of the firth, the old road is now swallowed by a succession of towns that used to be unique communities but now are commuting suburbs for the city—Haddington, Tranent, and Musselburgh, full of traffic and fish and chips shops. Imperceptibly the suburbs become the city of Edinburgh, where the Great North Road and the A1 end unceremoniously on the eastern end of Princes Street.

Watch a clip of Newcastle On Film - a brilliant new DVD from the North East Film Archive

There’s nowhere on earth quite like Newcastle and, just in time for Christmas, the North East Film Archive has released an astonishing new DVD called Newcastle On Film.

It presents the moving story of our city, and wider region, as captured on film over the last 100 years.

Presented and narrated by Tyne Tees news presenter Pam Royle, Newcastle On Film is a tribute to life in the great Geordie capital.

What is fascinating is that these are not feature films, they are simply films made by local people - professional and amateur filmmakers alike - who together with our regional television companies have created an extraordinary record of life in Tyneside over the decades: the people, places, major events and everyday working lives captured on film, and now revealed once again for everyone to see and enjoy.

We see the excitement of the Hoppings in the 1930s, the resilience of the people of Tyneside during the Second World War, and the sheer grit and graft of the region’s shipyard industry, culminating in the excitement of the much-anticipated launches.

Whether it’s nabbing a bargain at the Quayside market, or ice cream treats on days out in Whitley Bay, the thousands of competitors taking part in the Great North Run, or the highs – and lows – of Newcastle United, it’s all on Newcastle On Film.

All the film clips on the DVD have been carefully preserved, cared for, catalogued and digitised by the team at North East Film Archive which now holds collections of some 30,000 titles dating from the earliest days of filmmaking through to regional television collections, and increasing amounts of ‘born digital’ material.

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As a registered charity, the remit of the Archive is to find, preserve, and make accessible the moving image heritage of the North of England, and this Newcastle On Film DVD is another opportunity for it to share these films.

Sue Howard, Director of the North East and Yorkshire Film Archive, says: “What is fantastic about these collections is that whenever we give screenings or presentations, people immediately connect with the films, and that’s because they recognise the places they grew up in, went to work, the shops, the streets – and often the people captured on film – and before you know it, the stories start to flow. The people of Tyneside said to us ‘where can we get the DVD?’ – so in response to that, here it is, Newcastle On Film.”

And with the very familiar voice of Pam Royle, Tyne Tees News presenter narrating, there is a real Tyneside treat in store, starting 90 years ago with remarkable footage of the construction and opening of the world-famous Tyne Bridge.

Pam says: “Newcastle has been my workplace for most of my professional life - first at the famous old Tyne Tees studios in City Road, and more recently over the river at our high-tech news centre in Gateshead.

“Although Tyne Tees and BBC in the North East have been chronicling Tyneside on film since the 1950s, that’s not even half the story. The North East Film Archive has collected thousands of feet of film, from pioneering cinematographers at the turn of the 20th century, to local cine clubs, commercial filmmakers and talented amateurs who have all shared the same passion for recording life across the North East of England.

“This is the chance to see extraordinary footage of Newcastle in the early years of the last century and take in the sheer scale of its importance as an industrial powerhouse, or take a glimpse of Newcastle at play – with films capturing the Geordie capacity for enjoyment and fun.

“Marvel at the changing fashions across the decades, and even get a little nostalgic with some very familiar faces – there really is something for everyone. I’m delighted to have been part of this Newcastle On Film production - it’s such a great legacy of life in our regional capital.’’

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Newcastle On Film is priced at £12 (including postage and packing). The DVD has just gone on sale, and can be bought directly from the North East Film Archive website:

Or, from this Friday, December 7, you can pick up your copy at the following Newcastle outlets:

Tyneside Cinema Pop-Up Shop, 10 Pilgrim Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 6QG

City Library Shop, 1st Floor, 33 New Bridge Street West, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8AX

The Back Page, 56 St Andrews Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 5SF

All profits from the sale of the DVD go back into the work of the charity, so by popping a Newcastle On Film DVD in someone’s Christmas stocking, you are helping to support and save the film heritage of the North East of England.



Bede, The Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation, translator not clearly indicated (But it seems to be L.C. Jane's 1903 Temple Classics translation), introduction by Vida D. Scudder, (London: J.M. Dent New York E.P. Dutton, 1910)

Book V, prepared for the Internet Medieval Sourcebook by

Alexander Pyle, [email protected]
Colorado State University.

Page numbers have been removed for this etext: For citation purposes refer to the Book and Chapter of the History.

This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.
Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use.

© Paul Halsall, April 1999

The Internet Medieval Sourcebook is part of the Internet History Sourcebooks Project . The Internet History Sourcebooks Project is located at the History Department of Fordham University, New York. The Internet Medieval Sourcebook, and other medieval components of the project, are located at the Fordham University Center for Medieval Studies.The IHSP recognizes the contribution of Fordham University, the Fordham University History Department, and the Fordham Center for Medieval Studies in providing web space and server support for the project. The IHSP is a project independent of Fordham University. Although the IHSP seeks to follow all applicable copyright law, Fordham University is not the institutional owner, and is not liable as the result of any legal action.

© Site Concept and Design: Paul Halsall created 26 Jan 1996: latest revision 20 January 2021

Football on Tyneside 1914-1919

The history of the Football League during the Great War has been extensively covered by a number of authors. This account concerns itself with matters of local interest, in particular the measures taken to keep the game going, and the emergence of the "Munitionettes" teams set up by female workers in the munitions factories.

Throughout the early part of 1914 international tension steadily increased on the Continent of Europe. On 2nd August the territory of Belgium was violated by German forces as they drove through into France, and Britain, as a guarantor of Belgian neutrality, at once declared war on Germany. This was the signal for the gutter press (not a modern invention, as some may think), to whip up anti-German feelings within the British population. The Government itself contributed to the mood of national hysteria, by rounding up enemy aliens 1 , and posting armed guards at any site which might conceivably be the target of a German invasion 2 . The outcome was that the first casualties of British action in the Great War were a handful of harmless pork butchers, and a number of innocent British civilians who were too slow to respond to the challenge of frightened and trigger-happy sentries - long before the battle of Mons which marked the beginning of hostilities in the field. In Jarrow alone eleven German nationals, mostly pork butchers, were arrested on 7th August 1914 and placed in custody.

1. "Enemy Aliens" included British women with German husbands, such as 60 years old Elizabeth Schonewald of Sunderland, who had lived all her life in England, and whose husband had been dead for more than 10 years.

2. The coastal road between Roker and Whitburn was closed to the public early in the war and remained closed until 6th January 1919.

Once all these dangerous enemy aliens had been safely locked up, the press cast about for another target to attack, and its attention alighted upon football. Prejudice against professionalism in the sport was still lurking beneath the surface. It was considered unpatriotic for able-bodied men to be earning money playing football during a time of national emergency. C.E. Sutcliffe, a member of the FA Council, writing in the Newcastle "Daily Journal", attempted to inject a note of rationality into the debate, pointing out that there were no more than 7,000 professional footballers in the country, most of whom had wives and children dependent upon their earnings. He also drew attention to the fact that the King had expressed a desire that horse racing should continue 3 , and that the War Ministry had made no request for football to be suspended. In his view, what the nation wanted was the assurance "that football should not hold back any young man who wanted to enlist". To defuse the situation, clubs were encouraged to provide facilities at their grounds for the armed services, to recruit from amongst the spectators.

3. Horse Racing did in fact continue the Government announced a ban in May 1917, but backed off after strong representation from the industry. Eventually, in May 1918, it was prohibited at all courses with the exception of Newmarket. Other professional sports which continued throughout the war included Billiards and Boxing.

There was, in fact, little fear of football holding back any young man who wanted to enlist. A patriotic fever had swept the country, the war was expected to last only a couple of months, and the young men were joining up in droves. So much so, that the major crises that football clubs were to face were (1) a loss of revenue from reduced crowds, and (2) constant difficulties in getting a team together. Players and spectators alike deserted the playing fields for the killing fields, and average Football League gates fell to 50% of normal as early as October. Clubs saw their revenues decline drastically, and schemes were introduced for the reduction of players' wages. A meeting of the North Eastern League was held in the County Hotel, Newcastle on 26th November 1914, and although the Press were excluded, the Newcastle "Evening Chronicle" was able to report that suspension of the League was one of the topics discussed. In the event, members decided that in view of the players' agreement to accept wage cuts, they should be able to continue to the end of the season if clubs were to support one other.

Most clubs did in fact struggle through to the end of the season, though some found it impossible to carry on. The Tyneside League lost three members - Wallsend Elm Villa, Willington UM and Coxlodge Villa, because they could no longer raise a team. The Northern Alliance claimed that at some of their clubs, two full sides had enlisted in the forces leaving only a third eleven to carry on. The Durham FA at its AGM in May 1915 reported that 3,605 players, 1,102 officials and 651 other members had enlisted. One notable local recruit was Charles Buchan of Sunderland, who joined the Grenadier Guards and found himself posted to London where, it was announced, "he would be available to play for Chelsea when his military duties permitted."

1914-15 - final tables for the main Tyneside Competitions

The season had been a financial disaster. To some observers, the game might have been better served if it had, in fact, been banned by the Government. Ashington, for example, lost 𧵜 6s 2d on the season, and South Shields � 0s 0d. Most clubs saw gross takings fall by 50%. They also had to cope with military usage of their grounds 4 . In February 1915 the "Evening Chronicle" reported: "Hebburn Argyle's ground is occupied most days by the 'millingtery', and consequently the playing pitch is not what it might be."

4. The main stand at White Hart Lane was converted into a gas-mask factory for the duration of the War.

Something had to be done. A joint meeting of the Football League, Southern League and the Scottish and Irish Leagues was convened at the Winter Gardens, Blackpool on 3rd July 1915, and a number of resolutions were adopted, including a prohibition on making payments to players. (The Scottish League dissented from this latter measure, and professional footballers in Scotland continued to be paid). Furthermore, in order to prevent disruption to the war effort, all games were to be played on Saturdays or public holidays. Subsequent to this meeting the Football League, in a separate meeting, decided to abandon the League programme altogether for the 1915-16 season. After this somewhat hasty decision, wiser councils must have prevailed, for a fortnight later at the Football League AGM it was announced that League competitions would continue - but organised on a regional basis, with separate competitions in the North-West and Midlands. In the south, the London clubs got together with a number of Southern League members to form the London Combination. It was stressed however that all matches were to be regarded as friendlies, and no Medals, Shields, Cups &c. would be awarded. And of course, the players would not be paid.

In the North both the Tyneside League and the Northern Alliance announced that they would be suspending operations for the duration of the War. A more cautious approach was taken by the North Eastern League, which held its AGM at the County Hotel, Newcastle, on 24th July 1915. Delegates unanimously agreed that the league should suspend its operations during the coming season, however it was noted that the FA had "no objections to clubs getting together to arrange a few friendly fixtures among themselves." When a number of Tyneside clubs announced their intention to do just that, the League hierarchy stepped in to ensure that it would maintain a degree of control. On 21st August a meeting was held in the Metropole Hotel, Newcastle, to organise "a competition under the authority of the North Eastern League for the coming season." Seven clubs were represented at the meeting:- Hebburn Argyle, Jarrow, North Shields, Scotswood, South Shields, Sunderland Rovers and Wallsend. Within a week applications had been received from Boldon Colliery, Houghton Rovers, Leadgate Park, Marsden Rescue, Newburn and Willington Athletic. Only Houghton Rovers were admitted, making eight members in all of what was to become known as the "North Eastern League - Tyneside Combination". Players would not be paid, but referees would receive a maximum of half-a-crown per game plus their (third class) railway fare. Other local leagues to operate along similar lines were the Northern Combination, the Wearside League and the Stanley and District League.

The NEL-Tyneside Combination commenced on 18th September 1915. Because there were only eight clubs in membership it was decided to split the competition into two half-seasons, so that each club would play each other four times during the season. Although nominally under the auspices of the North Eastern League, the football was of a considerably lower standard, and clubs often had to borrow spectators from the crowd to make up their numbers. South Shields, who had been pushing for admittance to the Football League before the war commenced, were champions in both half-seasons.

North Eastern League-Tyneside Combination - season 1915-16

When the North Eastern League held its AGM on 5th August 1916, the secretary reported a loss of 㿅 4s 5d for the year. Delegates from the 16 clubs present agreed that the League itself should remain suspended for the forthcoming season, but that the Tyneside Combination should continue as before. However, when they met on 14th August to discuss fixtures only six clubs were present, North Shields and Hebburn Argyle having dropped out. Houghton Rovers followed them after playing only three games, and their place was taken by Tyneside Electrical Engineers - a team comprised of serving soldiers which included Chris Duffy, a professional with Bury, who had been in the Newcastle United championship-winning side of 1905-06. The team played at Hawkey's Lane, formerly the North Shields ground.

Because of the reduced number of clubs the first half-season was completed earlier than anticipated, and it was announced that the second half would commence on 9th December 1916. The difficulties of getting a side together were increasing however - most able-bodied young men who were not at the Front were engaged on "War Work", and Munitions Tribunals had been established, with the power to fine workers for any unauthorised time lost. Faced with these difficulties, South Shields decided to withdraw before the second half commenced. The first half-season ended on 2nd December 1916, with Scotswood finishing up as champions.

The second half-season had some elements of farce. Sunderland Rovers announced that they would not commence their fixtures until February. In Jarrow's opening game against Tyneside Electrical Engineers they had to borrow four players from the crowd. They chose well, winning 6-1! At another match between these teams, this time at Jarrow, the ground was in such a poor condition that the game should have been postponed, but rather than disappoint the spectators the teams agreed to play a friendly. The competition finished with one match unplayed (or at least unreported), but there was no doubt whatever as to the championship, Scotswood claiming the title once again. This was to be the last season for the NEL-Tyneside Combination.

Other local leagues functioning during this season were the Tyneside Works' League, the Tyneside Munitioneers' League, the Mid-Tyne Amateur League, and the United Free Churches League. Despite its name, the latter was not solely a Church League, and included a number of factory sides, including one from the Aircraft Assembly Factory on the Town Moor - Aviation Athletic. (The Northern Combination had given up after 1915-16, and did not resume until after the War).

North Eastern League-Tyneside Combination - season 1916-17 (TEE and Houghton results consolidated)

The season also witnessed the emergence of a new phenomenon 5 - the Munition Workers Girls' teams. When so many young men marched off to war in 1914 it had fallen to women to pick up some of the tasks they normally performed. Initially this had involved them in relatively light jobs such as acting as tram conductresses, and delivering the mail. However, by 1916 the war was going badly, despite jingoistic reports in the newspapers, and the opposing sides had fought themselves to a virtual standstill. Despite the introduction of conscription the British Army was running out of men. To replace them, women were encouraged to take up jobs in industry to release more men for the front. Many young working-class women were only too ready to respond to this call, not just for reasons of patriotism, but to break free from the domestic drudgery that was their only other hope of gainful employment. The manufacture of munitions in particular attracted large numbers of women, and by March 1917 they comprised 80 percent of the workforce. Never before had such a large cohort of young women found themselves thrown together so closely, and they enjoyed their new-found freedom, even though they worked in dangerous conditions, with rates of pay approximately half that of their remaining male co-workers. They organised social activities among themselves, and one of the recreational outlets they explored was football. They did not play in organised leagues, but staged friendly matches for charitable causes. Women's football teams sprang up all over the country, and Tyneside was no exception. One of the earliest recorded games on Tyneside between teams of female munition workers was on 3rd February 1917, when The Wallsend Slipway Company played North East Marine to raise funds for the Queen Mary Needlework Guild. Initially the Press did not know how to refer to them - "Female Munitions Workers", "Munitions Ladies", "Munitions Girls" and "Fair Footballers" being some of the titles they were given. In the following season they would come to be known generally as "Munitionettes". Sadly, few photographs of these teams have survived.

5. Strictly speaking ladies' football was not a new phenomenon. Tyneside had witnessed it before. In 1895 Miss Nettie Honeyball and her "British Ladies' Football Club" visited the North-East during their tour of Britain, and staged three exhibition matches - at Mowbray Road (South Shields), Feethams (Darlington) and at St James's Park. The latter, played on 20th April 1895, attracted a crowd of 8,000, a record for the time. For more information on the British Ladies Football Club click here

Armstrong's (Elswick) Lady Footballers - April 21st 1917

Following the demise of the NEL-Tyneside Combination the Northumberland and Durham Football Associations were concerned to ensure the continuance of a league competition on Tyneside. It was suggested to the United Free Churches League that they drop their title temporarily, making it easier for outside clubs and Church of England teams to join in. A public meeting was held at the Roma Cafe in Newcastle on August 3rd 1917, at which this suggestion was favourably received, and on a motion from Boldon Colliery, seconded by Pandon Temperance, it was agreed that a league should be formed for clubs within 10 miles radius of the Newcastle Central Post Office, the arrangement to be for the duration of the war only.

The United Free Churches League met on 9th August and voted in favour of this proposal, subject to their already-elected officials remaining in position in the new league, to be called the Newcastle and District United League. On 10th August a joint meeting of the Northumberland and Durham Associations sanctioned the new league on this basis.

The new league was a very mixed bunch, bringing together clubs from the old Tyneside League, the Tyneside Works League and the United Free Churches League, together with a number of new works teams and one from the Royal Flying Corps. A surprise inclusion was Newcastle United. The club had applied to join the Football League (Lancashire Section) in July 1916, but had to withdraw as several of their players were munitions workers and could not be away from home overnight. After two seasons kicking their heels the club management was keen to see a representative side in action once more. To reflect the fact that they were playing in company beneath their normal station the side was named Newcastle United Juniors, a name which they changed at the last minute to Newcastle United Swifts. The full line-up of clubs at the start of the season was as follows:- Aviation Athletic (the works team of the aircraft assembly factory situated near Grandstand Road) Benton Square Mission (home ground Holystone, near Shiremoor) Boldon Colliery (a former Tyneside League club, home ground Station Road) Brighton West End (a former Tyneside League club, home ground Nuns Moor) Burradon Mission Felling (based at Old Fold) Gateshead Victoria Heaton Celtic Hebburn Caledonians and Hebburn Colliery (both based at Hebburn Colliery) Munitions United (a works team from Backworth) Newburn Grange Newcastle United Swifts North Shields Prudhoe Villa (based at Hawkey's Lane, the old North Shields Athletic ground) Pandon Temperance (based at the former Newcastle East End ground at St Anthony's) Royal Flying Corps (possibly based at the Town Moor - played matches at the College of Medicine, Heaton) Smith's Dock (based at Percy Main)

Of these, the weakest teams were the RFC and Heaton Celtic by the end of September they had conceded 31 and 45 goals respectively without a single goal in their favour. Heaton Celtic left the league shortly thereafter, accompanied by Gateshead Victoria, and were replaced by Electric Supply from Wallsend, and Derby Street Guild from Elswick. Felling Colliery also joined the league at this time, but unlike the two previous clubs they did not have to inherit a disastrous playing record! Other casualties during the season were Hebburn Caledonians, who were replaced by Bentonians, and the RFC, who were replaced by another, equally unskilled RFC team. By the end of the season the Royal Flying Corps had the unenvied record of having played 23, won 1, drawn 1, lost 21, goals for 12, goals against 145. All of the scheduled matches were not completed, and a final League Table did not appear in the usual newspapers, but the following, which I have put together from the last published table plus subsequent results, shows that the clear winners were Pandon Temperance. Newcastle United, to the surprise and disappointment of their management, could only manage third place.

Newcastle and District United League - season 1917-1918

Other local competitions during this season were the Tyneside Works League, the Tyneside Munition Workers League, the East and West Tyne League (2 divisions), and the Tyneside Amateur League.

The Munition Girls' teams also continued to go from strength to strength. During this season the most successful team was Blyth Spartans Munitions Girls. Having begun with informal kick-abouts on the sands, watched by admiring sailors, the girls had progressed to form a regular team, and adopted the green and white strips of their local club. On 18th August 1917 they met Blyth United Munitions Girls at Croft Park in a match for the benefit of the Cowpen and Crofton Workmen's Patriotic Fund. Spartans were far too strong for their opponents, and ran out 10-1 winners. Two days later the Newcastle "Daily Chronicle" carried an article entitled "Munition Girls' Challenge Cup". A trophy had been donated for a knock-out competition to be held between Munition Girls. The competition would be organised along the following lines charitable organisations would apply for cup-ties to be allocated to them, and they would be expected to make all the necessary arrangements. The teams would turn up on the day and play, and whatever takings were made at the gate would go to charity. It was clear the term "Munition Girls" was to be interpreted rather widely "Ladies' teams from Tyneside District drawn from any establishment or concern such as works, factories, mills, railways, tramways, collieries, shops etc. will be allowed to compete". The article did not reveal the donor of the trophy, but its official title was the "Tyne Wear & Tees Alfred Wood Munition Girls Cup", suggesting that it may have been given in memory of Alfred Wood, a partner in the Hartley-Wood Glass Company of Sunderland, who died in 1916.

Blyth's star player was their centre-forward, Bella Reay. During their cup run she scored 13 times in five games, including a double hat-trick in their 2nd round victory over NEM Engineering at St James's Park. The NEM team hotly contested her fifth goal, claiming it was offside, and eventually walked off the pitch. After 15 minutes they agreed to carry on, but the referee refused to have anything more to do with them, and a substitute referee had to fill in for the rest of the game.

A key figure in the organisation of these matches 6 was Bill McCracken, the Northern Ireland international, who had joined Newcastle United in 1904 (and would play for them until 1922). He acted as referee at several of these games, for example between Palmers (Jarrow) Ladies and Wallsend Slipway on 1st September, which Wallsend won 2-0. The match was played at Morpeth in aid of the Morpeth V.A.D. Hospital, illustrating the distances these teams would travel in order to play. On another occasion Palmers played the Birtley Cartridge Case Factory at Bishop Auckland in aid of "Jack's Bairns Day", whatever that was. Through his Northern Ireland connections, McCracken also organised the first ever international ladies' match 7 when he arranged for a team from Tyneside to play Belfast Ladies at Grosvenor Park. Surprisingly Bella Reay was not picked for the side, though she did feature in the Probables v Possibles trial match on 15th December, playing for the Probables. The team which did travel proved strong enough for the occasion, winning 4-1 on Boxing Day 1917 before a crowd of 20,000. The Tyneside line-up was as follows: Margaret Scott (Palmers), Hilda Weygood (NEM), Maggie Short (Wallsend Slipway), Bella Willis (50 Shop), Bella Carrot capt. (NEM), Bella Turnbull (Wallsend Slipway), Mary Dorrian (Brown's), Nellie Kirk, (Brown's), Sarah Cornforth (Birtley), Ethel Jackson (NEM), Lizzie McConnell (Wallsend Slipway). Tyneside's goals were scored by Dorrian, Jackson, Cornforth and Kirk (pen). The "Tyneside Internationals", as the Press referred to them, (although two were from Teesside), would later play a team representing the North of England at St James's Park on 4th June 1918, on this occasion the honours falling even with a 2-2 draw.

6. McCracken also organised men's charity games, for example on 13th April 1918 St James's Park was host to "McCracken's XI v Tyne Anti-Aircraft Defences" in aid of the Royal Artillery P.O.W. Fund. Despite their amateurish-sounding name, the AA team members were all professional footballers.

7. The official FA record credits the first international match to the Dick, Kerr Ladies team who played a French representative side in April 1920 - the Tyneside Ladies' match in Belfast predates this by 28 months.

The first Munitionettes' Cup Final took place at St James's Park on 30th March 1918. It brought together two geographical extremes - Blyth Spartans' Munition Girls and Bolckow, Vaughan's Ladies of South Bank, Teesside, and ended in a tense 0-0 draw. This match alone raised 𧽫 for charity. The replay on 18th May 1918 was an emphatic 5-0 win for Blyth, Bella Reay scoring a hat-trick and the Spartans' captain, Bella Metcalfe, getting the remaining two goals. Spartans also fielded a "ringer" - Mary Lyons of Jarrow.

Blyth Spartans Munition Girls - Munitionette Cup Winners 1918Back Row: Hannah Weir, Lizzie James, Nellie FairlessCentre Row: Agnes Sample, Martha O'Brien, Bella Metcalfe Front Row: Dollie Summers, Annie Allan, Bella Reay, Dollie Allan, Jean Morgan(photograph courtesy of Mrs. Sheila Angus)

Bolckow, Vaughan Ladies - Munitionette Cup Runners-up 1918Back Row: Emily Milner, Amelia Farrell, Greta Kirk, Violet Sharples Front Row : Elizabeth Powell, Mary Mohan, Mercy Page, Winnie McKenna, Gladys Reece, Olive Percival, Anne Wharton(photograph courtesy of Peter McNaughton identifications thanks to John O'Neill, Grangetown in Times Past)

Cup Winners medal awarded to Bella Metcalfe(photograph courtesy of Mrs Sheila Angus)

The Munitionettes took their football seriously, but they could not, unfortunately, avoid being treated on occasions as curiosities. Occasionally their opponents would be a team of men, who would play with their hands tied behind their backs (apart from the goalkeeper, who had one hand free). An example of such a game is shown below. A more bizarre example was a match at Stanley on 24th November 1917. A team from Armstrong-Whitworth's No 43 Shop (Elswick) played a side comprising ex-soldiers from the Joseph and Jane Cowen Rehabilitation Home at Benwell. To add novelty value the organisers fielded a team comprising eight one-legged and two one-armed men (one assumes the goalkeeper was not an amputee). The final score was 6-4 in favour of the "Wounded Warriors", who were assisted by the award of two penalties. Although the event undoubtedly raised much-needed funds for local charities, it is hard not to feel that the women were being subject to a certain amount of exploitation on this occasion.

Haslemere Ladies' versus the Seaforth Reserves - North Mail, 26th June 1917

As they were mainly concerned with raising money for charities, Munitionettes' games continued throughout the close season. One of the more interesting games was that played between the so-called "Tyneside Internationals" and a team representing the North of England. This took place at St. James's Park on 6th July 1918 and resulted in a 1-1 draw. According to press reports, the "Woman of the Match" was Mary Lyons of Palmer's, Jarrow, playing for the North of England. This was quite a remarkable feat, as Mary was only 14 years old. She seems to have been something of a dynamo, and was selected to play for England in the return match against Northern Ireland on 21st September 1918. Mary got 2 goals in England's 5-2 win, and thus became the youngest ever footballer to play for England - male or female.

1918-19 commenced with the same arrangements as the previous season. The Lancashire and Midland Sections of the Football League continued as before, with the London Combination in the south. On Tyneside the Newcastle and District United League embarked on another campaign, but with a number of changes to its membership. Aviation Athletic, Benton Square Mission, Burradon Mission, Electric Supply, North Shields Prudhoe Villa and the Royal Flying Corps had left, to be replaced by Close Works (Felling), 29 Shop (Elswick), Palmers (Jarrow) and Walker Celtic.

For the first three months of the season the Newcastle and District United League remained the premier league for the area, but following the declaration of an Armistice on 11th November 1918 it soon had stiff competition. Representatives from six northern clubs (Durham City, Newcastle United, Middlesbrough, Scotswood, South Shields and Sunderland) got together on 6th December at the Grand Hotel in Sunderland to discuss the return of first-class football to the area. On a motion proposed by John French of Middlesbrough, seconded by Robert Kyle of Sunderland, they agreed to form a league of eight clubs to be called the "Northern Victory League". In addition to those present, it was anticipated that Hartlepools and Darlington would wish to join the competition, which would commence on 11th January 1919. Hartlepools signed up as expected, but Darlington were unable to get themselves organised in time, and their place was taken by Darlington Forge Albion, a scratch team from the Forge Tavern. Although they were out of their depth, Forge Albion did not collect the wooden spoon as the final table below shows. In fact their record for the short season included a 2-0 win over Newcastle at St James's Park.

Northern Victory League - 1919 half-season

The Victory League attracted a lot of spectators away from the Newcastle and District United League. Munitions United withdrew around the turn of the year to join the reformed Blyth and District League, of which they eventually became champions. Nevertheless, it continued until the end of the season, even though only two clubs were able to complete their full programme. This did not prevent a clear champion emerging however, and Felling took the honour by a large margin. The league had served its purpose however, and at its AGM on 5th June 1919 it was formally disbanded. During its life it raised 𧶯 for local charities. It had also organised the Tyne Charity Shield competition which raised a further 𧺉 7s 11½d for charity. This competition had an unusual outcome the finalists, Walker Celtic and Close Works, played two full games plus extra time without resolving the issue, and it was decided therefore to award the trophy to them jointly, and two sets of winners medals were distributed to the teams.

Newcastle and District United League - season 1918-1919

Matches between teams of Munitionettes also continued, but once the War was over there was no further need for the Munitionettes themselves, and they were speedily discharged from employment, or "demobilised", to use the euphemism of the time. Most received a few week's unemployment benefit, and were then expected to return to women's work - i.e. as a domestic servant or as a mother/housekeeper 8 . Boxing Day 1918 saw another big crowd at St James's Park, when 18,000 spectators watched Tyneside defeat Whitehaven 3-0 with goals from Mary Dorrian, Winnie McKenna and Mary Lyons. This was no mean feat - it was Whitehaven's first defeat, their record to date being played 25, won 23, drawn 2.

The Munitionettes' Cup managed to run to completion, although in the latter stages guest players from other teams were drafted in to create more interest and attract larger crowds. The winners were a combined team from Palmers Jarrow and Hebburn Works, who included three top-class guest players - Bella Reay from Blyth Spartans, Bella Willis from Armstrong-Whitworths and Minnie Seed from Gosforth Aviation. They disposed of Hood Haggies Girls 4-0 on 23rd November, and Armstrong-Whitworths 4-1 on 8th February. This latter match was played at St James's Park, and Palmers' star player was Bella Reay, who scored a hat-trick. In the semi-final on 2nd March Palmers met another local team, Foster, Blackett and Wilson's, led by Palmers' former goalkeeper, Maggie Scott. In a closely contested game Palmers emerged the winners by the odd goal in five. The final, in which Palmer's met Brown's of West Hartlepool, was contested on a snow-covered St. James's Park on 22nd March 1919, in front of 10,000 spectators. Brown's also had a guest player in their line-up - the redoubtable Winnie McKenna of Bolckow, Vaughans. She was unable to prevent Palmers winning 1-0, the goal being scored by Bella Reay, who together with Mary Lyons achieved the distinction of being the only double winners of the Munitionettes' Cup in its short history. (At the same time Winnie McKenna became the only double winner of a runners-up medal)

8. Foster, Blackett and Wilson of Hebburn had a more enlightened attitude. In April 1919 they converted part of their premises into a toy-making factory, trading under the name of "Bairntoys", the aim being to provide continued employment for some of the girls who had manufactured shrapnel during the war.

Munitionettes' Cup 1919 - Bella Reay scoring at St James's Park

Palmers Munitionettes - Munitionette Cup Winners 1919Front row: centre - Mary Lyons, far right - Beattie TaylorThe matronly figure is Mrs Ornsby, the Female Factory Superintendent.

Browns Munitionettes - Munitionette Cup Runners-up 1919Back row: M. Hodgson*, E. Cambridge*, G. Kelley, M. McKenzie (at rear), N. Henderson*, H. Knight*, M. BoothFront Row: M. Dorrian*, N. Murray, N. Stott* (capt.), M. McPherson*, E. Ferguson*( * indicates players who appeared in the final)

The last really big crowd for a Munitionettes' game on Tyneside was on 22nd April 1919, when 30,000 spectators saw Tyneside take on Dick, Kerr's Ladies of Preston. The first encounter between these teams, at Deepdale on 6th March, resulted in a 1-0 win for the Preston side, and hopes were high for a Tyneside victory. In the event the result was a disappointing 0-0 draw.

Munitionettes' games continued into the summer of 1919, with representative matches between Tyneside v Teeside, Durham v Northumberland and Newcastle v Sunderland. The difficulties the organisers faced in getting teams together is revealed by the fact that in the latter match, the "Sunderland" team was made up almost entirely of girls from Teesside, plus Bella Reay. The industrial base on which these teams were founded had now vanished, and this unique phenomenon passed into history. The "Evening Chronicle" (Football Edition) carried the most perfunctory of epitaphs in its issue of 15th January 1921:

"Ladies' football, which we never appreciated, is going strong in the Preston area 9 . The team of females connected with some works there have raised 㾻,000 for charity in the last four and a half years."

9. This was a reference to the Dick, Kerr and Company team, who had set a gate record for a women's match. On Boxing Day 1920 they defeated St Helen's Ladies 4-0 at Goodison Park in front of a 53,000 crowd, raising ١,115 for charity. They also toured France and the United States. The Football Association had become concerned, however, by alleged irregularities in the disbursement of funds raised for charities. In December 1921 it issued an instruction that women's teams were to be banned from all Football League grounds. This prohibition remained in place for the next fifty years, finally being lifted in July 1971.

The North-Eastern League recommenced operations in season 1919-20, but was missing several of its pre-War members. South Shields, the last champions, had been elected to the Football League, but maintained representation through their reserve team. North Shields Athletic had changed its name to Preston Colliery and joined the Northern Alliance. Darlington, Gateshead Town, Hebburn Argyle, Jarrow, Newcastle City and Sunderland Rovers had become defunct. The town of Darlington maintained a presence however, as Forge Albion changed its name to Darlington FC and joined the North Eastern League after the breakup of the Victory League. Jarrow too were represented through the election of the team from Palmer's. During the summer of 1919 a few individuals had formed a company - the "Palmer's (Jarrow) Association Football Club Ltd" which had taken over the club. The club played as Palmer's Jarrow for most of the season, but in March 1920 changed its name to Jarrow to carry on a tradition which had begun in 1894.

One final issue which remained to be resolved concerned players who had taken part in "unaffiliated games" during the war. After much discussion the Northumberland F.A. issued the following statement on 21st August 1919: "This Association has decided to grant a General Amnesty to all players who have played in unaffiliated football during the war period, but their names must be sent to the secretary on or before August 28th next." Normality had finally returned!

1. Archives of "The Journal", "North Mail", "Evening Chronicle", "Daily Chronicle", "Illustrated Chronicle", "Jarrow Guardian" - Local Studies section of the Newcastle Central Library.
2. Archives of the "Shields Gazette" and "Jarrow Chronicle" - Local Studies section of the South Shields Central Library.
3. Minute book of the Northumberland Football Association 1913-1920 - Tyne and Wear Archives.
4. "In A League Of Their Own" - history of the Dick, Kerr Ladies' Football Team by Gail J Newsham published by Scarlet Press 1997, ISBN 1-85727-029-0
5. "Belles of the Ball" by David J Williamson published by R & D Associates 1991, ISBN 0-9517512-0-4
6. "Women's Factory Work in WWI" by Gareth Griffiths published by Alan Smith 1991, ISBN 0-86299-795-X

Related Topics

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(1) Ministry of Defence Factsheet: Military Honours and Awards

(2) Historian John Glanfield has carried out x-ray tests and is author of Bravest of the Brave: The Story of the Victoria Cross.

(3) Photograph courtesy of Barry Jenkins.

(5) Photograph courtesy of Barry Jenkins.

The image of the Distinguished Service Order (D.S.O.) medal is reproduced on this page courtesy of Robert Prummel and the work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. You are free to share and make derivative works of the file under the conditions that you appropriately attribute it, and that you distribute it only under a license identical to this one.

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