It happened in ’20

Morpeth Centenaries falling in the year 2020 extracted from the writings of Alec Tweddle by Peter Fuller

1120  Ranulph de Merlay, eldest son of William, Baron Morpeth, married Juliana, daughter of Cospatrick III Earl of Dunbar and March, and a claimant to the title Earl of Northumbria through descent from Cospatrick I, the last Viking Earl. She was possibly his cousin as his mother was also a Cospatrick.

1220 King Henry III commanded Roger de Merlay, Baron Morpeth, to besiege and destroy Cockermouth Castle, which was in rebellion. It belonged to William de Forz, 3rd Earl of Albemarle. In 1219 he had been declared a rebel and excommunicated for attending a forbidden tournament. In 1220 matters came to a crisis when he refused to surrender the two royal castles of Rockingham and Sauvey of which he had been made constable in 1216. Henry III marched against them in person, the garrisons fled, and they fell without a blow. His other castles at Cockermouth, Skipton, Holderness and elsewhere were also besieged. His rebellion died out the following year. [Incidently, de Forz was also descended from Cospatrick I, the last Viking Earl, and was therefore distantly related to de Merlay.]

1320 A year of temporary respite from war with Scotland after the Scots had seized Berwick back from the English.

1420 A deed plan shows that development had taken place on the west side of Newgate Street which had previously been undeveloped.

1520 Lord Dacre, Baron Morpeth, attended upon the King (Henry VIII) at ‘The Field of the Cloth of Gold’ in France with numerous others. Afterwards six French ambassadors to Scotland arrived in Morpeth to see Lord Dacre that he might inform them fully of the situation in Scotland as Dacre “has great influence with the Scotch Lords.” The French delegation continued to Scotland but upon their arrival they were arrested.

Dacre reported to Wolsey that he had personally escorted further French envoys from Morpeth to Edinburgh in September with instructions to conclude a truce between England and Scotland for a period of 12 months. There he witnessed a riot between the supporters of rival Scotch Lords Albany and Angus in the streets. Two of Dacre’s men were slain in the melee. Nevertheless an extension of the truce between England and Scotland was signed and Dacre returned satisfied that he had done his duty.

1620 Robert Brandling became MP for Morpeth.

1720 it was reported that the windmill at Cottingwood was intended only for use when the river Wansbeck was too low to power the town’s water mills, but Lord Carlisle complained that it had been used to avoid paying dues at the Town Mill. He required 53 burgesses to sign an undertaking that they would henceforth use only the town mill. It was also reported that there was a brick kiln and several clay pits at Cottingwood, the source of bricks for many new buildings in the town. [The windmill and brick kilns were sited where the High School now stands.]

1820 Local builder Thos. King constructed an enclosed reservoir on Allery Banks, fed erratically by several small streams, which provided water to a number of public sites and some houses in the town. The water supplied was light-heartedly known as The King’s Water. Beyond the Market Place water still had to be drawn from the public well in Wellway, although many commercial establishments and some of the wealthier citizens had private wells on their properties. At this time a large part of Allery Banks was in use as a fruit orchard though some part remained as common grazing.

Newcastle architect John Dobson designed a new county gaol at Goosehill in the form of two half-octagonal courtyards with a governor’s house and administrative block at the centre. To get the building stone to the site from Quarry Woods, local builder and stonemason Thos. King demolished the house of correction and built a temporary wooden bridge across the Wansbeck (downstream of the later Telford Bridge).

1920 The Corporation sued the Northumberland Farmers’ Auction Mart at Stobhill under the town charter of 1199 which had awarded the burghers exclusive rights to hold a market on Wednesdays. The Corporation won their case and the court ordered the Northumberland Farmers to cease holding markets on Wednesdays.

Mr Waters, joint-owner of Robson and Waters Mineral Company, moved into the larger eastern half of Orde House – his partner Mr Robson already owned the adjoining smaller northern wing.

The landlord of the Sun Inn by St Mary’s resurrected the Morpeth Olympics after a break for the Great War. The event was held in the Boundary Playing field at Stobhill.

A council housing estate was built on the former Victorian Pleasure Garden at High Stanners as ‘homes fit for heroes’ and the area became known as Garden City (not to be confused with the later private ‘garden city’ development off Loansdean). These were the first semi-detached rather than terraced council properties, and the first with inside WCs and bathrooms. The only road access to the area was through the ford at the end of Oldgate, and, although there were footbridges at the end of Oldgate and up to Dogger Bank, the main access was over the Bakehouse Steps.

Swinney’s acquired Winston House Field and laid out tennis courts for the firm’s social club.

The County Council founded the Morpeth Commercial College at 53 Newgate.

A row of stables in Corporation Square (behind Corporation Yard) was converted by the Morpeth Branch of Toc H into a social centre which was a ‘replica of Talbot House in Poperinghe, Belgium’ to ‘provide milk and eggs to the needy’.

The Singer Sewing Machine Company acquired the prominent shop at the corner of Oldgate and the Market Square, together with workshop premises behind, for the sale and repair of sewing machines. This spot became widely known as ‘Singer’s Corner’.

A new gated-entrance was created into the Newmarket from the Market Place next to the Town Hall by the demolition of the former Scotch Inn (ex YMCA) and adjoining derelict Gentleman’s Club building. The Morpeth Social Club relocated to the old post office building in the northeast corner of the Market Place.

The barracks and ammunition store of the Scottish Horse Brigade at the Grammar School were converted to provide additional classrooms.

The Rev. A.H. Drysdale retired as Minister at the Presbyterian Church and published a history of the Presbyterian movement.

4 thoughts on “It happened in ’20

  1. Fascinating read. Thank you for doing it. Can I point out one thing please? Over the last 5. -10 years the Market Place has been incorrectly referred to as the Market Square. Is it possible for this to be corrected? Thank you

  2. Found this information so interesting. I echo Mary Ord concerning the Market Place, so annoying for the name not to be said correctly.

  3. I noticed when my son (now 26) was a teenager that his generation were using the term Market Square and I would correct him often!

    1. It seems that Morpeth-born people (including Old Edwardians) now in their early forties and younger all use the term “Market Square” – not sure what brought on the change. Notably – a local event organiser of that generation calls her business “Prosecco@TheSquare” – explicitly meaning the Market Place

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