Looking back 10, 25, 50 years ago (published Gazette, December 25, 2014)

The Northumberland Gazette delves into the archives to remind readers of stories from the past.

10 YEARS AGO – December 23, 2004

In a chilling parody of the Christmas story, young families in north Northumberland are finding it impossible to get a roof over their heads. Alnwick house prices have more than doubled in three years, leaving youngsters, families and even skilled workers looking elsewhere for homes. Following the branding of Alnwick as the best place to live in Britain by Country Life magazine in 2002, house prices have soared. The opening of The Alnwick Garden and the use of Alnwick Castle in the smash-hit Harry Potter films have helped to boost the town’s popularity and desirability. But it means that young people, first-time buyers and those on low incomes cannot afford to take the first steps onto the property ladder. Alnwick Mayor, Coun Gordon Castle, said: “This follows on from the increase of house prices after the sudden discovery of Alnwick.”

25 YEARS AGO – December 21, 1989

New technology is playing its part in helping to conserve wildlife on the Farne Islands. A new computer system introduced on the islands during the 1989 season has proved to be a great success. The Farne Islands are one of the most important European Seabird Nature Reserves, where over 17 different species of seabirds breed every year, together with a colony of 1,000 breeding grey seals. As a result, grant aid was obtained from the European Social Fund to enable National Trust assistant wardens to undertake training in nature conservation using modern technological equipment. Important information has now been logged on the computer and this has included recordings of the breeding bird population on the islands, and the number of grey-seal pup births. Most notably, 36 years of previous data has been successfully transferred onto computer records.

50 YEARS AGO – December 24, 1964

A number of small automatic telephone exchanges in north Northumberland are to be discontinued and amalgamated with larger neighbouring exchanges, Rothbury Rural Council learned at its monthly meeting on Tuesday. The effect this might have on subscribers, particularly new subscribers, gave rise to concern among members. Major ASC Browne, of Callaly, said he understood the Callaly exchange was one of those to be closed and would be joined to Whittingham. He said he hoped that this would not lead to increased rentals and that new subscribers would not have to pay increased installation fees because the distance might be greater to the Whittingham exchange than it would have been to the Callaly exchange. “This would be hard on people in outlying areas,” he added.