Looking back 10, 25, 50 years ago (published Gazette, April 23, 2015)

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

Thursday, April 21, 2005

The decision to scrap middle schools was made this week despite overwhelming opposition from north Northumberland. Only one member of Northumberland County Council from both Berwick and Alnwick councils voted to move to two-tier education. Coun Robert Arckless (Labour), of Amble, backed the plans, but five councillors from Alnwick and Berwick voted against. Three other members were present at the meeting, but not for the vote, and the remaining three were absent. The recommendation to adopt a primary and secondary set-up was carried by 36 votes to 21 with Labour members in favour, and Conservatives, Lib Dems and Independents against. However, the final vote was only taken after a bid by the Conservatives to scrap the ‘flawed’ consultation and start again was defeated.

Friday, April 20, 1990

Unless a significant amount of rain falls in the near future, farmers in the region face a disastrous summer. That’s the worrying prediction of Mr Ian Sutherland, chairman of the NFU’s Northumberland County Branch, who admitted that the combined effects of last summer’s drought coupled with this year’s exceptionally dry spring could mean further poor crop yields. “It’s not a major problem at the moment, but it is a problem that is storing up unless it rains shortly,” he said. “There is already a moisture deficiency and if that continues into this summer it could be as disaster.” The growth of spring-sown crops, such as corn and barley, has been dramatically slowed and the cereals are not expected to develop if the dry spell continues, while well-established winter crops are beginning to show signs of stress because of the lack of moisture.

Friday, April 23, 1965

The two-day unofficial strike at Shilbottle Colliery ended with a return to work at midnight last night. The decision to go back was made at a two-hour mass meeting in the village’s Welfare Hall yesterday morning. Some 500 miners packed the hall to listen to union officials and it was standing room only. The strike – only the second at the pit since 1926 – began when 200 piece workers came out on Wednesday over a wages dispute. By night, the pit’s 750 workers were affected and production was at a standstill. The piece workers are asking for additional pay for working in difficult conditions. “Sometimes they are working very hard for little money,” said Mr Peter Leatherland, local branch secretary, after the meeting. Their case was being discussed with the colliery management yesterday afternoon.