Looking back 10, 25, 50 years ago (published Gazette, Aug 22, 2013)

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

10 YEARS AGO - Thursday, August 21, 2003

The Duchess of Northumberland has hit back at ‘stuck in the mud’ critics of the Alnwick Garden. She denies claims made in national newspapers that the Alnwick Garden is her own ‘private Versailles’ being funded by the sale of the Madonna of the Pinks and undeserving of public finance. The Duchess, who is now a trustee of the Garden, said: “This isn’t my garden, it belongs to the North East and is a public project. We shrug off the critics, they don’t realise that the North needs to create jobs and boost businesses.” The Duchess is frustrated that many garden critics in the South don’t acknowledge or want to believe that her husband gave the 42-acre garden to charity, Alnwick Garden Trust, in April. The Duke also made a £9million donation to ensure the project was independent from his business, the Northumberland Estates.

25 YEARS AGO - Thursday, August 25, 1988

Scrambling fans have hit back at plans to stop racing at a top local motorcross site. Alnwick District Council recently served an enforcement order banning owner Gerry Balmbra from converting the area at Chesterhill, Swarland, into a motorcross park. Now an appeal has been launched by the Landowner Rights of Way Association to the Environment Secretary in support of the plan, with Mr Balmbra claiming backing from enthusiasts nationwide. He said: “I’ve got a bagful of letters all supporting me in the fight.” The letters include one from a Newcastle man whose son uses the track when on leave from duty in Northern Ireland and another from the General Secretary of Tyne & Wear Y.M.C.A, who says the park provides a valuable resource in helping young offenders.

50 YEARS AGO - Friday, August 23, 1963

Although retaining its independence, Alnwick Brewery Company, one of the oldest of its kind in the North country, is taking on the role of agent in the supply of beer to its houses. The decision to turn ‘factor’ rather than producer was taken because the demand for beer produced at home has been declining against an increasing demand for many of the other ‘more sophisticated drinks’. In a statement yesterday, the board said the decision to discontinue production had been taken reluctantly after long and anxious thought. A spokesperson said: “While modernised in some respects and maintains to meet the demands made upon it, it was, generally speaking, obsolete. The cost which its complete overhaul would entail would not be justified if production continued to fall, however slightly.”