Village says farewell to king

Fred Bettess, from Alnmouth.
Fred Bettess, from Alnmouth.

The man once hailed as the King of Alnmouth and described as the font of all knowledge on the history of the village has died, aged 95.

Fred Bettess was born in 1918, in Lancashire, the youngest of six children.

He went to Liverpool University where he studied civil engineering before graduating during the Second World War and going off to help build bomber aerodromes in Lincolnshire.

There he met Gladys, his wife of more than 50 years, who died in 1995.

Although he was in a reserved occupation, Fred joined the Royal Engineers and the couple married in June 1944, thanks to the kindness of another soldier who let Fred have his 48-hour pass.

He went off to the Far East in late 1944, worked in India and then was part of the invasion of Malaya. He returned home in 1947 to take a job teaching civil engineering at Sunderland Technical College, until he retired in 1978.

Fred and Gladys first came to Alnmouth on holiday in the late 1940s before buying a holiday cottage in Back Lovaine Terrace in 1957.

When they retired they came to Alnmouth full-time and bought the house that they lived in for the rest of their lives.

He became fully involved with village life and served on the parish council, including as chairman. He was also involved with the Hindmarsh Hall and was able to help with its rejuvenation.

Fred developed an interest in postcards of the village and built up a collection of more than 300, which he used as a basis for talks.

Having published several books during his professional life, in 2010, he released An Alnmouth Scrapbook, which looks at various historical aspects of the village.

A year later, he published Recollections, which details his life from childhood to his retirement in Alnmouth.

And earlier this year, aged 94, he published his first book – The Story of Alnmouth – based on a thesis submitted by his late wife in 1974.