No. 97 Autumn 2023

No. 97 Autumn 2023



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Editor: Mark Benjamin

Tel: 07879263848


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 Thoughts from a Chair    Mark Benjamin

Despite what the paper claimed at the time, we did not collaborate with the Hexham Courant to mark the 188th anniversary of Hexham’s railway station – what we did was to save it the embarrassment of announcing its 200th anniversary some 12 years too early! More positively, I had an enjoyable session with Tynedale Talking Newspaper, participating in a version of the old TV programme, Call My Bluff, based on Hexham street names. For those of you old enough to remember it, David Ratcliffe gave an excellent rendition of Robert Robinson’s somewhat smug chairing; fortunately, this being an audio-only version, an imitation of Mr Robinson’s comb-over was not necessary!

HLHS often receives enquiries regarding the history of the area from near and far through email, the Notes & Queries forum on the website, our Facebook page and even, occasionally, by letter! Unless they can be answered immediately by the recipient, these are first circulated amongst the committee members before being added to the next Newsletter. However, we know that many of you will have knowledge that the committee does not have and so we propose setting up an Enquiries Group to which enquiries will be first directed. There is absolutely no obligation to attempt to answer every query; but you may have that particular bit of local knowledge for which someone is searching! If you feel you could help, please contact me.

Whilst on the subject of involvement, I should like to take the opportunity to thank Yvonne Purdy and Liz Sobell, both of whom have stepped back after many years of service to HLHS; Yvonne as Secretary & Membership Secretary for many years, and Liz in many roles including Speakers Organiser, poster creator, editor and all round researcher! In recognition of all their hard work, both have been awarded Honorary Memberships of the HLHS and we hope to be able to continue to tap their accumulated knowledge for many years to come.

Still on the subject of thanks; you will all by now have received the latest Hexham Historian with its new layout and revolutionary spine! Much credit is due to the team of Helen Rutherford (editor) and Julia & Alan Grint (layout) who have taken over with our (especially my) grateful thanks. I should also like to take this opportunity to thank our advertisers, many of whom have supported us regularly over many years – and urge you to repay the favour by taking advantage of what they have to offer!

Lastly, some good news and some bad news. Hexham’s most famous poet, Wilfrid Gibson, noted that he had outlasted his fame but at least he is remembered. His sister, also a well-known poet in her time and the author of at least 40 books, has been all but forgotten. However, thanks to the efforts of Judy Greenway, not only has Elizabeth featured in our own publications, but now has her own entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Shamefully, Northumberland Libraries no longer subscribe to this title which is behind a paywall. Perhaps we should lobby for it to be reinstated!

 2023 AGM

Included with this Newsletter, you will find the papers for our AGM in November. This is your chance not only to approve the activities of the HLHS committee over the past year, but also to volunteer to join us in taking the Society forward. Current nominations are listed below, although Members are, of course, free to nominate themselves or others for any post. As it is, we still have vacancies for Talks and Visits organisers. The programmes for 2024 are almost complete but it would be nice to have some individuals (or pairs!) responsible for the delivery on the day and to plan ahead for 2025. If you think that this is something you could do, please have a word with any of the current committee, or email me for further discussion. We could also use some additional assistance with maintaining/enhancing the HLHS website. If you have computer skills and would like to help with the website, or if you would like to discuss the possibility, please email:

Nominations for HLHS Committee 2023/24 (Statutory offices in bold)

Chair Mark Benjamin
Vice Chair Ian Hancock
Secretary Julia Grint
Treasurer Mark Hatton
Editor HH Helen Rutherford & Julia Grint
Publications Officer Terry Eccles
Webmaster Pete Lee
Talks Organiser Vacant
Visits Organiser Vacant
Committee Members Jennifer Britton, Christine Hanley

 Proposed change to the constitution

In common with many other Charities, the Committee have been considering whether it would be wise for HLHS to adopt the CIO (Charitable Incorporated Organisation) structure. The main benefits are that it enhances the durability of the organisation and reduces the legal liability of Officers. As such it is the intention of the Committee to go down this route, subject to approval by the Membership. This will be proposed at the AGM, where Committee members will be able to answer any queries Members may have.

 Dates for your diary

Unless specified otherwise, all events take place at 7.30pm in Trinity Methodist Church Hall, Beaumont Street and are free to HLHS members, visitors £2. The Heritage Walks cost £5 (£4 for over-60s) and can be booked online at

Friday Oct 20th           The life & work of Jeremiah Dixon (1733-1779) of Cockfield Fell. Talk by David Hughes, FRAS. Brancepeth Village Hall, 7.15pm. £5
Tuesday Oct 24th       Our folk on twilting in our parlour: The pragmatic emotional networks of the quilt stampers of Allendale, 1870-1920. A talk by Deborah McQuire. Allendale Village Hall, 7.30pm £7
Wednesday Oct 25th  Heritage walk: Fire & strife: Newcastle in the English Civil War. Meet at Grey’s Monument, 2.30pm
Tuesday Nov 14th         HLHS AGM, and Chopwood, props and raff: Hexhamshire’s woodland over the last 400 years. A talk by Ian Hancock
Tuesday Jan 9th         An HLHS Zoom talk: Title to be announced!
Tuesday Feb 13th       North East executions An HLHS Zoom talk by Patrick Low
Tuesday Mar 12th      Hadrian’s Wall and the illusion of uniformity. An HLHS talk by Dr Rob Collins
Tuesday Apr 9th         Glass industry in the North East. An HLHS talk by Dr Oliver Gunning
Tuesday May 14th      Placenames of Northumberland. An HLHS talk by Prof Diana Whaley

 Hexham’s shops through the ages      Mark Benjamin

For some time, the Members’ Library has contained the Shops Index, a database created from the Goad Marketing Plans held in Hexham Library. I have been developing this to include, where possible, information from trades directories from the 19th and early 20th centuries, along with adverts found in publications that have come to our attention. An example of which is this advert for the Hydro found in an LNER timetable from 1926.

As a result, we can now give an, albeit incomplete, picture of the occupancy of individual shops in central Hexham and, accordingly, some indication of the history of some long-standing family businesses. As an example, here is the entry for 31 Fore Street:

311906William Milburn LisleBookseller & stationer
1910-25Thomas & George AllanStationers
1929British Bazaars LtdGeneral goods
1934J TaylorBaker
1938-57John Stanley Penney Wireless supply dealer
1955-57H L BonneyWatchmaker & jeweller
1971KeyholeLadieswear boutique
1975-83Café RomaRestaurant
1996-23Holland & BarrettHealth foods

Frustratingly, in many instances, actual shop numbers are missing from the record so that, for instance, we know that between 1934 and 1957 Sarah Annie Taylor ran a confectioner’s in the Market Place, but can’t tell where. In this instance, older members might be able to answer this; others, from earlier years, are now lost in the mists of time! In other cases, numbering has changed as adjoining shops merge or split as commercial forces dictate. There is also a gap from the late-1980s to mid-1990s where the source material was not available. This, too, is where members might be able to help.

If you would like to have a look at the listings for any streets to see if you can fill in any gaps, please contact me at or call me on 07879263848.

 What we did on our holidays: 2023’s Outings

Bywell Hall Because of restrictions on numbers there were two visits to Bywell Hall (Report by Christine Hanley who attended the afternoon session).

It was a bright and sunny afternoon for the HLHS outing to Bywell Hall in early May so, at first, it seemed a pity to almost disregard the fine 18th century house set in extensive grounds with great mature trees and acres of grassland sweeping down to the Tyne. However, the interior of the House had its own shining attractions and genuine warmth.

It was clear that this was a much-loved and well-used family home, evidenced by the boots and shoes just inside the rear entrance and the coat pegs with bold initials of the 3 young children of the family, reminiscent of my junior school.

Like most Grand Houses there were glass-fronted cupboards with services of fine bone china, beautifully decorated and on display, yet used regularly by the family themselves. All the rooms had family treasures and portraits of the ancestors keeping a watchful eye from their gilded frames. Many of the ornamental treasures and works of art were collected by Wentworth Blackett Beaumont who was Liberal MP for Northumberland & Tyneside for 40 years and a generous benefactor of Hexham. Beaumont Street was named after him when it was built in the 1860s, but when he became a peer in 1906 he chose Lord Allendale as his title because of the importance to the family of mineral mining in that area for more than 200 years.

Many thanks to our excellent guide, Jennifer Norderhaug.

Newcastle Guildhall (Report by Peter Coxon)

It was apparently the first time a tour had been admitted to the Guildhall for 3 years. We felt especially honoured. A severe flood in the area last Christmas had necessitated repairs which had only just been completed.

The building currently occupying the site replaced the original which was damaged by fire in 1639. The present building incorporates part of Robert Trollope’s Town Court of 1655-8, the North Front in 1796 by William Newton and David Stephenson, and the South Front (1809). The East End by John Dobson was added in 1823 and altered in 1880.

The building now reflects the Classical style incorporated in the early 19th century with its curved east facade of Doric columns and its frieze of Metopes and Triglyphs.

Immediately striking was the imposing statue of Charles ll on the staircase, which stood originally on the old Tyne Bridge. This is a legacy of Newcastle’s royalist sympathies, often put forward as the origin of the term “Geordie” due to its later support of the Hanoverians.

We were then shown up to the first floor and into the imposing Courthouse. It was said that prisoners, if found guilty of a serious crime, could literally be taken straight from the Court and put on the ships to be transported. It must have impressed or depressed any visitors, depending, of course, upon why they were there. The Courthouse was last used in the 1980s. Your view is immediately captured by the magnificent hammer beams spanning the width of the room, each end decorated with the shields of the Guilds that meet here. The number of Guilds is much reduced with 48 still in existence, 12 of which still meet here today.

The 2 most important Guilds were the Merchant Adventurers and the Hostmen. The Merchant Adventurers exercised control over trade: nothing could be bought or sold without the authority of this Guild. Membership was, traditionally, handed down from father to son, no women were admitted to this Guild. However, ladies can now be members. It was necessary to serve an apprenticeship with the Guild prior to applying to become a member. There are only 9 Merchant Adventurers now. The Hostmen bought and sold coal, an extremely important commodity on Tyneside during the industrial revolution.

From the Courthouse we were shown in to the Merchant Adventurers Room and were struck by the beautifully carved oak Fireplace, in the Flemish style, depicting scenes from the bible. We were then shown the holding cell maintained for anyone misbehaving in the Court area. Fortunately none of us did!

Finally we visited the Council Chamber bedecked on one side with pictures, originally from the Mansion House, depicting scenes from around Newcastle. When this Chamber was in use 24 Councillors met here, with the Mayor’s seat at the end of the room. All the Council business that was done here is carried out now in the Civic Centre.

We were told that King Charles I was held prisoner in the Guildhall and while he was here he was allowed to play golf at Shieldfield! Lucky chap.

Most of us then repaired to the nearby Hard Rock Cafe for a cuppa after a most enjoyable tour.

Thanks must be extended to Pat Lowery and her colleague for expertly guiding us around and to Jennifer Britton for organising the tour and getting us in to see the building before anyone else post-Covid.

Newbiggin Maritime Centre & Rocket House (Report by Chris Britton)

Jennifer was anxious to maintain her reputation for arranging good weather for our outings. Uncharacteristically, we left Hexham in the rain. However, we realised shortly after entering the Maritime Centre at Newbiggin that the sun had come out, and it stayed fine until we got back the Hexham!

The Maritime Centre has many exhibits large and small showing the history of this former fishing port and the many wrecks on the neighbouring rocks. The hard life this engendered is well illustrated, and having a very enthusiastic local lad as our guide made it all the more interesting. The old lifeboat (retired 1966) seemed enormous, but the platform alongside it (fully accessible – there’s a lift!) made viewing easy.

After the Centre we walked a short distance along the sea front to the old Rocket House behind the modern Lifeboat Station. Unfortunately, one of our members had a fall here and cut her face badly. After a long phone call an ambulance turned up inside 10 minutes and she was whisked off to Cramlington for cleaning up and stitches. The staff of the Centre were extremely helpful throughout this incident – a big thank you to them.

The Rocket House was in use, pre-pagers, to summon the lifeboat and/or the Coastguards. Rockets were also used to fire a line to ships stranded on the rocks below the cliffs in order to rig a breeches buoy. This house is maintained by volunteers and only opened on occasions, so we were privileged to be allowed in and given a tour.

In the afternoon we had arranged for St Bartholomew’s church on the headland to be open. Like many Northumberland churches it has seen semi-ruin and considerable rebuilding, but contains a wealth of interest, especially a fine collection of medieval grave slabs now built into the internal walls. The large churchyard has many headstones made from local stone. However in this very exposed position many have been eroded in a strange pitted way, some to the extent they became so thin they cracked in half! The church is clearly much loved and used and it was good to see in in such good repair. Our thanks go to the Churchwardens for their warm welcome.

 New resources in Hexham Library

Northumberland Libraries are delighted to announce that you can now access the 1921 census from our library computers – for free! The 1921 Census is available through Findmypast and you will be able to explore to your heart’s content.

The 1921 Census gives a wonderful snapshot of life at that time with the details of over 38 million people on record. You can find out where your relatives lived, who they lived with, their age, marital status, where they were born, employment details and so much more.

Why is this census so important? The 1921 census will be the last to be released for the next 30 years as the 1931 census was destroyed in a fire and the 1941 census was cancelled due to the Second World War.

For the first time you will be able to see relatives you may have known on the census. As with previous census forms, the details will have been written by a relative too which is always good to see. Aside from the typical details required on a census form, the 1921 census added new features. Divorce could now be entered as an option under marital status by filling in a “D”. Another rather poignant addition, considering the timing of this census, was children under 15 could enter whether their mother, father, or both were dead. While previous censuses asked for occupation only, this census asked for name of employer and place of work too. Since 1919, women were allowed to enter professional occupations so it will be interesting to see this change on the census. The RAF were included on this census so family members stationed overseas can be found.

The 1921 census was delayed because of industrial action at the time. The census was originally set to take place on 24 April but a coal miners’ strike, due to wage reductions and mines being returned to private hands after the war, resulted in the census being delayed until 19 June. The census was taken for England, Scotland and Wales but not Ireland because of the ongoing Irish War of Independence which began in 1919. The census will also reveal a marked change in demographics; not only the extreme losses from the First World War and the Spanish Flu, but the post-war baby boom will be evident too.

 Northumberland Archives Manorial documents project     Ian Hancock

In 2018 Northumberland Archives completed the revision of the Manorial Documents Register for the pre-1974 county of Northumberland. There is now a very useful map of the locations of all the manors which the study identified on the Northumberland Archives website at

Subsequently NA obtained a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant to promote knowledge and use of these documents and six local groups, one based on HLHS, are engaged in transcribing core groups of documents that exemplify the kind of material available, for several manors. Two groups, HLHS and an Allendale group, are working with the Hexham Manor Court records.

Ten members of HLHS began work in April on the “Surrenders into Court” documents for Hexham. These record sales, exchanges and mortgages of copyhold land and buildings and are full of information about family relationships, property ownership, and the detailed locations of property. Beth Elliott, the project coordinator, has set up an effective online system using Google Drive, through which she gives access to photographs of the documents, for pairs of transcribers to work on to produce an agreed final version. So far about 40 documents have been completed from the period 1813-18. These were chosen to provide inexperienced transcribers with “easy to read” material (which it mostly is). Workshops to introduce more “difficult” earlier documents are planned for this autumn.

A programme of workshops for the general public is also planned, and I’ll put this on the HLHS website when it is finalised.

Eventually, use of the records will be encouraged through a travelling exhibition and a programme of talks across Northumberland. Northumberland Archives will produce a series of guides, based on the transcription work, to manorial documents in both physical and digital formats

 Transcribing Hexham’s Parish Records – and what I found there     Rob Venus

I’ve been transcribing Parish records for Durham Records Online for the past year. Although I’m originally from Gateshead, I now live in Cornwall and had been doing some transcribing for a Cornish-based genealogy site for a couple of years. I had used Durham Records Online for quite some time for my personal family research and thought researching North East records would mean much more to me than Cornwall. So, I jumped ship and after a few “bedding-in” projects, I was fortunate enough to have been given responsibility for transcribing Baptisms, Marriages and Burials records in Hexham, St. Andrew parish, mainly in the 18th Century.

There have been some great highlights, such as finding the burial records of some of the people killed in the Hexham Riot of 9th March 1761. Some of the dead came from as far away as Gateshead and included two pregnant women. For a Civil Disturbance that produced far more fatalities than the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester, it’s a mystery why this is so under-reported and outside the public consciousness.

There are the many children of Lancelot Allgood, Esquire, MP and the rest of the Allgood family, who were very prominent in Hexham social life, with their close associations to the Blackett family.

I recently had occasion to ask HLHS if they knew the meaning of an annotation against some burial records around late 1745. A “px” has been written next to the entries of a cluster of burials mainly in December 1745. I asked the same question on a national genealogy Facebook page. Nobody had a definitive answer to the issue. The Facebook replies fell into two categories: the first said that “px” was a reference to Jesus Christ; and the second was that it was a shorthand abbreviation meaning the person died from the Pox (smallpox).

The first explanation made no sense because the annotation only occurred on a relatively small number of entries. Why make reference to Jesus Christ in a few records, but not more? The second explanation was far more believable because the mark appeared in a cluster of records, suggesting it related to an “Event”, such as an outbreak of a disease, that affected a lot of people in a short space of time. The other factor was that a lot of the fatalities were among soldiers, their wives and children. So, this opened up another line of research and I found that the main clue lay in the date of December 1745 – The Jacobite Rebellion.

It seems that the English army under the command of Field Marshall Wade were stationed at Newcastle and on the 16th November 1745 set out en route to Carlisle to take back control of that city and, hopefully, to capture “Bonnie Prince Charlie” on his retreat from Derby. They reached Hexham on the 17th to learn that Carlisle had in fact fallen and was back in the hands of the English, with the Scots retreating back across the border. So, Wade turned back to Newcastle. However, a lot of his troops had died from “a disease” on the way from Newcastle, so those who made it that far and then died were buried at Hexham. The army must have had its share of Camp Followers which would account for the loss of life among wives and children. Wade’s army also had a large contingent of Dutch mercenary troops (and some Swiss soldiers) and there is a record of “Michael Worstel, a Dutch soldier died of the Pox” buried in Hexham on the 17th January 1745 (pre-Gregorian calendar).

Some other items of note are the baptism of Mary Ann Douglas on the 24th July 1835, the daughter of Joseph Douglas who was a guard on the first trains though Hexham station, which opened in March 1835. This was only 14 years after the first meeting took place at the George & Dragon in Yarm to raise the finance for the Stockton & Darlington railway. Then on 23rd August Thomas Mann, a fireman on the railway, had his son Thomas baptised. These two men, although unknown to the general public, were pioneers of the railway industry.

It is also interesting to note that, given the rural nature of the country around Hexham, very few farmers were buried at St. Andrews. But there was a huge cohort of butchers. Furthermore, there were quite a number of innkeepers, maltsters and wine merchants! Some of the more obscure occupations included: “Tranter” – a sort of pedlar who travelled around selling bits and pieces; a “Staffordshire Warehouse Keeper” – probably referring to someone who looked after a warehouse that stocked glassware from the Midlands; and “Skinners” and “Curriers” who dealt with animal hides. In the 18th and 19th centuries there were also quite a few “Excise Officers” – because there is no getting away from the taxman!

Some of the buried were listed as “Papist” (Catholic) as there was no dedicated Catholic church in the area at that time. Also, if they were paupers they would, perhaps, be buried at the expense of the Parish and the record annotated as “unpd” (unpaid burial fees), because people who could afford it would have to pay burial fees, some of which the Church would keep and the rest passed on to that ubiquitous taxman.

In Marriage records, it’s easy to see those that were arranged, because the bride or groom would often come from afar. There are sometimes references to the marriage being reported in the Newcastle Courant, the main newspaper of the time (before the Hexham Courant, which perhaps took its name from the Newcastle one). For example, the Newcastle Courant of 12th March 1757 reported:

Last week was married at Hexham, Mr. Lee, an eminent surgeon in that place, to Miss Betty Roberts, fourth daughter of Nicholas Roberts, Esq., a very agreeable young lady with a handsome fortune.

Some of the abodes mentioned in old records still exist and have fascinating names like Coastley, Summerod Riggs, Yarridge, Nubbuck, the Birks, Clay Walls, etc. and who doesn’t love Spittle Sheel?

It may sound like a bit of self-promotion (that’s because it is!) but anyone researching family history for ancestors in the North East, should have Durham Records Online as their first choice of search engine. Not only do you get the basic records (over 4 million of them!) for Censuses, Baptisms, Marriages and Burials , but often there is added value where we have found a tale to go along with the record and bring it to life.

 Recording St Nick’s      Fiona Riach

A project has been started to research the stories behind all the monuments in Newcastle’s St Nicolas’ Cathedral. This newsletter may arrive too late but any volunteers are invited to a briefing session at the cathedral at 2.30pm on October 5th. If you can’t make that but might like to get involved, please contact Fiona at or call her on 0191 241 4704.

 Can anyone help?

Evie Anderson is hoping someone can identify either the church or the individuals in this picture, taken by a Hexham photographer around 1900 but found at a car boot sale in Angus.

 Book review    Hugh Dixon

Collins, Rob et al. Fabric of the Frontier: prospection, use, and re-use of stone from Hadrian’s Wall (Oxbow Books, 2023) ISBN hdbk 9781789259506 E-book ISBN 9781789259513 £50.00

This handsomely-produced book will be useful and probably surprising to those interested in the Roman Wall and the land from which it was created. It is the result of research undertaken as part of the Hadrian’s Wall Community Archaeological Project (WallCAP) which lasted from 2019 to 2022. Buoyed by unwavering support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and local enthusiasm, the project embraced many aims and interests, generated over 300 activities and events, and weathered the global pandemic. Not least it gave training to dozens of volunteers who contributed to its clear aims: to increase knowledge of Hadrian’s Wall; to recognise and reduce the Wall’s vulnerabilities; and to encourage people to become more engaged with the Wall.

One of several publications generated by WallCAP, this deals with two of the project’s entwined strands, both set against the broadest geological background. ‘Heritage at Risk’ work gathered data on stone types, sizes, building methods and conservation concerns along the Wall. The ‘Stone Sourcing and Disposal’ element involved selected specialist studies which show very clearly the challenges of tracking stone from quarry to Wall and then re-use.

Archaeologists and geologists often work together but the scope of this interdisciplinary study in both time and territory is (using words carefully) ground-breaking. One of the three authors is a geologist, with experience of involving communities; the other two are archaeologists, one an authority on the Wall’s material culture and the other an expert on quarries in the area. The resulting synthesis is not limited to the Wall era but ‘takes a much wider arc of time… exploring the fabrics of the Wall not only as man-made artefacts but as naturally formed geological material.’

Chapters deal with the geology of the Wall; the use of stone along the Wall; Roman quarries and stone-working in the Wall corridor; and post-Roman use of Wall fabric. These precede detailed case studies with technical analysis. Much of this is contained in a gazetteer of research at over a hundred sites. Help for the general reader comes from a sensible glossary which includes, perhaps to the surprise of amateurs, such precise definitions as: Boulder: A Type of sedimentary clast which is greater than 256mm in diameter. A very comprehensive bibliography (180 works over two centuries) is a useful reference in itself.

The study is profusely illustrated with figures, tables and photographs. Reconstruction illustrations by Matilde Grimaldi are particularly effective, matter-of-fact depictions refreshingly untainted by recently fashionable cartoon exaggeration. The whole process of winning building stone is covered: quarries and surface extrusions, advantages of natural faults; use of wedges, levers and lewis holes; and transport by carting and floating.

Making the project manageable the frontier is limited to about a mile from the Wall line. So Hexham Abbey is included only as an example of the re-use of Roman fabric not from the Wall. So there is much scope to extend this effective system and surely further surveys will follow.

 Book review    John Colquhoun

Matthews, John Passenger trains in the North of England (Pen & Sword Transport, 2023) ISBN 9781399094801 £20.00

Coming from Newcastle, I would question the inclusion of Cheshire and Derbyshire in a book on Northern England, but the former does permit photos of the busy railway town of Crewe and the latter permits some particularly good photos from the Peak District. One omission I genuinely don’t understand is East Yorkshire, which I would say would warrant a chapter too. Perhaps there were simply not the photos available to the author, though personally I’d have liked an explanation in the Introduction. There is a selection of North-East photos near the end of the book with several from the Tyne Valley line amongst them. I also spotted at least one of the Cumbrian end of the Tyne Valley line in the Cumbria chapter.

So, this isn’t a book for those who are only interested in the North-East and, as the title suggests, it’s not a book for those interested in one very specific time period. For me though, that is the book’s best feature. You never know what photos are going to come next. The images are very varied and cover a wide variety of time periods and landscapes. There are some modern scenes but also some from locations that no longer have railways. There are also some 21st century pictures of mainline steam but, due to their being in black and white, could have been taken many decades earlier.

Whilst colour has its advantages, I personally found the black and white photos very impressive, in some cases dramatic and certainly atmospheric. There are some well-known names in railway photography who have supplied images for the book and the quality of the photographs is high. I’ve only seen a pre-print copy in PDF format, but if the final version is up to publisher Pen & Sword’s usual standards, it will have a very high-quality finish.

Captions are detailed, nicely describing the scenario at the time of each photo. Some non-rail enthusiasts might find them slightly too technical, but I would definitely say this book is accessible to those with a more general interest. Overall, I enjoyed reading this book.

 New Publications – Please note this is a notification and not a review

Owen, S F LNER, 1923-1947: a Centenary celebration, memories of people, locomotives & trains (Bellingham Heritage Centre, 2023) ISBN 9781916354548 £7.50

Produced to accompany the Heritage Centre’s display, this profusely-illustrated 48pp booklet is a fascinating collection of images and memories of people who worked and travelled on the line, both the main line and the Border Counties branch. Available from the Heritage Centre.

 And Finally

We have been given what appears to be a lump of sealing wax. Presumably, it originally read Newcastle & Hexham – does anyone have any ideas as to which institution or company may have used it to seal their correspondance? The Catholic Diocese has been ruled out as this would be Hexham & Newcastle, and we have yet to find a bank or similar company with this in their name.