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The next meeting of NDFHS Durham-Belmont Branch will be at Belmont Community Centre in Gilesgate, Durham, on Wednesday 20th January 2016 at 1.00 pm.  The meeting will commence with the Branch AGM, followed by a talk by guest speaker John Eden on "Electoral Rolls".
The next meeting of NDFHS Blyth Branch will be at the Briardale Community Centre in Blyth on Tuesday 19th January 2016 at 7.30 pm.  There is no guest speaker on this occasion and the meeting will be a members' discussion and research night.
Alnwick Branch / Alnwick Branch 2016 Meetings
« Last post by Pat Pierpoint - Publicity Officer NDFHS on January 11, 2016, 11:33:51 AM »
Please note there are no meetings of our NDFHS Alnwick Branch in January and February 2016, mainly due to the reluctance of speakers and members to travel in bad weather on winter evenings.  The next meeting will be on Tuesday 1st March, at Bailiffgate Museum at 7.30 pm.  It will feature a talk by Daniel Watkins on "The Amazing Percy Family History".
North Northumberland Branch / January Meeting:Using newspapers for Family History
« Last post by Vglass on January 06, 2016, 04:53:18 PM »
Our next meeting is Sat 16 Jan 10am at Bell View, Belford. We will be looking at how newspapers can help withFamily History. It,s surprising how often ancestors who led ordinary lives appear in print. Now that we can access digitised newspapers so easily, it is not always ne essay to trawl manually through those Microfilms of the Berwick advertiser which can be difficult to read.

We are hoping for some exciting finds at this meeting!

If. You hVe been meaning to come along to one of our meetings but not yet made it, start off  2016 by putting this date in your diary now! If you come at 9.45 you can have a coffee and chat beforehand!

Bell View is on West St opposite the War Memorial and has a car park and  lift.
« Last post by VAJ on December 22, 2015, 05:38:53 AM »
Thanks for posting this report, being in NZ I cant attend meetings but am interested in hearing about them...this one sounds particularly interesting !!!  Victoria
South Tyneside Branch / South Tyneside December 2015 Meeting Report
« Last post by Annf on December 17, 2015, 06:37:03 PM »
Members attended the meeting held on the 9th December when the speaker was Anthea Lang, who gave her customary informative and comprehensive presentation entitled 'Life on the Home Front during WW1'.

Some of the features included in the talk were the formation of local battalions such as the Northumberland Fusiliers Tyneside Scottish and Irish, and the DLI Gateshead battalion; the influx of Belgium refugees into our area; and also how women took over occupations previously undertaken by men, e.g. tram conductors, firemen and even the formation of women's football teams.  Anthea went on to discuss zeppelin raids, with particular reference to Palmers Yard in Jarrow, and how the sinking of the Lusitania was instrumental in arousing feelings, which in turn lead to attacks on German run pork butcher shops.

The Branch meetings are held on the 3rd Wednesday each month in the Visitors Centre, St Hildas Church, South Shields, at the new time of 1.30 pm.  The January 2016 meeting will be a forum on the theme 'Childhood Memories of Christmas', and members are asked to bring along an applicable memento which they would like to talk about.  All members and guests are welcome to attend the meeting, which is usually followed by afternoon 'tea' at the Customs House.
Tynedale Branch / Report of Tynedale Dec 2015 meeting
« Last post by Susanne on December 14, 2015, 07:16:38 PM »
Meeting 10 December 2015:   14 members attended
Xmas meeting.
Glenice Reed and Christine Hanley    Poppy installations and other histoical sites
Glenice and Christine provided a fascinating look at memorial displays and installations around the country with particular links to both World Wars.  They started with the field of ceramic poppies in the moat of the Tower of London. Each poppy represented a life lost in the 14-18 conflict. While most of the poppies spread out along the floor of the moat there were two higher displays.  A wave of poppies surged up the wall.  When the London display ceased this section was taken up to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, south of Wakefield.  (Incidentally there is a Tynedale link, as this is in the grounds of Bretton Hall, once the home of the Blackett Beaumonts who owned Dukesfield.)  The Wave was installed with the base in the lower lake, with the wave reaching up and onto the bridge where people could touch the highest red metal flowers.  The other high level display was called the Weeping Window in London but when it was brought up to Woodhorn it cascaded down from the top of the pit winding tower, creating a link with all the miners. 
After a brief look at Northumberlandia, the second part of the presentation covered many of the memorial statues and fixtures at the Westonbirt Arboretum.  This is a huge site and a day is hardly sufficient to see all the memorials.  These cover practically every organisation or group who had any part in the 20th and 21st century conflicts from WW1 to Iraq. There were many specifically Army, Navy and Air Force sections and units eg Green Howards, Fleet Air Arm and the Medical Corps but also, Queen Alexandra’s Nursing Corps, TocH, the British Legion and the Railway Industry to name but a few.  The memorial set up in Basra was relocated to the Arboretum when the British troops left Iraq in recent years.
After the pictures, the members enjoyed a buffet of goodies which everyone had contributed, along with wine, Valerie’s special non-alcoholic delicious punch and tea or coffee according to taste (and driving duties).
« Last post by Vglass on December 06, 2015, 12:21:37 PM »

We welcomed back as speaker Tony Barrow on the subject of  Smuggling. Tony explained that Assize Records and Newspaper Reports had proved valuable in this research. Sadly no records from Berwick Customs House have survived although those from Tyneside and County Durham have.

Customs duty was introduced as early as 1275 by Edward 1, initially for wool, then also for wine. As this increased the price of  the product  it inevitably resulted in attempts to avoid its payment . The origin of the word “smuggle” appears to be from “smokkelen” (Dutch) meaning to transport goods illegally.  Later developments were dues and embargoes increasing the price of raw materials including alcohol, tea, tobacco, salt and coal.

Smuggling gangs were highly organised, sometimes consisting of up to 50 men. They were very common in the south-west, aided by the rugged coastline with its small hidden coves. Fast easily-manoeuvrable coats were need by smugglers such as cutters and small schooners.

In 1764 tea worth £7 million was smuggled into the country by ships of the honourable East Indian Company – a surprising statistic! In the North-east Dutch gin was a significant item in the smuggling business, closely followed by rum, brandy, tobacco and tea. It was possible to purchase smuggled gin at a low price and resell it at a price still lower than the legal price.

Tony explained how the parliamentary Hovering Acts meant that ships hovering within 6 miles of the coast could be legally seized and the men involved could be transported. In 1736 the death penalty was introduced for the crime of armed resistance to Customs Officers. By 1774 government boats were patrolling the coast between Berwick and Flamborough. Often the authorities were fighting a losing battle. For example, Redcar had only 2 officers and a handful of boatmen to police its shores. At that time the Cleveland coast was a wild and deserted place before the town of Middlesborough was built. Stockton Church was still visible from the sea at that time and so was used by smugglers  for navigation.  Smugglers acquired a reputation for violence with frequent assaults against officers. A ship at Redcar in 1780 was discovered to have 24 guns with up to 80 armed men on board. Widow Potts of Redcar must have felt confident enough to take part in the smuggling trade in 1775 when 4o lbs tea was discovered concealed in her house.

In 1763 the cutter Elizabeth on a voyage from Rotterdam to Stockton was driven ashore at Saltburn after landing its booty of spirits. The ship’s Master, Thomas Dawson, was arrested
 And the vessel impounded. It proved impossible to salvage it so it was burnt, with an armed guard required during the process.

Naturally, smugglers had their own “tricks of the trade”. They made good use of caves for hiding goods. At other times they buried goods on the beach for collection later.

In the North-East coal became subject to export duty, whilst this was exempt for coastal voyages. The number of vessels “forced overseas” by poor weather was surprisingly large! At Hartlepool and Sunderland this was a frequent occurrence. One notable example was a ship bound for Falmouth which ended up in Marseilles!

This area saw regular smuggling at Cullercoats, Boulmer, Beadnell and Holy Island, with vast quantities of brandy and rum brought ashore. The Fishing Boat Inn at Boulmer was an active partner in smuggling with the co-operation of the landlord. The inhabitants of Boulmer were described as “the men are lazy drunkards, the women profligate and the children ragged and uneducated”.  The village was associated with Salters Roads after the introduction of duty on salt. Kirk Yetholm acquired a notorious reputation for its connections with smuggling.

Smuggling gangs became so well-organised that they eventually had their own solicitors to fight their cases in court.

When did smuggling begin its decline? Free Trade reduced its profitability after the 1840’s when duties were removed. Rising wages and changes in consumption reduced the demand for smuggled goods. However, it continued longer in Coquetdale with the smuggling of whiskey over the border.

These days smuggling makes us think of the dangerous business of smuggling drugs and people. It was interesting to be reminded of the days when it took quite a different form.

Tony ended his illuminating talk by drawing our attention to the potential for further research of this topic especially in the ports of North Northumberland. Perhaps this will whet the appetite of one of our members!
Topics and Speakers for 2016 are as follows:-
Wed 06 January - Branch AGM
Wed 03 February - "Jacobites" (Liz Finch)
Wed 02 March - "Stannington Sanatorium" (Dr Liz O'Donnell)
Wed 06 April - Members' Forum: "My Eccentric Ancestor"
Wed 04 May - "Northumberland Fishing Heritage" (Tony Barrow)
Wed 01 June - "'Wellesley' Training Ship" (Andrew Clark)
Wed 06 July - "Killingworth" (Rob Mitchelson)
No meeting in August (Summer Break)
Wed 07 September - "Thomas Hepburn" (Anthea Lang)
Wed 05 October - "Paddy Freeman Remembered" (Joyce Jackman)
Wed 02 November - "More to a needle than meets the eye" (Barry Mead)
Wed 07 December - Christmas Quiz

South Tyneside Branch / South Tyneside November Meeting Report
« Last post by Annf on November 30, 2015, 02:05:25 PM »
At the meeting held on the 18th November, Linda King gave an interesting and enlightening talk entitled 'North East Customs and Superstitions'.  Commencing with the more sombre aspect of customs associated with murder, death and burials in the Victorian era, Linda then moved on to a happier note with marriages and births as well as children at play.

The members in attendance not only learnt the origins of some of the well known superstitions we all grew up with, but were also introduced to others which are less familiar; the subject being a point of discussion over tea and scones after the meeting.

The next meeting of the Branch will be held at 1.30 pm on Wednesday 9th December, at St Hilda's Visitors Centre, South Shields, when the speaker is Anthea Lang who will give a presentation on 'Life on the Home Front on Tyneside in WW1'  All welcome.
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