Glimpse the past through old images of Morpeth, in the English county of Northumberland.
Whether its town name originally meant path through the moor or murder path, the ancient motto of Morpeth appropriately translated as “Living among woods and waters”. The pretty market town’s historic streets and buildings have faced a fair amount of challenges over the years.
A Brief Look at Morpeth’s History
This is a detailed, yet concise, trailer about the history of Morpeth, created to promote the Northern Heritage DVD about the ancient market town.
A Portrait of Morpeth through the Ages – Bygone Morpeth Temple Collection: Northernheritage (YouTube)
Newgate Street Today & Yesteryear
See how much has changed over time in Newgate Street.
Morpeth past and present: MorpethNewsTV (YouTube)
1929 Morpeth to Newcastle Race
In 1929, for the third time, Duncan McCloud Wright won the Morpeth to Newcastle race.
21st Race From Morpeth To Newcastle Aka 21st Race From Monpeth To Newcastle (1929): British Pathé (YouTube)
Morpeth 1931: The Riding Of The Boundaries
The Riding of the Boundaries is a historic tradition set in the Northumberland town of Morpeth. Back in 1931, British Pathé were there to record the event, filmed in sound for the very first time.
In the days before maps and the Land Registry, Riding the Boundaries was a practical way to remind everyone where the boundaries of land ownership were set, as well as an opportunity to check the condition of boundary ditches. Over time, the tradition became increasingly rare.
The ceremonies begin with a man on horseback addressing the small crowd of spectators. He’s explaining the ancient origins of ‘Beating the Bounds’.
In the background, you can see people wandering about, including a workman pushing a loaded wooden wheelbarrow, an old fashioned pram, and several bicycles. Two police officers also stand in the crowd.
Next comes the procession, led by a Scottish marching band. Note the presence of Scottish bagpipes, rather than the Northumbrian smallpipes used for leading the procession for the Alnwick Shrovetide Football Match.
There are several dozen horses, all ridden by men. The Streets are lined with men, women and children, who have turned out for this annual event.
Full title reads: “Morpeth, Northumberland. ‘Riding the Boundaries’ – whose origin is lost in antiquity, filmed in sound for first time.”
Where Else Is This Tradition Found?
Berwick-upon-Tweed is another Northumberland town, located close to the Scottish border. Each summer it hosts Riding of the Bounds, a similar event to Morpeth’s Riding of the Boundaries.
Berwick’s 409th Riding of the Bounds took place on 5th May 2018, starting at 9.15am and ending around 3pm.
It’s many years since Berwick saw its 15 mile boundaries ridden by the town’s garrison. Instead, the procession is open to anyone who wishes to take part.
Other elements of the tradition are still in place. They include the decorating of the horses with ribbons and a meal afterwards for participants. There’s also a race at Canty’s Bridge, which started to commemorate the crossing of the Border by Margaret Tudor on her way to be married to James IV of Scotland in 1502.
Morpeth to Newcastle Race (1934)
Filming of the 1934 race won by Dunan McCloud Wright (again) began at Morpeth’s Castle Bank bridge over the River Wansbeck.
A Great Record (1934): British Pathé (YouTube)
Laszlo Torday’s Photos
Early in the Second World War, Laszlo Torday left Hungary and arrived in Tynemouth in January 1940. He took a great deal of photographs of North East England, especially during the 1960s and 1970s.
I’ve colorized two of the photos Laszlo took in Morpeth in 1961.
Loansdean in 1968
The official opening of the Headquarters and Fire Station at Loansdean. About four minutes in there’s an arial shot above the buildings and part of the town.
After that the footage moves to the Westland Whirlwind Helicopters of 202 Squadron at RAF Acklington, which is now a prison. Then the Blyth lifeboat crew are on exercise.
Northumberland County Fire Brigade (Opening of Loansdean Morpeth 1968 Part 2): Neil Stalker
Morpeth’s 2008 Flood
Morpeth’s flood in 2008 means the market town is now a regular attraction for North East England’s Geography field trips. The event was even mentioned in the AQA A2 Geography exam booklet.
The flood waters caused so much damage to homes, businesses and lives, that many millions of pounds were later invested in new flood defences.
BBC Inside out-Morpeth Floods-HD: Bob Murphy (YouTube)
Another Loss on the High Street
In December 2016, Christine and Michael Ogle closed their family business, which had been trading for about 120 years.
Final day for one of Morpeth’s oldest shops: MorpethNewsTV (YouTube)
Drone Footage 2018
OK, so this footage is from 2018 which isn’t long ago. But it has lovely views of this pretty Northumberland town and its amazing old structures from the unusual advantage of the air.
Morpeth Northumberland: Wild Wannie Outdoors
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