Updated: Nov 24, 2021
This is a photograph of PC Sinton, who was attacked and badly injured in 1920.
My latest 'If Trees Could Talk' article was inspired by reading about this cruel attack in Jon Tait's book: Midden Ratcher.
But let me begin at the beginning!
I regularly walk up the bank on Brewery Lane. I always take time to look at the wonderful stand of trees leading up to the first school. I wondered when they had been planted. Measuring some of them, I estimated that they must be about 120 years old.
I decided to look at old maps - I could see them marked on in 1920.
I also often look at the small triangle of land across the road from there. I have wondered, since moving here, why it is there, what its purpose was. No one I asked could tell me, and many folk told me that they had walked past without really noticing it. Not everyone, though, as several other people told me that it was a real eye-sore. I do believe various people have tried to do something with it over the years, but nothing seemed to last.
This is it, before Chris Cann and I spent several hours cutting down the nettles which were waist high. (This was remarkably hard work!). It is now practically cleared, with the immense help of Barry Frost. Thank you Barry! Thanks to Mike Evens for taking stuff away, also.
I started to wonder what the point of the triangle was, why it was that shape, and what was underneath. This map, from 1896, showed me the answers. There was a well underneath the triangle. There were three wells in a row. (Look for the word 'well' on the right, the letter 'W' at the triangle, and the word 'well' on the left).
So in 1896 where the triangle is now, there was a well. By 1920 no well is marked on the map, but a structure appears to be there.
I asked some lovely, knowledgeable, Rothbury friends for help to unravel these mysteries. Peter Dawson, as always, was very generous with his time and information. He told me about the wells in the area, and about the fire engine which used to stand on the triangle. He showed me a photograph, which I was able to purchase a copy of from Ebay:
Here we have Dippie Dixon and others looking at the fire engine, and it is on the triangle of land.
Now a wonderful idea for a Talking Tree article began in my mind. I chose a beautiful beech to get to know. This beech is well placed to see this triangle, and to see The Brewery. (I think, where is now Gregory's Workshop, but am trying to discover for sure, but the beech would see it wherever it had been. If you know anything different, do please get in touch, I would love to get this right). Jon Tait's story about PC Sinton started me thinking a bit more.
I asked another wonderful friend, Mike Todd, if he knew anything about the Brewery, and the robbery. Mike is another generous person, and he shared some newspaper cuttings from the time with me.
I soon realised that the attempted robbery, and attack on PC Sinton, happened the same year as the fire engine photograph. I did a bit of scouting around on the internet and found this film: Watch Fire Engine of 1788 online - BFI Player
I wondered... could that Policeman in the film, could it possibly be PC Sinton?! I asked Peter Dawson, who had not seen the film before. He studied it and confirmed that it was indeed PC Sinton!
My story had all the elements needed. So I wrote it up for the Northumberland Gazette. It is not online yet, but here is how it looks in the actual paper:
I am really pleased with how this has turned out.
The Gazette only allows 900 words. I would like to spend more on this, particularly to investigate why the two Russian Seamen who attacked PC Sinton, were in the North East. (There are quite a few clues from the court report of the time).
There is most definitely a story there, though I do not think it will involve trees!
My gratitude to Jon Tait, to Mike and Peter for reading my drafts, and for sharing their own information.
Rothbury CAN (Climate and Nature) members will be turning this triangle into a lovely place, fit for the history it holds. So do keep watching, when you visit Gregory's Handyman Store, or you are walking up to Addycombe, or the first school.
I am indebted to Andrew Miller for kindly pointing out that the brewery was definitely NOT where I had been told it was. He tells me it was where the Pizza Restaurant now is. It is most unfortunate that I cannot redo the story in the Gazette, but very fortunate that I can amend this blog!
I hope this new information does not take away any of the pleasure of this story - and I am sure we should still be making the triangle of land an attractive place.
I also found this document this morning, which might interest some folk:
Katie Scott November 2021