HIGHWAYS AND BYWAYS OF NORTHUMBERLAND: THE GREAT NORTH ROAD, by Ian Hall. Published by Wanney Books (www.wildsofwanney.co.uk). £4.50. Softback.

EXPLORING the old route of the Great North Road from the Tyne to the Tweed, this book evokes a past age when people had time to stop and look around while they travelled. A coach timetable of 1833 for the London to Edinburgh service records that the journey between Newcastle and Berwick, including a 30-minute stopover at Belford, took almost seven hours.

The author follows the road’s older and quieter sections that can still be travelled today and describes various sights along the route which have become hidden as the A1 has been upgraded, including Cale Cross at Blagdon and Scremerston mine near Berwick.


STORIES BEHIND THE GLASS, by Richard Busby. Available from St Andrew’s Church, Corbridge and Forum Books. £9.99 (all proceeds from sales will be donated to the church). Softback.

THE result of two years’ research by the author, this book records not only the stained glass windows of St Andrew’s Church but also the people and families they commemorate. These include Philip George Gipps, who died after falling from a roof in Australia in 1884, and Elizabeth Gray, who died suddenly during a service in the church in 1930.

The fine glass of the east window of the church, made by noted Newcastle glassmaker William Wailes, is dedicated to the memory of Hannah Eliza, wife of John Grey of Dilston Hall, who died in 1860. Of their 10 surviving children, the most famous was Josephine Elizabeth, who died in 1906 and is best remembered as the social and women’s education reformer Josephine Butler.

Others linked to the church’s many 19th and 20th century stained glass windows include the Stephens, Edwards and Dixon shipbuilding families, the Reed brewing dynasty and many farming families.

FROM THE FRONT, edited by Belford Hidden History Museum.

FROM THE FRONT, edited by Belford Hidden History Museum. Available from Belford Community Shop (email: boward@hotmail.co.uk). £4. Softback.

ILLUSTRATED with Imperial War Museum archive photographs, this book contains excerpts from letters either sent by soldiers serving on the Western Front in 1914 and 1915 to family and friends in the North East and the Borders, or published in the local press.

The letters reflect the wide range of situations and emotions these young men experienced. One local man who fought in the Battle of Mons, Gunner B. Wiseman, sent a remarkable letter to the Newcastle Journal revealing how his life had been spared by an enemy officer:

“Our battery had fired their last round. The Germans were only 300 yards away. The order was given ‘Retire, every man for himself’. The Germans rushed up and I lay helpless. A German pointed his rifle at me to surrender. I refused, and was just on the point of being put out when a German officer saved me. He said: ‘English man brave fool’. He then dressed my wound, gave me brandy and wine, and left me.”