Alarmed by the embellishment

It is somewhat akin to '˜journalistic licence' and should be rectified in the interests of accuracy. I refer, of course, to Berwick's uniquely historical past; the situation read about and personally experienced has many holidaymakers and locals alike bewildered, to say the least.

Monday, 18th September 2017, 09:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 27th September 2017, 10:36 am

Reference was made recently during ‘Heritage Week’ to “The Old Coastguard Station”. History buffs somewhat ‘boycotted’ the tour of the establishment as many recognised the building as being a former site of a cow shelter for animals owned by local farmer Mr A. Veitch, who had permission to graze his cattle along the now Magdalene Fields Golf Club.

Yes, HM Coastguard had a housing station nearby in Devon Terrace, but all Bad Weather Watches (BWW) and other Thick Weather Watches (TWW) were kept, especially at night, from Sharper Head, which had a direct telephone link to the housing station in Devon Terrace for advising if or not the South or North gale-warning cone had to be hoisted so as to warn mariners.

Local man Bill Taylor confirmed this as it was on our cross-country run twice weekly when we attended Bell Tower School. The late Mr Walter Scott and G.S. Adams ensured we all completed the run without any skiving.

Old district officer ‘Robbie’ Roberton lived in house number 4, John ‘Jack’ Gourdie, his wife and two sons lived in house three, whilst coastguard Frank F. Foale, his wife and sons Leslie and Christopher lived in number two. Station officer Francis Vernon Day, his wife and son lived in house number one, which contained a small ‘Duty Room’ in emergencies.

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Amongst the supplementary watchers (auxiliary coastguards) were William ‘Bill’ Riley, Harry Dempster, George ‘Dod’ Thompson, and myself.

Our boss was district officer S. Harbottle from nearby Seahouses, who had a habit of appearing without prior notice at night to ensure we were awake and alert. He put the fear of J.C. into us all by his sudden appearances for all we had as ‘defence’ was a Verey gun for flares, an Aldis lamp for signalling, and a small pail of water should nature pay a call.

Mr Eric Musson, formerly of Tyne Tees and late Dover Straits, would be appalled at such inaccuracies, as indeed many others are.

The situation is so bad, we the indigenous Berwickers can only shake our heads in utter awe as it appears that a town so steeped in history is being literally embellished beyond belief.

Eric Allen

Berwick-upon-Tweed