History Articles - Jack Taylor

For six years I wrote a short history article in the monthly parish magazine, The Pelican.  One of the articles is shown in the column opposite.

Articles can be accessed by clicking on the appropriate title from the index below.

If anyone has any old photographs or parish information which they would like recorded (for present and future generations to share) then please get in touch with me.

    John Davison (Website Co-ordinator)
           Telephone: 01670 760609
      Email: jdavison26@btinternet.com

63   Dec 2011 We'll Weather the Weather
62   Nov 2011 Alan's Ackl'n Appearances
61   Oct 2011 Ackl'n Marriages 1913-14
60   Sep 2011 Old Photographs Required
59   Jul 2011 A Tower With A Tale To Tell
58   Jun 2011 A Well Kept Secret
57   May 2011 Fishy Business
56   Apr 2011 Acklington Warrior Stone
55   Mar 2011 The Church of St John
54   Feb 2011 Deep and Chrisp
53   Dec 2010 For Whom The Bell Tolls
52   Nov 2010 Which Village?
51   Oct 2010 A Pilot's Memories
50   Sep 2010 Acklington Black Poplar
49   Jul 2010 Street Names
48   Jun 2010 RAF Memorial
47   May 2010 Crowning Glory
46   Apr 2010 Badminton Club
45   Mar 2010 Murder On The Train
44   Feb 2010 Guyzance Tragedy
43   Dec 2009 Acklington Park
42   Nov 2009 Dye House (Part 2)
41   Sep 2009 Dye House (Part 1)
40   Jul 2009 History Making Heads
39   Jun 2009 Acklington Main Street
38   May 2009 James Raymond Smith
37   Apr 2009 The Age of Steam Trains
36   Mar 2009 Fred Wilson
35   Feb 2009 Guyzance School
34   Dec 2008 Acklington W.I.
33   Nov 2008 Lych Gate
32   Oct 2008 Village Hall Disaster
31   Sep 2008 Summer Crowds
30   Jul 2008 Spot The Differences
29   Jun 2008 Sunday School
28   May 2008 National Finalist
27   Apr 2008 What's in A Name
26   Mar 2008 Railway Inn
25   Feb 2008 Osprey
24   Dec 2007 The Guyzance 10
23   Nov 2007 Bowls Club
22   Oct 2007 Village Harvest
21   Sep 2007 Wedding Bliss
20   Jun 2007 The Other Acklington Artist
19   May 2007 The La'Well Tree
18   Apr 2007 The German Spy
17   Mar 2007 The Winter of 47
16   Feb 2007 Les Birkett's Memories
15   Jan 2007 Railway Station
14   Dec 2006 Jane Chapman
13   Nov 2006 Witches
12   Oct 2006 Jack Taylor
11   Sep 2006 Black Ralph
10   Aug 2006 School Photographs
09   Jul 2006 Pig Killings
08   Jun 2006 Village Hall Disaster
07   May 2006 Cricketers
06   Apr 2006 On Yer Bike
05   Apr 2006 Cricket
04   Mar 2006 Mailbag Robbery
03   Feb 2006 Storm of 1886
02   Jan 2006 Football
01   Dec 2005 Help Required

My article last month on Ralph Potts (the colourful Acklington blacksmith known as “Black Ralph”) appears to have been of interest to a number of parishioners. Thank you for the positive feedback. By way of a footnote, I have discovered two further interesting facts relating to this character:

• Ralph’s mother was a waif of the sea. She floated ashore, dressed in fine clothes, in her cradle from a ship that went down with all hands on Boulmer Sands. No-one knew her identity or nationality but she grew into a small dark eyed, dark skinned woman. It was said she had magical fingers and could make amazing things with her hands. It appears she had ten children – one, of course, being Ralph Potts.

• Ralph’s wife Rachael died aged 74 and was buried in Acklington churchyard in 1887. Ralph made an iron grave head in her memory and some years later he joined her but of course his name could not be added to the ironwork. This grave head (still proudly standing as shown opposite) is surely the only one of its kind in any churchyard anywhere.

The unique grave head
in Acklington Churchyard

From one outstanding and colourful resident of Acklington to another. This month I would like to pay tribute to 80 year old Jack Taylor who recently had the honour of receiving Alnwick Council’s Chairman’s Civic Award for his tireless community work. Jack is trying to play down the “village hero” tag because he is a modest man and does not like publicity or fuss. He has never sought acclaim or rewards and is a man of deeds rather than words, but his very significant contribution to the community over many years makes him a most worthy recipient of the award. He is very much an unsung hero and everyone in Acklington is delighted that his efforts have been recognized and commended. Pictured below the press cutting is Jack receiving his award from Councillor John Rutherford, Chairman of Alnwick District Council. Well done Jack!


Here are 10 facts (mostly historical) you probably don’t know about Jack Taylor… unless, of course, you are a member of Jack’s family.

1.  Jack has lived all his 80 years in Acklington Village.
2.  Jack went through his whole education without ever missing a day at school or without ever being late. I wonder if anyone else in our parish can say that.
3.  As a young man, and in the days before flushing toilets, Jack cleaned out the smelly earth closet toilets throughout the village. He is pictured opposite going about his “toilet cleaning duties” with his horse and cart. (I am sure you will agree that anyone who serves their community in this way is surely worthy of an award).
4.  Jack went to war at the age of seventeen and as a young soldier he fought on the front line and witnessed many atrocities and harrowing experiences which deeply troubled him and affected his health.
5.  Acklington was renowned for its RAF airfield and is now well known for its prison. Jack worked at both of these institutions and indeed received Her Majesty’s Imperial Service Medal in recognition for his “long and meritorious services”.
6.  Jack has a long and close association with Acklington Church. He has served in many capacities including: choirboy, sidesman, boilerman, grave digger and bell-ringer. Above all he has helped maintain the churchyard for as long as anyone can remember. It used to be grass cutting by scythe (at which Jack was an expert) but now he uses the church mower and, even at 80, he works tirelessly to help keep the churchyard immaculate…. and never accepts a penny for it.
7.  Jack can only see out of one eye. He lost the sight of one of his eyes when a thorn from a hedge he was cutting flew up and pierced him in the eye.
8.  Jack takes a fierce pride in the tidy appearance of the village and can often be seen sweeping footpaths, especially during the autumn time.
9.  In the past Jack has volunteered to keep tidy the gardens of vacant properties in the village until the new occupants moved in.
10.  Jack is very generous and public spirited. He is at his happiest when he is helping someone. It is not uncommon for lucky villagers to find a sack of sticks or a bag of home-grown tomatoes on their doorsteps.

Yes, Jack the “unlikely” lad may not be everyone’s idea of a hero, but people who get themselves really involved in their communities (like Jack Taylor today and Ralph Potts in days gone by) deserve to be recognized. It is to be hoped they inspire others to follow in their footsteps, for in this day and age we could certainly do with more citizens like them.

John Davison
01670 760609