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)
ACKLINGTON HISTORY SLOT
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
The unique grave head
in Acklington Churchyard
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
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
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
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.
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.