Alnham

ALNHAM  (Northumberland)
 
Birthplace of the late Mr Adam Scott, who trained many winners here, including Jazz Band, winner of the 1924 Northumberland Plate.  He started to own a few ‘chasers in 1898, became one of the best amateur riders in the North, bred bloodstock, was mainly interested in National Hunt sport, and met his death 31st March, 1925, when riding his own horse, Command, at Kelso in a ‘chase.  He was buried in his racing colours – light blue, maroon cap.  The late Mr Scott often told me that his district has always had racing of some sort and that his love for it was bred in him as part of the tradition of the Border hill country in which he lived.   Some years before his death,  when I was staying with him to judge at Hexham Races, he gave me the following notes regarding “racing for the spurs” in the Alnham locality : 
            “12th June, 1840.  Married at Alnham Church, William, second son of Michael Thompson, long shepherd and topsman, to Adam Atkinson, Esq., of Lorbottle House, to Ann, third daughter of William Taylor, head shepherd to the late Mr Crisp, of Prendwick, and then holding the same situation under his nephew, Mr. H. Crisp.  Mr. Crisp regaled the bridal party, consisting of upwards of twenty couples to breakfast, and after the ceremony, a keenly contested race for the ‘spurs’ took place, from the church to the bridegroom’s house, which was won in grand style, by a lady, although matched by some of the most celebrated sportsmen of the county.” (From Fordyce’s Local Records.)

To this a contemporary writer added :           
“As a great number of the competitors in the race for the spurs at this wedding were hill shepherds, many of whom did not possess a horse, and therefore had to borrow, the whole countryside was scoured for mounts.  Mr Ogle, then farmer at the Follions, having a ‘mistetched’ Thoroughbred mare, Nicholas Maughan, serving man with Michael Thompson, secured her as likely to win the ‘spurs’ if properly ridden.  Mounting at Prendwick, where the cavalcade met, and when en route for the church, several of the party set off at full gallop to the rendezvous, Mr. Stephen Atkinson’s at Alnham – where the quadrupeds had to be stabled during the ceremony – Nicholas and the Thoroughbred leading the van, but Nicholas not being quite so much at home on the ‘pig-skin’ as on his native heath, turned at too sharp an angle when entering the stable yard gateway, ran foul of the ‘sneck’ and ripped the mare’s shoulder open.  Nothing daunted, he still persisted in the race, but this unfortunate accident had lost him all chance of winning the ‘spurs’.  At Alnham a large concourse of people were assembled to witness the ceremony, attended with the usual contingent of ‘hempy’ boys, who first looked after the horses and then after the pennies when they were ‘scammelled’ at the church door.  The wedding party, having remounted their steeds, the bride on a ‘pillion’ behind the bridegroom, away they went ‘helter-skelter’ over Prendwick Hill – through the flat, by the ‘Cross’, past Cobden Old Walls, and when Alnham Moor hove in sight the party was welcomed by the good dame and her assistants with a hearty cheer and the firing of guns.”