I knew it was not a very nice place to be incarcerated. When my uncle, Howell Arthur Banister, was sent there by his aunt when his father married the Matron, his life was hell! He would often tell me that his father treated him as one of the "bad lads", as they were known called.
His first school was in Morpeth and from the age of five years, he was made to walk to and from school alone. On good days the local doctor out with his pony and trap, would see Arthur and give him a lift whichever way he went.
His step mother was always referred to as Mrs Banister. From what I was lead to believe was that she was not pleased when her stepson went to live there. Sme may have been Matron, but was not particularly nice to anyone.
one youngArthur found a wounded owl in one of the fields nextto Nettherton, and took it home hoping he would be able to save it's life. He was unable to do so and his father decided that Arthur was so distraught, that he sent the owl to the taxidermists to have it stuffed!
When he was sent to boarding school, at Trent College would often spend part of his holidays with the aunt, hwho had brought him up after the passing of his mother. He wrote to his father one day, begging if hr could have some money to buy more food. He was that hungry. True to form, his father treated him as a badlad. He sent Arthur no money. What he did do was send his only child's letter to the Headmaster at Trent College! The letter wasn't written as Arthur was insufficiently fed, but to let the school see what a disgrace his son was to say he was hungry. After that he was treated at Trent, he same way as he was at Netherton.
I remember the Deputy Heads wife and daughter. They lived in one of the little bungalows on the driveway to school. They told me just how tough things were at Netherton. I can't imagine just how bad life must have been for those boys.
The one thing Arthur was gratefull to his father for was that he was taught to play not a piano but the organ. Amongst the many churches he played was St Anne's in Newcastle and upon his retirement to Allenheads, when he became organist at St Cuthbert's Church in Allendale. A position he held until his death in the suumer of 1985.
Inthe 1960's Arthur handed all of the paperwork of his father's to the archives, which I believe was in Gosforth.