OIL CRISIS: Rural families were being held over a barrel by oil distributors, it was claimed, as temperatures plummeted to -18 degrees and the price of heating oil rocketed.

TOTAL FLUKE: Five youngsters were hailed as heroes after rescuing Fluke the two-year-old terrier, who had plunged through the ice on the frozen Tyne at Hexham's Tyne Green.

MONEY SHOT: Haltwhistle was posed for a £340 million shot in the arm aimed at making the South Tyne capital a must-see destination for tourists, with plans to create a multi-million visitor attraction close to the town.


TRAGIC FIRE: Despite valiant efforts by friends and neighbours to save her, 87-year-old Peggy Bell - who was probably Tynedale's oldest shopkeeper - died in a fire at her premises in Bellingham during the early hours of Boxing day.

HOUSING ROW: Controversial plans to build four homes in Stocksfield for people with learning disabilities caused a huge row. The director of social work for Dumfries and Galloway Council circulated a letter that described Stocksfield residents as "bigoted hypocrites," before likening them to "medieval witch hunters, Nazi death camp commanders, Serbian ethnic cleansers and South African hate squads."

BRIDGE BATTLE: Tynedale district councillors slammed the closure of Eastgate Bridge, between Hexham Middle School and the street.


RECORD NUMBERS: Hexham shoppers spent a record amount on Christmas presents 25 years ago. Ties, tobacco, typewriters, knitwear, and copies of "Housewife Hot" - apparently a book about Northumbrian place-names - were reported to have sold particularly well.

INFANT PRIZE: A bonny baby contest, held by Haltwhistle, Greenhead and District Co-operative society was won by Julie Hind of Westlands, Haltwhistle. Julie was presented with a cup for coming first in this competition by then Newcastle United star Bryan 'Pop' Robson.

PUBLIC INCONVENIENCE: Haltwhistle residents drew up a petition objecting to plans to build a public toilet block in the town's Black Bull Lane.

EUROPEAN DEBATE: Any increase in food prices brought about by Britain entering the common market would be more than offset buy increased productivity and wages, Hexham MP Geoffrey Rippon, also the Government's chief Euro-negotiator, reported.


MARINERS' BOOST: Allendale Seamen's Rest Home was given a £1,500 grant by the King George's fund for Sailors.

SALE SUCCESS: A gift sale held at Wark Town Hall by the village's Scouts and Guides raised £63 for their youth centre and children's Christmas party funds.


FESTIVE EVENT: Corbridge Literary Association marked the arrival of the festive season by holding a reciatl of "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens.

WART TALK: Wylam and District Horticultural Soceity was given a talk on potato wart disease by a speaker from the then Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.


YULETIDE FUND-RISER: A sale of work held by Acomb's Methodists raised £27 for the chapel repair fund.


MANURE DINNER: The local customers of Messrs S Langdale and Co, the well known manure manufacturers of Newcastle, were entertained to a "splendid" repast at the Grey Bull Inn in Hexham to mark their annual pay day.

WEEKLY PAPER: The Courant revealed that it would be discontinued as a bi-weekly publication after the following Saturday, and would be issued each Saturday "in a greatly improved form."

FOSSILS DISCOVERED: Mr T.P Barkas obtained from the Northumberland coal measures - a rich store of fossils - the tooth of an absolutely new fish, unlike the teeth of any known genus.

SAD ACCIDENT: An inquiry was held at the Fox and Hounds Inn, Woodside, into the death of William Anderson at Slaley. The 52-year-old fell from his horse while crossing Devil's Water and drowned. It was resolved to lengthen the rail of the bridge to prevent a similar accident in the future.

HEXHAM POLICE: A tramp named John Williams was committed to Morpeth gaol for a month for begging in Wark. William Mclaughlan, a chimney sweep, was charged with stealing a cloth cap, a muffler, and a tin bottle valued at 2s 6d - the property of George Besford, a pitman at Birtley. No further evidence was brought and the case was discharged - but later in the day he was taken into custody again, charged with stealing a coat, value 5s. He was apprehended wearing the stolen coat.