Alternative History
Duchy of Northumberland
Timeline: 1983: Doomsday

OTL equivalent: Northumberland
Flag Coat of Arms
Flag Coat of Arms
Location of Northumberland
Northumberland in yellow (2012)
(and largest city)
  others Northumbrian, Pitmatic, Cumbric
Demonym Northumberlander
Government Constitutional Monarchy
Duke Ralph George
  Royal house: Percy
Area 9198 km2 (3551 sq mi) km²
Population 136,000 
Established 21st November 1993
Currency Cleveland Pound
For the county in Pennsylvania, see Northumberland County (1983: Doomsday).

Between 1993 and 2016, the county of Northumberland, together with some parts of adjacent counties, was governed as an independent state called the Duchy of Northumberland. It was constituted as a monarchy under the rule of the Percy family, the Dukes of Northumberland. The dukes, in their capacity as Lords Lieutenant of the county, had done much to help in the survival of the region in the aftermath of the Third World War. In 2016, an Act of Union combined Northumberland with the neighboring Kingdom of Cleveland. It now forms part of the Kingdom of Northumbria.



The English counties of Northumberland, Tyne and Wear and Durham are hit by three nuclear explosions:

  • one 200 Kiloton bomb on Newcastle
  • one 200 Kiloton bomb on Sunderland
  • one 100 Kiloton bomb on Durham

Other tactical nuclear weapons (10KT) fell on military bases in and around the area:

  • RAF Boulmer
  • RAF Ouston - shared with British Army
  • The Otterburn training range


The outright death toll was well over one million. However, with the majority of the nuclear explosions taking place in the Tyne and Wear valleys the radioactive fallout from the blasts to the majority of the Northumberland was greatly reduced. Within three days refugees began arriving in the south of the region, many died due to the effects of the radiation, mass graves were dug during October near the town of Morpeth.

With the collapse of the UK government, the administration of northernmost England and all of Scotland was supposed to pass to a Regional Government Headquarters (RGHQ) in a former hardened cold store from the Second World War in Hexham, outside Northumberland. But the HQ was preoccupied with helping survivors of the attack on Newcastle and by the end of October was functioning as little more than an increasingly squalid camp.

Alnwick castle

Alnwick Castle

The Queen's Lord Lieutenant - Hugh Algernon Percy, the 10th Duke of Northumberland - stepped in to support the work of the HQ and help to maintain order in the county. He began to direct local police and whatever military forces could be found. On the 25th September 1983, he sent out messengers (including his three sons Henry, Ralph and James) on horses to nearby towns of Alnmouth, Seahouses, Brinkburn, Wooler, Bamburgh, Lindesfarne Island, Amble, Morpeth, Blyth, Ashington, Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, and Rothbury carrying a notice that anyone with any military service (including national service), police service, or experience that may be useful (medics, gamekeepers, etc.) regardless of age to report to Alnwick castle by the 1st October 1983.

In total 874 men and 73 women arrived in Alnwick. They ranged in age from 15-year-old military cadets to 17 World War I veterans in their eighties and nineties. Included in the volunteers are 35 American students and teachers, based in Alnwick Castle from St Cloud State University from Minnesota, USA. The new recruits were included into the reformed Percy Tenentry Military Volunteers, armed from the castle armoury and divided into three divisions of 250 personnel they were sent out into the Northumberland countryside to maintain order in the name of the Lord Lieutenant.

The winter of 1983-4 was brutal for displaced survivors. The Regional HQ could do little to help the people camping around Hexham. Its personnel asked the duke for help finding a location that would better position them to administer the region. They decided on Brunton Airfield, a mostly-abandoned RAF site. The field was little used since the Second World War, but it had an updated radome and communication equipment that allowed more reliable contact with other government sites around the country.

Communication across the UK was spotty. Reliable lines of communication were established between the castle and a zone running from Berwick Upon Tweed in the north to the outskirts of the north Tyne Valley and up to the tops of the Pennines. Further out, radio allowed messages to be exchanged with other HQs and some evacuation sites for national officials. Several of these sites were no longer functioning, and even those still operating were in chaos. Large stretches of the country had no effective government at all. This included Scotland, ostensibly under the Northumberland HQ's purview but beyond its ability to extend any help.

Throughout 1984, the HQ and the Lord Lieutenant worked ever more closely, and their attention grew ever more narrowly focused on the county of Northumberland itself. The Duke moved around tirelessly meeting with people in towns and villages around the area, trying to maintain some sense of hope. But due to his exposure to the radioactive fallout in the south of Northumberland, he died of lung cancer on 11th October 1984 and was succeeded by his son Henry Alan Walter Richard Percy, who became the 11th Duke of Northumberland.

The rest of the UK was unraveling fast. The queen already died in April 1984. In 1987, a substantial portion of Britain's surviving naval force left the country together with some government officials. The surviving HQs, evacuation sites, and functioning communities were increasingly isolated from one another and could worry about little beyond basic survival. Northumberland was no different.

On the January 22nd 1990, Henry, the 11th Duke, announced the resumption of the Scoring of the Hales.

The Scoring the Hales is the name of a large scale Shrovetide football match played yearly in Alnwick, Northumberland. Once a street contest, it has now moved to a field named The Pasture across the River Aln from Alnwick Castle. The match involves about 150 men on either side and is a contest between the parishes of St Michael and St Paul. The goals are decorated with greenery and stand about 400 yards apart.

The game starts with the ball being sent over the Barbican of the Castle to the crowd assembled below. It was then kicked through the streets of the town. The game goes towards Bondgate Tower and from there to the pastures.

Nowadays the ball is fetched from the castle in procession, preceded by the King of Northumbria's piper. The game is won by whichever team is first to score 2 "hales" or goals, after which the ball is carried to the river and thrown in. Whoever manages to get it out at the far side of the river is allowed to keep the ball, but they have to swim the River Aln to get it.

The new duchy[]

The new decade brought a desire for something more permanent to replace the UK. Most people had not yet lost hope that it would be restored someday, but it was clear that an emergency administration would not suffice. Discussions between the RGHQ, the county council, and the Duke and his family (his brothers Ralph and James, and his mother, Lady Elizabeth) produced a plan for a civil state with an elected government in which the Duke of Northumberland would serve as head of state.

The new state was formed on 21st November 1993. It comprised the county of Northumberland as well as non-radiated parts of Tyne and Wear. Henry Percy, 11th Duke of Northumberland opened a new parliament would be formed based at Bamburgh Castle on the North Sea coast.

Bamburgh castle

Bamburgh Castle

George I

Ralph George Percy, the 12th Duke

Crown prince George

George, Earl Percy

Henry died suddenly in his sleep on 31st October 1995; without advanced medical technology it was assumed that he had a stroke. He was succeeded by his younger brother Ralph George Algernon Percy who became the 12th Duke of Northumberland and the third since Doomsday.

In 1979, the then Lord Ralph Percy had married Isobel Jane Richard, and with her has had four children:

  • Catherine Sarah Percy (b. 23 June 1982 - d. 25th Jan 2006 - died in fall from horse)
  • George Dominic, the Earl Percy (b. 4 May 1984)
  • Melissa Jane Percy (b. 20 May 1987)
  • Max Ralph Percy (b. 26 May 1990)


The Northumberland Parliament was named for the Anglo-Saxon Witenagemot or Witan, taking inspiration from its location at Castle Bambergh, which had been the seat of the old Kings of Northumbria. 22 members were elected and given the title Thane. The areas represented by Thanes were :

  • Berwick-upon-Tweed - James Johnstone
  • Allendale - Michael King
  • Acomb - Hillary Marham
  • Amble - Matthew Potts
  • Alnwick - Harold Sperritt
  • Belford - William Robson
  • Carlisle - Francine Marshall
  • Chevington - Michael Charlton
  • Ellington - Emily Dodds
  • Felton - Jenny Maclare
  • Rothbury - Alexander Armstrong
  • Lesbury - Paul Elliot
  • Longhoughton - John Charlton
  • Longframlington - Peter Robson
  • Newton-on-the-Moor - Jackson Armstrong
  • Morpeth - Alexander Hall
  • Ord - Anthony Graham
  • Ponteland - Karl Ayre
  • Shilbottle - Abigail Townsend
  • Warkworth - Aaron Jones
  • Widderington - Colin Lambton
  • Workington - Michael Barker

On the 6th of May 2011 two new members of the Witan were elected from the former Cumbria Co-Operative from Carlisle and Workington.

These Thanes along with the Duke (who had the deciding vote) and his heir (the Earl Percy) - these comprised the secular side of the Witan.

There were also 10 members elected from the church, usually Bishops or Arch-bishops but occasionally local vicars.

Elections of thanes were held every four years on the 1st Sunday of June. Every person in the Duchy could vote for his or her local thane as long as:

  • They are over 18 years old.
  • They have full mental faculties.
  • They have served one year or more in local service (military, emergency services, unpaid public service work such as road building etc.)


Northumbria News 2010-11

19th February 2012

The Northumbrian Railway Company along with the Northumberland Witan have announced the renovation of the former west coast main line linking Carlisle with the Duchy of Lancaster. Once this line has been completed (with a provisional date of mid August 2012) another line will be laid on the A74 and will link the Celtic Alliance city of Falkirk with Carlisle.

Provisional train stations will be for the completed line will be Falkirk (CA), Motherwell (S. Scotland), Lockerbie (S. Scotland), Carlisle (Northumberland), Penrith (WFT), Oxenholme (WFT) and Lancaster (Duchy of Lancaster).

Galloway War

The Galloway War

Final casualty reports have been announced for the Galloway War, with the Northumberland Army losing 12 troops and injured 72 and the Cumbrian Militia lost 22 troops and had 29 injured.

Unification with Cleveland[]

On the 22nd April 2007 it was announced that heir to the Duchy of Northumberland, George Dominic, the Earl Percy, was dating the Crown Princess Zara of Cleveland. On the 5th August 2008 it was announced that the two were engaged. The wedding date was set for 4th November 2009. Max Percy, George's younger brother, was best man.

This wedding and any children issuing from the marriage would unite the ruling families of Northumberland and Cleveland. Both families and their governments agreed to abolish the primogeniture rule (male children having right of rule over older female siblings) so that the eldest child (no matter the sex) will rule both the Northumberland and Cleveland.

The wedding took place at Richmond Castle. Upon the accession of George and Queen Zara to their respective thrones, the kingdoms shall unite under the name of the United Kingdoms of Northumberland and Cleveland, or UKNC. Upon the accession of the first child of Zara and George to both thrones, the two states would unite as one Kingdom under the name Kingdom of Northumbria.

On New Years Day 2010 it was announced from the Royal Palace of Wynyard that the Princess Zara and her husband George were expecting their first child, expected to be born mid August. On 15th May 2010 it was announced that Zara was pregnant with identical twin boys. On 9th August 2010, as 4.13am the now Princess Regent Zara, accompanied by George, attended James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough. At 4.42pm she gave birth to a baby boy (weighing 5 pounds 6 ounces) named Michael James George Percy and at 4.57pm she gave birth to another baby boy (5 pounds 2 ounces) named Edward Henry John Percy. Both boys were healthy.

On the 1st of January 2011 Princess Regent Zara came to the throne of the Kingdom of Cleveland, she was crowned on the 15th January 2011. The entire ducal family of Northumberland was in attendance.

Throughout all this old-fashioned diplomacy-by-marriage, the governments of Cleveland and Northumberland were forging closer links as well. Numerous joint agencies had already formed by the time of Zara's coronation, including a wildlife trust and a national rail company. A jointly-run national park straddled the border. What was more, Zara's popularity was on the rise, not just in Northumberland but across Britain. Northumberlanders began to think of her as their queen, and the cautious decades-long timetable for unification no longer seemed necessary.

In 2015, both cabinets came under the control of parties explicitly favouring unification. An Act of Union in Cleveland's parliament and the Northumberland Witan finally combined the kingdoms, with Northumberland insisting on one more referendum to confirm the union. While they were considered to be one kingdom and one nation from that point, the acts set a four-year timetable for combining all government functions and offices. This is where Northumberland's existence as an independent nation comes to an end.

Ralph remains the Duke of Northumberland but no longer serves as a head of state. His son George is still the Earl Percy as well as Prince Consort of Northumbria. Upon Ralph's death, George will inherit the ducal title and estate. In the generation after that, these will presumably merge with the Crown.



The Northumberland Ducal Army (NDA) was responsible for protecting settlements and raider prevention from the border regions of the former county of Cumbria.

The armed forces consisted of:

  • One unit of Housecarls, the most elite unit consisting of 120 men armed with heavy two handed axes and 9mm handguns, tasked with protecting the King, royal family and Members of Parliament.
  • Four units of heavy cavalry on Clydesdale and Shire Horses, armed with five foot long broadswords, each unit containing 50 men.
  • Three units of light cavalry, riding smaller former hunting horses armed with short swords, each unit containing 50 men.
  • Six units of archers, armed with crossbows and longbows, with 9mm sidearms and small knifes, each unit containing 150 men.
  • Five units of general infantry, armed with basic rifles, pikes, bilhooks and knives, each unit consists of 200 men.
  • One unit of artillery, armed with five 150mm howitzers salvaged from Otterburn military ranges.


The Northumberland Ducal Navy (NDN) was limited to small inshore boats and converted trawlers and there operational capability depends on the availability of diesel which is in short supply. Plans are underway to buy several small steam vessels from Cleveland

Air force

The Northumberland Ducal Air force (NRAF) is very small consisting of several small Cessna airplanes and one Sea King air rescue helicopter (formally based at RAF Boulmer however was on a sea rescue mission at the point of DD) flights are limited due to lack of fuel.

In 2011 the Northumberland Sea King went to the Celtic Alliance for a complete refit.


Every able bodied citizen of Northumbria aged 19 to 45 are part of the Northumbria Militia (like the ATL Swiss militia), at the age of 18 every citizen is given compulsory 3 months training in weapons and military tactics. All members of the Northumbria Militia provide their own weaponry, however most are small arms such as pistols, some people only have home made bils or pikes. It is estimated that there are 65,000 people in the Northumbria Militia.

In 2009 members of the Royal Cleveland Territorial Army came to Northumbria to train the Northumbria Militia and turn sections of it into the Royal Northumbrian Territorial Army which was created in mid 2011.

The new Ducal Northumberland Territorial Army was formed of four regiments with 400 troops in each, the regiments are:

  • The King's own Hussars
  • Royal Northumbrian Fusilliers
  • Cumberland Hussars - former Cumbrian Militia
  • Northumbrian Yeomanry

The two Territorial Armies were combined in 2018, though most units are still associated with Cleveland, Northumberland, or Cumbria.

Cumbria Militia

With the incorporation of Cumbria into the Duchy of Northumberland in 2011, the Cumbrian Militia became part of the Northumbrian Army. It is expected that it will become its own separate division in the Ducal Northumberland Territorial Army.


In 2009 the government of the Duchy of Northumberland placed an order for five new coal powered locomotives from a loco works in Darlington in the Kingdom of Cleveland, they were completed during 2011.

One locomotive has been certified for service with Northumbrian Railways

  • 60170 - Duchy of Northumberland - Certified January 2011

Four more locomotives were completed between mid 2011 and late 2013.

  • 60171 - Duke George - Completed February 2011, certified June 2011.
  • 60172 - Lindisfarne Abbey - Completed July 2011, certified August 2011
  • 60173 - Bamburgh Castle - Completed September 2011, certified October 2011
  • 60174 - Alnwick Castle - Completed December 2011, certified January 2012

Bilton loco works

In late 2010 engineers from the Kingdom of Cleveland traveled north to Northumberland to set up another locomotive building works in Bilton near Alnwick, the building was completed in early October 2010, machinery fully installed by December 2010 and was ready for the arrival of Northumbria's first new locomotive (Kingdom of Northumbria) in January 2011.

The new Loco works at Bilton will begin the manufacture of a modified version of the M7 class tank engine from 1911 in mid 2011. The first three produced will go the Cleveland in thanks for setting the works up.

The three new Tank engines will be called:

  • 125 - Derwent
  • 126 - Ouse
  • 127 - Humber

After these Cleveland Tank engines are completed then work will begin of four more for Northumbria.

  • 128 - Tweed - Completed November 2011
  • 129 - Tyne - Completed December 2011
  • 130 - Wansbeck - Completed January 2012
  • 131 - Coquet. - Completed February 2012.

Northumberland has also taken orders for six Tank engines from the government of Newolland for use in their newly reopened coal mines in Northern Nottinghamshire.

  • 129 - The Great Ouse - Completed March 2012.
  • 130 - The River Ancholme - Completed June 2012.
  • 131 - The River Slea - Completed July 2012.
  • 132 - The River Nene, Completed August 2012.
  • 133 - The River Welland, Completed October 2012.
  • 134 - The River Glen, Completed December 2012.