The Anglo-Zanzibar War

Posted on August 27th, 2015 by The British Newspaper Archive

The Anglo-Zanzibar War was a colonial conflict fought by the British during the late 19th century as part of the Scramble for Africa, the divvying-up of the continent carried out by European powers in the 19th and early 20th centuries. While countless wars were fought in the name of imperialism, the Anglo-Zanzibar War stands out thanks to one detail: it is the shortest war in recorded history. Estimates vary as to its actual length, but what is clear is that the war lasted less than an hour (no longer than 45 minutes) before the surrender of Zanzibar, starting and ending on the 27th August, 1896.

The crisis stemmed from the illegal succession of Sultan Khalid bin Barghash to the throne of the Zanzibar Sultanate following the death in suspicious circumstances of his cousin. Kalid declared himself Sultan without first consulting the British, who had been protecting Zanzibar. A treaty had been signed that gave the British the right to approve or veto any Sultanate candidates, and Kalid’s decision to ignore this protocol, combined with his subsequent refusal to abdicate caused a spiral that resulted in a naval task force being assembled to depose him.

The war didn’t last long enough to have any blanket coverage attached to it, so the reportage that we have is all after the fact. There are however, several newspapers that speculated on how long the Sultan could hold power before he was deposed. The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer speculated that, given the naval force he would face, the Sultan had no choice but to surrender to the British military might that had been mobilised to depose him.

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Thursday 27 August 1896

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer – Thursday 27 August 1896

Although Kalid’s forces had at least 2 modern German field guns and a number of Maxim and Gatling machine guns, they were also reliant on 17th century cannon and mainly armed civilians to defend the Palace. On the other hand, the British could draw not only on the Marines stationed aboard the Royal Naval warships, but also the 900 or so Zanzibari levies they maintained in the colony to help govern it. The new Sultan may not have been outnumbered, but he was most certainly outgunned. Added to this, he was politically isolated, with the many consulates on the island refusing to recognise him as legitimate in the absence of the same declaration from London.

Despite this, the Sultan refused to stand down his men or surrender to the British, and so when the British ultimatum – abdicate or war is declared – expired at 9am East African Time on 27th August 1896, the order was given to the Royal Navy to commence firing on the Palace. It took around 40 minutes for the Sultan to give in, but not before he had fled to the German consulate and claimed asylum, leaving the palace to be demolished by British shellfire. The Yorkshire Evening Post carried this editorial on the events in Zanzibar.

Anglo Zanzibar War Report 2 Anglo Zanzibar War Report 3

The steamer that the Post mentions was the HHS Glasgow, the former Sultan’s Royal Yacht, an outdated paddle-steamer armed with little more than swivel-guns that attempted to engage nearly 6 times her number of modern steam warships. She was sunk quickly by HMS Thrush, and wasn’t recovered until 1912. A photograph of Zanzibar harbour in 1902 – 6 years after the end of the war – still has Glasgow’s masts visible sticking out of the water.

A Panorama of Zanzibar Harbour, with HHS Glasgow clearly visible

A Panorama of Zanzibar Harbour, with HHS Glasgow clearly visible

With the war over, and an approved Sultan installed as the head of a puppet administration in Zanzibar, the Dover Express carried this report on the state of Zanzibar about a week after the war started and finished.

The Sultan fled to the German Consulate shortly before surrendering - Dover Express - Friday 04 September 1896

The Sultan fled to the German Consulate shortly before surrendering – Dover Express – Friday 04 September 1896

The shortest war in history is well documented in our newspaper archives. Why not look and see what you can find, and let us know in the comments below?


The End of the World: The 1938 War of the Worlds Broadcast and Press Reaction

Posted on August 25th, 2015 by The British Newspaper Archive

HG Wells’ novel The War of the Worlds, the story of a Martian invasion of Earth, has had many adaptations since being published in 1898. It’s unlikely that any of these adaptations has developed such an aura of myth and infamy as the Orson Welles radio adaptation of 1938, which was alleged to have caused mass panic across the United States. Conducted as a drama broadcast via wireless, the program went out uninterrupted for more than an hour and portrayed the events of the novel as a series of newsflashes breaking across commercial radio networks, and featured ‘eyewitness accounts’ and statements from ‘local officials’. This broadcast has gone down in history as causing widespread chaos in the US, as naive audiences new to the medium of radio took the messages at face value, taking to the streets in fear of imminent extinction at the hands of aliens.

Sadly – for those who love a good story anyway – this reported panic was a fabrication. The show carried a warning, it wasn’t even listened to by that many people and those who did listen to it didn’t believe it for a second. In fact, a lot of the reporting was the concoction of print journalists looking to rubbish this dangerous new broadcasting platform.  For more information on the myth and how it took shape, this excellent Telegraph article is the place to go.

For those of you interested in seeing how the newspapers reported on their made-up mayhem, read on!

Real names of towns used

Derby Daily Telegraph - Monday 31 October 1938

Derby Daily Telegraph – Monday 31 October 1938

One of the details that lent credence to the tales of public panic was the fact that Welles edited Wells’ text to reflect place names in the US, rather than UK. Horsell Common, Surrey because Grover’s Mill, New Jersey, for example.

Pandemonium Reigns!

Falkirk Herald - Wednesday 02 November 1938

Falkirk Herald – Wednesday 02 November 1938

As far as we’re aware, none of the above actually happened, particularly the ‘octopus-like men armed with death rays’. The reporter is good enough to state that the contents of this article are ‘almost unbelievable’. Almost, indeed.

The End of the World

Dundee Evening Telegraph - Monday 31 October 1938

Dundee Evening Telegraph – Monday 31 October 1938

Welles added to the authenticity of his creation by including equipment in use by the US military at the time. Wells had the HMS Thunderchild, Welles used a B17 bomber in its stead. The artillerymen in the book were replaced by a US gun crew, who struggled against a black smoke against which their gas masks were no match.

The American Panic

Dundee Courier - Tuesday 01 November 1938

Dundee Courier – Tuesday 01 November 1938

The Dundee Courier said about this panic that it was ‘doubtful if anything parallel to it has happened since the middle ages. That it should happen in so highly sophisticated a country,’ they continued ‘makes the phenomenon all the more strange.’

Women Faint

Western Daily Press - Tuesday 01 November 1938

Western Daily Press – Tuesday 01 November 1938

While women fainted in parts of the nation, Mr Welles doggedly defended his the faithfulness of his retelling of the original story, showing firmly where his priorities lay.

The Archive is rich with examples of this kind of story, reported on so widely that even today the accepted history among many people is one of panic, evacuation and fainting women. Browse the articles here.

An incredible first hand account of the front line, World War I

Posted on August 20th, 2015 by The British Newspaper Archive

Private Harry Wells

Among the thousands of accounts of the First World War you can find in the Archive, one publication stands out as a leading source of reportage and news surrounding the conflict: The Sunday Post. In June 1915, the Post printed the first hand experiences of Private Harry Wells, a soldier in the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment. Private Wells tells his incredible story in this article, entitled ‘My Experiences in the Fighting Line from Mons to Ypres’. In it, we’re given an eyewitness account of dogfights, the effects of an artillery bombardment, the capturing of spies and a surprise encounter with a brother who believed him to be dead.

Private Harry Wells

Private Harry Wells

Private Wells’ military career

Early career

Private Wells joined the army in 1896, seeing action in the Boer War (which he describes as ‘like playing school compared with the fighting in Flanders’) and serving in India, where his chief concern was illness rather than injury.

His time in Belgium would be more eventful.

A Battle in Mid-Air


As Private Wells and his regiment dug trenches, a German Taube encircled them, aided in their reconnaissance by the suspected (and later proven) assistance of spied. The Wellingtons opened fire on the Taube, only to be thrilled by the spectacle of two Royal Flying Corps aircraft taking to the skies and bringing the German pilot down.

Some Pitiable Sights

Horrors of war

Private Wells also witnessed civilian tragedy during his War. Additionally, what patriotic Brit would fail to be moved by the image of the smarmy German and the strength of character of the Tommy who could have given the protagonist a good hiding, but displayed the restraint expected of a British soldier.

Private Wells meets his brother

Meets his brother

When telling his story, Private Wells makes reference a number of times to the fact that rumour had gotten around that he’d been killed in action. That fact makes this meeting with his brother all the more emotional, as Private Wells’ brother believed him to be dead until this moment.

Cowards and Lions

terrible coward

This excerpt begins by describing the behaviour of captured spies, discovered reconnoitering the Wellingtons. The latter section describes the gusto with which Indian troops threw themselves into the fighting.

If you want to read the full account, from the Jun 6, 1915 edition of The Sunday Post (and we highly recommend that you have a look), you can find it here.

Over 275,000 New Pages Added In July!

Posted on August 4th, 2015 by Holly

Last month saw a fantastic 275,220 pages added to 98 different British Newspaper titles, including 16,610 pages added to the Buckingham Advertiser and North Bucks Free Press, and 25,377 pages added to the Public Ledger and Commercial and General Advertiser.

Subscribe for just £12.95 –>


Thousands of new pages from local titles to explore

You’ll find a full list of last month’s additions below. We hope you enjoy exploring!


Aberdeen Journal, and General Advertiser for the North of Scotland 3,631
Belfast Mercantile Register and Weekly Advertiser. 215
Berwick Advertiser. 6,277
Buckingham Advertiser and North Bucks Free Press. 16,610
Buckingham Advertiser and Winslow and Brackley Record. 46
Burnley Express and Clitheroe Division Advertiser 764
Denbighshire & Flintshire Telegraph, North Shropshire and West Cheshire Reporter. 462
Evening Despatch. 2,472
Grantham Journal 635
Lake’s Falmouth Packet and Cornwall Advertiser. 226
Leicester mercury. 6,932
Lincolnshire Echo 1,896
Maidstone Gazette. 206
Plymouth and Devonport Weekly Journal and General Advertiser for Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset. 212
Public ledger (1837) 20,993
Royal Leamington Spa courier and Warwickshire standard. 212
Saunders’s News-Letter : 3,961
Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser. 11,997
Sheffield Register, Yorkshire, Derbyshire, & Nottinghamshire Universal Advertiser. 1,639
Sheffield Telegraph and Daily Independent. 2,390
St. Andrews citizen 3,867
Stonehaven Journal, etc. 179
Sunday Post 2,040
Sunderland Echo and Shipping Gazette. 3,572
Telegraph & Independent. 2,406
The Aberdeen Journal and General Advertiser for the North of Scotland 448
The Arbroath Herald and Advertiser for the Montrose Burghs 427
The Bridport news, etc. 1,956
The Buckingham Advertiser and Free Press. 219
The Bury and Norwich Post 1,960
The Bury free press 499
The Chatham News, etc. 425
The Cornish Times. 209
The Dublin Evening Mail 1,348
The Evening News 2,551
The evening standard 2,451
The Falkirk Herald and Midland Counties Journal 2,244
The Faversham Gazette, and Whitstable, Sittingbourne, & Milton Journal. 1,269
The Fife Free Press, & Kirkcaldy Guardian. 3,469
The Fife free press. 201
The Galway Vindicator, and Connaught Advertiser. 425
The Glasgow Sentinel. 415
The Gloucester Journal 256
The Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette 1,235
The guardian and public ledger. 2,629
The Hartlepool Free Press and General Advertiser. 234
The Hertfordshire Express and General Advertiser. 212
The Leighton Buzzard Observer and Linslade Gazette. 2,716
The Lichfield Mercury 794
The Luton News and Bedfordshire Advertiser. 800
The Missionary Herald of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. 145
The Nairnshire Mirror, and General Advertiser. 962
The Northern Whig 3,915
The public ledger and commercial and general advertiser. 4,938
The public ledger and daily advertiser. 25,377
The Rochdale Pilot, and General Advertiser. 109
The Royal Devonport Telegraph, and Plymouth Chronicle. 204
The Scarborough Mercury, etc. 212
The Sheffield Daily Telegraph 7,909
The Sheffield Iris. 1,303
The Shields Daily News. 916
The Shrewsbury Free Press, and Advertiser for Salop and the adjoining counties. 426
The Southport Independent and Ormskirk Chronicle. 682
The Staffordshire Advertiser 127
The Star. 3,514
The Surrey Comet, and General Advertiser. 220
The Tadcaster Post, and General Advertiser for Grimstone, etc. 2,640
The Tiverton Gazette, East Devon Herald, etc. 1,967
The Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald 802
The Yorkshire post 3,418
The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer. 1,902
Whitehaven news 3,671

The Swindler Asgill

Posted on July 23rd, 2015 by Jim Shaughnessy

This story was submitted to us by Anne Ammunsden, whose exploration of the British Newspaper Archive led to some amazing discoveries and unravelled some mysteries that had baffled her family for generations

When I subscribed to the British Newspaper Archive I did so with the intention of trying to find some reference to a book review my mother sent me (when I was living in Tonga in 1986/7) about a book she thought I would enjoy. The book was a fictional story, located in Tonga, hence she thought I would be interested. I purchased the book in Sydney a few months after receiving the review, read it, and to my absolute astonishment discovered that there was a passage about real events surrounding my uncle’s death in Hong Kong, in 1941, when the Japanese invaded. I was blown away that these real events in Hong Kong could be conveyed in a fictional story about Tonga! After reading the book I stupidly lent it to a friend, and she never returned it. Since then I have been searching for this book in order to buy it again – but this is proving an almost impossible task now that I have forgotten the title and – worse still – the name of the author! I had hoped the BNA would solve the problem for me! But my near to 30 year search continues still, since I have not found a way of bringing up a book review from the late 1980s.

Since I got nowhere searching the newspaper archives for the hoped-for book review sent to me by my mother all those years ago (which would then tell me the name of the book of course!) – I thought that I would change my search criteria, just by way of contrast, to one word – “Asgill”. I am descended from a British army officer by the name of “Asgill” who was, though innocent, condemned to death by General Washington in 1782 – in retaliation for a crime he had not committed. He was eventually saved from the gallows by Queen Marie Antoinette, who pleaded his cause to General Washington. This being a well-known story I knew that just that one word would bring something up. And, sure enough, it did. 38 pages of “Asgill” articles!

Charles Asgill

Charles Asgill

What I didn’t expect, though, was that my search through those 38 pages of references to “Asgill” would bring about the solving of a mystery (within the present-day Asgill family) which has eluded them for the past 150 years. They have always believed that General Asgill had a son, called William Charles Asgill, who was the disinherited heir to the Baronetcy, and they’ve felt cheated ever since. It now transpires that their “William Charles Asgill” was, in reality, “The Swindler Asgill” who is written about in the following publications. Apparently “The Swindler” changed his name to “Asgill” in order to portray himself as the General’s nephew, and thereby swindle merchants of money to pay for his luxurious lifestyle! I was desperately hoping that one of the following articles would tell me the real name of “The Swindler Asgill” so that some closure could be had by the present-day Asgills by knowing from whom they really are descended. But it seems that “The Swindler” got away with his crimes and there appears to be no report telling the reader who this man really was.

Southern Reporter and Cork Commercial Courier Saturday 13 September 1823

Southern and cork
Devizes and Wiltshire Gazette Thursday 18 September 1823

Durham County Advertiser Saturday 20 September 1823

Salisbury and Winchester Journal Monday 22 September 1823


Bath Chronicle & Weekly Gazette Thursday 02 October 1823

Bath chronicle
Had he been caught he might well have been deported to Sydney, Australia, where this narrative by me began.

So now I have two searches to conduct, rather than one; Who was “The Swindler Asgill” and who wrote that novel about “Tonga”?

It’s lucky that I purchased a year’s subscription!

Crime and the Blitz

Posted on July 17th, 2015 by Holly

The bombing of civilian targets in Britain during World War 2 is now commonly referred to as ‘The Blitz’. The song ‘All Stick Together’ released by Ralph Butler in 1939 summarised the need for Britain to pull together as a nation against the threat of an invasion, and the ‘Blitz Spirit’ has gone down in history and is still invoked today in times of strife.  However, whilst the vast majority of the population may have been sticking together, there were those who took advantage of the war’s blackout and regulations for their own less ignoble ends.

Air Raid Precautions and Blackouts

To make aerial bombing harder for the Luftwaffe, cities were ‘blacked-out’ at night. All light sources – from cigarettes to street lamps – that could be seen from the air needed to be extinguished or covered. Streets in Britain rang to the shouts of ‘PUT THAT LIGHT OUT’ from ARP wardens, and those who failed to do so risked fines or imprisonment.

Crime & the Blitz

However, although darkness helped avoid accurate bombing from the enemy, it also concealed the nefarious activities of looters, black-marketers and violent thugs. Contemporary newspaper reports reveal that the Blitz wasn’t quite the era of British stoicism and solidarity remembered in today’s national consciousness.

Looting, Theft and Black Racketeering

With major metropolitan areas plunged into darkness, the petty crime rate soared. Looting became a constant problem for the authorities, as did instances of mugging and petty theft.

Crime & the Blitz, Records, historical records, parish records, census records, marriage records, military records, newspapers, historical newspapers, how-to, findmypast, find my past, find my past uk, family tree,  family history, genealogy,,

Thieves took advantage of people being out of their homes in public shelters or the Underground to raid their homes for valuables, and stole directly from bombed out houses & sites. ‘Spivs’, now largely romanticised as ‘Robin Hood’ figures, often bought or pilfered luxuries from shop’s stockrooms and sold them on at an extortionate mark-up to customers.

Crime & the Blitz, looting - Hull Daily Mail - Monday 30 June 1941

[Private Walker in Dad’s Army is an example of the romanticised version of the Spiv]

Even relatively mundane items were stolen or removed from premises to ‘protect’ them. A letter to a Sunderland paper from Tuesday 26 November 1940 reported a stolen sink whilst another in the Yorkshire Evening Post reported the case of a woman who secured a pair of shoes ‘just in case’ someone else stole them!

Crime & the Blitz - Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette - Tuesday 26 November 1940

Crime & the Blitz Looting for 'good' - Yorkshire Evening Post - Saturday 30 November 1940

Violent Crime

One man, Gordon Cummins, used the blackout to mask a spree of killings. Nicknamed the ‘Blackout Ripper’, he used the Blackout to commit his crimes and move around without arousing suspicion, and was only apprehended when a delivery boy caught him in the act.

Crime & the Blitz Looting for 'good' - Yorkshire Evening Post - Saturday 30 November 1940

Cummins was not the only violent criminal to take advantage of the preparations for war. An elderly farmer who shot at police over five acres of unused land ended up in an armed standoff with them. When tear gas was thrown into his farmhouse, he donned his gas mask to negate the effects and continued to fire on them.

Crime & the Blitz 6 gas mask used to negate Tear Gas -Lancashire Evening Post - Tuesday 23 July 1940

Although these were isolated incidents, the newspapers in our archive reveal the harsh realities of the Blitz. Search our collection for more stories of vice – and valour – throughout the war.

If you’d like to learn more about the Blitz and those who lived through it, look out for the upcoming release of the 1939 Register – a record of every civilian in England and Wales at the outset of war – at Findmypast.

“Glorious News!” Wellington’s Victory At Waterloo, As Reported In Newspapers

Posted on June 18th, 2015 by Holly

Today marks the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. Napoleon’s defeat by The Duke of Wellington and the Allied Forces finally concluded a nail-biting campaign during which the fate of Europe had hung in the balance, and ushered in nearly a century of relative peace. So now, as celebrations and commemorations abound, our minds have naturally turned to how the news broke two centuries ago…

This wonderful extract from the Morning Post, Thursday 22 June 1815, paints a vivid picture of the response when word of the outcome reached home shores:


Morning Post, Thursday 22 June 1815


The article continues in the same emotive language, declaring: “Britain, therefore may indeed now be truly considered as at the summit of glory. Having saved herself by her own exertions, she has saved Europe by her example and support, and to her generous and noble sacrifices will Europe and the world be indebted for the overthrow and annihilation of the curse and scourge of the human race – upon which great and God-like event we may now venture to congratulate the British public and the whole race of civilised man.”

Wellington’s despatch from the battlefield is described in detail, as is its delivery to the king by the Major Henry Percy, who had raced across the Channel to share the tidings as swiftly as possible. According to the Morning Post, Major Percy  “proceeded to Lord Harrowby’s, in Grosvenor-square, where all the Cabinet were assembled, and there delivered the Dispatches and the Eagles with which he was entrusted, amidst the universal and extatic cheering of the populace [sic]”

The British Newspaper Collection have the power to make historical events come alive, relaying a unique contemporary insight into days gone by. Start exploring today, and see what you can discover!


We added over 150,000 new newspaper pages last month!

Posted on June 10th, 2015 by Holly

We added an amazing 154,078 pages to the British Newspaper Archive last month, including 49,420 for the Saunders’s News-Letter  and 26,572 for the Sevenoaks Chronicle, Westerham Courier & Kentish Advertiser. These new additions took our total number of pages to 10,932,393 pages at the end of May!


Subscribe for just £12.95 –>


Thousands of new pages from local titles to explore

You’ll find a full list of last month’s additions below, with the new titles highlighted in bold. We hope you enjoy exploring!


Title Num of images
Aberdeen Journal, and General Advertiser for the North of Scotland 2,541
Aberdeen Weekly Journal and General Advertiser for the North of Scotland 424
Ashton and Stalybridge Reporter, etc. 1,384
Bedfordshire Times and Independent. 573
Birmingham Daily Gazette. 6,326
Buckingham Advertiser and North Bucks Free Press. 7,939
Buckingham Advertiser and Winslow and Brackley Record. 322
Buckingham Advertiser. 6
Cambridge Chronicle and Journal 1,544
Cambridge Independent Press 418
Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser. 614
Edinburgh Evening News 4,680
London Daily Chronicle and Clerkenwell News. 2,071
Saunders’s News-Letter 49,420
Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser. 397
Sevenoaks Chronicle, Westerham Courier & Kentish Advertiser. 26,572
Sheffield and Rotherham Independent 2,823
Sunderland Echo and Shipping Gazette. 8,723
The Aberdeen Journal and General Advertiser for the North of Scotland 436
The Ashton Reporter. 2,096
The Ashton Weekly Reporter, and Stalybridge and Dukinfield Chronicle. 438
The Buckingham Advertiser and Free Press. 7,171
The Bury free press 499
The Croydon Advertiser and Surrey County Reporter. 996
The Derbyshire Advertiser and Ashbourne, Uttoxeter and North Staffordshire Journal. 8,258
The Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal. 565
The Derry journal 1,090
The Driffield Times and General Advertiser. 213
The Falkirk Herald and Scottish Midlands journal 1,334
The Fife Free Press, & Kirkcaldy Guardian. 3,966
The Fife free press. 422
The Folkestone Herald, etc. 818
The Halifax Courier. 1,393
The Leeds Mercury. 2,878
The Leighton Buzzard Observer and Linslade Gazette. 3,831
The Southern Reporter 443
The Tiverton Gazette, East Devon Herald, etc. 454

The Quintinshill rail disaster

Posted on May 22nd, 2015 by Alex Cox

100 years ago today, the worst rail disaster in British history occurred at Quintinshill near Gretna Green in Dumfriesshire, Scotland.

On May 22nd 1915, a devastating crash involving a total of five trains, killed 226 people and injured a further 246. The vast majority of those killed were territorial soldiers of the 1/7th (Leith) Battalion, Royal Scots, on their way to participate in the Gallipoli campaign.

Disaster stuck when a troop train headed for Liverpool struck a passenger train that had been moved onto the main line at Quintinshill. Moments later, an express train smashed into the wreckage. The gas powered lighting system on the express train ignited, triggering a fierce blaze that engulfed all three as well as a further  two other undamaged trains in a matter of minutes.

Daily Record May 24th 1915

Daily Record May 24th 1915

Many of the troops were killed as a result of the initial collisions although the fire proved equally devastating.  Due high levels of wartime traffic on the railways, railway companies had to pressed obsolete carriages with wooden bodies and frames into service. These carriages had very little crash resistance and were lit using the Pintsch gas system. When gas reservoirs attached to the underframe of the carriage ruptured, the escaping gas ignited from the coal burning fires of the engines. A lack of lack of available water meant that, despite the valiant efforts of Railway staff the Carlisle fire brigade, it was not possible to extinguish the blaze until the following day.

The troop train had consisted of 21 vehicles and apart from the rear six, which had broken away during the impact and rolled back along the line. The entire train was consumed in the fire.

Many bodies could not be recovered. Those that were recovered were buried together in a mass grave in Edinburgh’s Rosebank Cemetery.

Daily Post - May 25th 1915

Daily Post – May 25th 1915

The cause of the accident was ruled to be the malpractice of two signalmen, George Meakin, and James Tinsley. Both men were charged with manslaughter in England, then convicted of culpable homicide after trial in Scotland. After a year in prison, both Meakin and Tinsely were released and  re-employed by the railway company, although not as signalmen.

The Daily Mirror - September 16th 1915

The Daily Mirror – September 16th 1915

The Chelsea Flower Show In Historic Newspapers

Posted on May 20th, 2015 by Holly

The Chelsea Flower Show is a beloved national institution. Every year the great and good – and green-fingered! – descend upon West London to ogle each others’ offerings and occasionally throw shade on the sub-standard spots.

It’s an enduring tradition, and as our newspaper collection demonstrates, one which has fascinated observers all over the country for many decades…

Chelsea Flower Shocks

As is sometimes the case still today, things haven’t always run smoothly at Chelsea. In 1913 one punter’s dreams were dashed to petal-strewn pieces by a rogue piece of canvas, a tragedy significant enough to earn inches in the Lincolnshire Echo on 22 May 1913:

Chelsea Flower Show - Lincolnshire Echo - Thursday 22 May 1913 - Mishaps


Even a century ago, the Chelsea Flower Show attracted the aristocrats like bees to sweet pollen. Queen Alexandra’s visit to the show was reported by the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Adviser in 1913.

Orchids were evidently the flower of the moment, as the Royals were apparently  very taken with them (thankfully their visit fell a day before the canvas disaster):

Chelsea Flower Show - Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Wednesday 21 May 1913 (2)


Innovation has always been celebrated at Chelsea, though hopefully modern bursts of ingenuity are more PETA-friendly:

Chelsea Flower Show - Sheffield Evening Telegraph - Friday 23 May 1913

Sheffield Evening Telegraph, Friday 23 May 1913


Above all, The Chelsea Flower Show is a place where people with a deep love of plants and growing come together to celebrate their passion.

The care involved when presenting the fruits of their labour has always impressed, as this final article from the Aberdeen Journal (20 May 1913) testifies:

Chelsea Flower Show - Aberdeen Journal - Tuesday 20 May 1913

Were your ancestors gardeners, or perhaps among the crowds at one of the Chelsea shows decades ago? Please share your family’s stories in the comments below – but remember to enjoy the great outdoors this week as well!