“This is the head of a traitor, Edward Marcus Despard!” The plot to kill George III, by Regency Spies author Sue Wilkes

Posted on January 22nd, 2016 by Violet

While researching her new book Regency Spies (published by Pen & Sword this month), Sue Wilkes uncovered the story of a desperate plot to kill George III and overthrow the British government…

reg spies highrescover1

Colonel Despard (1751–1803) has gone down in history as the leader of a wildly impractical, hopeless scheme. Despard was the leader of a group known as the United Britons, which had links with rebel Irishmen. Unfortunately for their plans, some members of the group were government spies, who reported their every move.

On 19 November 1802, the Morning Post reported the arrest of Colonel Despard and 29 others at the Oakley Arms in Lambeth. After several months in prison, on 25 January 1803 Despard and his fellow prisoners were tried for high treason by a Special Commission at the Sessions House (next to Horsemonger Lane Gaol), Newington. The prosecution alleged that the men planned to seize the Bank of England, the Tower of London, armouries (and grab the weapons stored there), make ‘Insurrection Rebellion and War’ on the kingdom, and kill the king. They all pleaded ‘not guilty’.

Despard had a distinguished military career , Lord Nelson appeared as a character witness on his behalf. But the court found Despard and John Wood, Thomas Broughton, John Francis, James Sedgwick Wrattan (Wratten), Arthur Graham and John MacNamara guilty of treason. They were sentenced to be hanged by the neck, ‘but not till you are quite dead; then to be cut down, your bowels taken out, and cast into the fire before your faces; your heads to be taken off, and your bodies quartered’(Memoirs of the life of Col. E. M. Despard, 1803).

Despard newgate vol3

The Morning Chronicle (22 February 1803) gave an account of the execution of Despard and his accomplices on 21 February. The night before the colonel’s execution, a prison officer heard him exclaim: ‘Me, they shall receive no information from me, no! not for all the gifts, the gold, and the jewels, in the possession of the Crown’ . Who else was part of the conspiracy?

8

An ‘immense’ crowd gathered to see the doomed men’s final moments. The men’s sentences had been commuted to hanging, followed by beheading. The executioner’s assistant severed Despard’s head. Jack Ketch held it up for all to see, and cried: ‘This is the head of a traitor, Edward Marcus Despard!’.

In Despard’s parting speech to the people, the colonel said he hoped that the ‘principles of freedom, of humanity, and of justice, will finally triumph over falsehood, tyranny, and delusion’. Some contemporaries believed that Despard was ‘framed’ by the government’s spies. Whatever the truth, Despard took his secrets with him to the grave.

The cure to “Zeppelinitis”: German airships attack Britain for the first time on this day in 1915

Posted on January 19th, 2016 by Violet

On the night of the 19th January 1915, two German Zeppelins appeared out of the dark on the Norfolk coast and conducted the first airship attack on British soil. They had set out for Humberside, but strong winds had seen them divert to the areas around Great Yarmouth, Sheringham and King’s Lynn.

It would be the first of over 50 Zeppelin attacks on the UK. Strategically, they proved largely ineffective, with night raids and bad weather conditions making it difficult to target specific areas. The large, lumbering airships, that would materialise out of the darkness accompanied by an “eerie throbbing sound”, became widely known as baby-killers.

Nottingham Evening Post - Wednesday 20 January 1915 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Nottingham Evening Post – Wednesday 20 January 1915 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Western Mail - Thursday 21 January 1915 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Western Mail – Thursday 21 January 1915 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Western Daily Press - Saturday 23 January 1915 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Western Daily Press – Saturday 23 January 1915 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Four people were killed during that first attack on Norfolk, while another 16 were injured. While the low number of casualties meant that many people declared the attacks a failure, it did draw attention to the country’s lack of air defence, and eventually lead to the formation of the RAF.

Dundee Courier - Friday 22 January 1915 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Dundee Courier – Friday 22 January 1915 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Friday 22 January 1915 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser – Friday 22 January 1915 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Birmingham Mail - Thursday 21 January 1915 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Birmingham Mail – Thursday 21 January 1915 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Despite the attacks, the British public were determined to remain stoic. Newspapers published articles advising readers not to bow down to the opposition’s attempt to spread “Zeppelinitis”, as well as cartoons depicting the airships as more of a novelty item than any real threat.

Western Daily Press - Friday 22 January 1915 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Western Daily Press – Friday 22 January 1915 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Daily Mirror - Friday 22 January 1915 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Daily Mirror – Friday 22 January 1915 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Daily Mirror - Friday 22 January 1915 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Daily Mirror – Friday 22 January 1915 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

But will it make her “more acceptable to the other sex”? Women are granted degrees in Britain on this day in 1878

Posted on January 15th, 2016 by Violet

On 15 January 1878, a meeting was held at the University of London to decide whether women should be awarded degrees by the institution. The next day, the meeting was documented in the London Evening Standard. In an article discussing the importance of education for all, the typo in the subheadline was hopefully someone’s idea of a joke…

© THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

© THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The article goes on to record the views of a number of speakers. We’ve picked out a few of our favourites…

H.M. Bompas: Concluded that “no amount of training or examination would turn a man into a woman or a woman into a man”

© THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

© THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Thomas Tyler: Would a B.A. render women “more acceptable to the other sex?”

© THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

© THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

J.G. Fitch: Women not admitted to Oxford and Cambridge only “because residence was a necessary condition”

© THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

© THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Mr. Creek: Assured that “a large percent of those who had passed in honours has also entered into the bonds of wedlock”

© THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

© THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Dr. Quain: Stated that “no proposal could be more injurious to the University”

© THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

© THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Mr. Blackwood: The proposal “would be injurious to women themselves”

© THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

© THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Sir William Jenner: Would rather follow his daughter “to her grave than allow her to go through such a course of study”

© THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

© THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

W.H. Harford: Would “regard it as a distinction if a daughter of his were able to fit herself for taking part in the world”

© THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

© THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The result?

© THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

© THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Historic #gymspiration from the newspaper archive!

Posted on January 11th, 2016 by Violet

So you’re all set for your morning jog when suddenly you realise that it’s raining. It’s getting cold. You can’t find your trainers and you forgot to charge your iPod. Thinking of giving up and crawling back under the sheets for a few extra minutes in dreamland?

Well stop right there!

We’ve had a look in the newspapers for our favourite pictures of gymnasiums through the ages, guaranteed to get you back up and running!

Western Morning News - Friday 18 November 1938  © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Western Morning News – Friday 18 November 1938 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette - Wednesday 21 September 1938 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette – Wednesday 21 September 1938 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Manchester Evening News - Thursday 23 May 1940 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Manchester Evening News – Thursday 23 May 1940 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail - Monday 31 August 1953 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail – Monday 31 August 1953 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Dundee Evening Telegraph - Saturday 07 January 1950 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Dundee Evening Telegraph – Saturday 07 January 1950 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 

Sketched at the Girls' Gymnasium of the People's Palace, Mile End, drawn from life by Paul Renguard - The Graphic - Saturday 28 December 1895 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Sketched at the Girls’ Gymnasium of the People’s Palace, Mile End, drawn from life by Paul Renguard – The Graphic – Saturday 28 December 1895 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 

Evening Despatch - Thursday 07 December 1939 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Evening Despatch – Thursday 07 December 1939 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The Graphic - Saturday 18 January 1908 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The Graphic – Saturday 18 January 1908 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Dundee Evening Telegraph - Monday 19 March 1928 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Dundee Evening Telegraph – Monday 19 March 1928 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

But, as always, someone had to go and ruin it. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this pleasure goes to The Illustrated Police News, which here features an image depicting the dramatic death of a “bright and promising girl” in a Victorian gymnasium.

Maybe it would be a better idea to go back to bed after all.

Illustrated Police News - Saturday 15 April 1899 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Illustrated Police News – Saturday 15 April 1899 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Coupon Monday: Rationing is introduced in Britain on this day in 1940

Posted on January 8th, 2016 by Violet

On the 8th of January 1940 rationing was introduced in Britain. With over 70% of the food supply imported before WWII, the government decided to safeguard against any plots to starve Britain into submission by introducing the rationing scheme.

The Ministry of Food’s explanation for the scheme was published in a number of newspapers:

Daily Record - Monday 08 January 1940

Daily Record – Monday 8 January 1940 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The new scheme was well documented across the newspapers…

Manchester Evening News - Monday 8 January 1940 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Manchester Evening News – Monday 8 January 1940 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Daily Mirror - Monday 8 January 1940 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Daily Mirror – Monday 8 January 1940 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Lancashire Evening Post - Monday 8 January 1940 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Lancashire Evening Post – Monday 8 January 1940 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

But there was reassurance that even the royal family was doing their bit for the war effort:

Daily Mirror - Monday 8 January 1940 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Daily Mirror – Monday 8 January 1940 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

How to live to 100 : History’s centenarians reveal their secrets

Posted on January 4th, 2016 by Violet

And so, as with every New Year, we welcome the quinoa-packed saucepans, virtuous jars of coconut oil and the herbal remedies which, we hope, will push out the carbs and caffeine binges of last year. The supermarket queue displays a thousand promises of health, wealth and well-being from slim, smiling models.

But in a world where a simple glass of red wine can have a thousand conflicting effects from self-declared health experts, what’s the real secret to longevity? Well, why not take a look at the evidence? Here are sage words of advice from some of history’s centenarians…

 

Mrs Caroline Trickey

Exeter and Plymouth Gazette - Saturday 15 March 1930

Exeter and Plymouth Gazette – Saturday 15 March 1930 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

“If you want to live to be a hundred be happy and satisfied. I have always tried to keep in the best of spirits. I’ve been contended with my lot, and never eat more than I want.”

And there’s one more thing we can all take away from Caroline Trickey’s schedule:

Exeter and Plymouth Gazette - Saturday 15 March 1930 a

Exeter and Plymouth Gazette – Saturday 15 March 1930 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 

 

Miss Fanny Daniel

North Devon Journal - Thursday 28 October 1926

North Devon Journal – Thursday 28 October 1926 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The North Devon Journal reported that:

‘In answer to a question as to her views on modern inventions, Miss Daniel laughingly remarked that they were “all very wonderful,” and informed us that the first ride she had in a motorcar was last March, and she heard the wireless for the first time a few weeks ago. “This wireless,” she added, “is a funny thing, but I reckon it’s all wonderful.”’

She advised that “Early rising, plenty of hard work, and plenty of good food, are the things that make you live to a good old age… I have always had substantial food- my people used to kill a bullock for the house, so you see I lived well.”

 

 

Mrs Sophia Ellis

Cornishman - Wednesday 14 September 1927

Cornishman – Wednesday 14 September 1927 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

“My breakfast consists of two pieces of bread and butter, with a cup of tea; for dinner I have meat and vegetables, sometimes a pasty; bread and butter for tea, and a cup of tea after I am in bed. We hear a lot about the injurious effect of tea, but I have been a tea-drinker all my life.”

When asked to what she attributed her long life, Sophia Ellis said: “Hard work and plain living”.

“I was left with seven children after my husband died, and it was a battle to get along. It meant hard work. This is the secret to health and long life. You can take it from me”

 

 

Mrs Elizabeth Ferris

Bristol Evening Post - Wednesday 08 March 1939

Bristol Evening Post – Wednesday 08 March 1939 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

“I don’t mind smoking,” said 104 year old Elizabeth Ferris, “although I have never smoked myself. I often make fun of girls who use lipstick and powder, though I don’t suppose they do any real harm.” Though her eyes weren’t good enough for reading, she did have the Evening Post read to her every day.

 

 

Mr Zaro Agha

Perhaps the most unusual of our list, Zara Agha was allegedly one of the world’s longest living humans. Born in Turkey, Agha claimed to have fought in six wars, including the Battle of Plevna when he was 100. He spent his post- centennial years touring Britain and the US.

Dundee Evening Telegraph - Friday 29 June 1934

Dundee Evening Telegraph – Friday 29 June 1934 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

According to the Dundee Evening Telegraph, Agha didn’t smoke or drink and ate a largely vegetarian diet. Dr Serge Voronoff asked him to take part in his controversial monkey gland treatment, which claimed to rejuvenate the patient by injecting tissue from a primate’s testicles, but Agha refused, stating that he “never felt younger”.

Agha died at the alleged age of 160. Doctors suggested he was at least 40 years younger, but the truth is still unknown.

 

 

Mrs Bridget Henley

Perhaps the soundest piece of advice comes from 102 year old Bridget Henley…

 

Fife Free Press, & Kirkcaldy Guardian - Saturday 07 October 1933

Fife Free Press, & Kirkcaldy Guardian – Saturday 07 October 1933 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 

 

The Spirit of Christmas Fake

Posted on December 18th, 2015 by Abigail Rieley

The Vice Chancellor’s court in Westminster must have been chilly indeed on Thursday January 11th 1844. We don’t know if the court room was busy, if the crowds had gathered to get a peek of one of England literary darlings. They might well have been. When A Christmas Carol was published on December 19th the previous year it had been to near universal acclaim. The first edition had sold out by Christmas Eve. But for author Charles Dickens there was no resting on his laurels. When a pirated version of the story appeared in Peter Parley’s Illuminated Magazine in early January Dickens immediately sought an injunction against the publication.

Despite the rapturous reception it had received, A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost Story for Christmas was a huge gamble for its author. Dickens had been unhappy with his earnings from Martin Chuzzlewit so instead of agreeing to a lump sum for the publication of his festive novella he decided to opt for a percentage of the profits after financing the publication himself. However high production costs meant that he only received a fraction of what he had been expecting.

When Parley’s pirated his story he saw red. They had changed only one of the names but the story of a miser being visited by three ghosts and learning the meaning of Christmas had remained intact, as had Dickens’ words. So that cold January day Dickens went to the courts he had covered so often as a journalist.

The Examiner covered the first day of proceedings the following Saturday.

The Examiner January 13 1844 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The Examiner January 13 1844 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Dickens won his suit but the publishers of Peter Parley’s Illustrated Magazine simply declared themselves bankrupt. Dickens was left with £700 in costs, a bill equivalent to roughly £63,000 today. He was most disappointed by the financial failure of the book as it was one he held particularly dear. The message of love and generosity overcoming selfishness and greed was one that he returned to again and again in the years that followed. He sanctioned a stage adaptation of A Christmas Carol which opened in February 1844 and ran for 40 nights.

Morning Post Febuary 6 1844 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

He also published further Christmas stories in 1844, 1845, 1846, 1847 and 1848, which all followed the same pattern as that followed by Scrooge with a strong theme of social justice.

Bells Weekly Messenger 1 December 1845 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Bells Weekly Messenger 1 December 1845 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

A Christmas Carol has never fallen out of print and Dickens tale really did help to create Christmas as we know it today. The phrase “Merry Christmas” became popular after it appeared in the story and Scrooge and his impatient exclamation “Bah Humbug” have entered into the language in their own right. All despite the rather rocky start its publication had for Dickens.

Just a traditional Christmas

Posted on December 17th, 2015 by Abigail Rieley

Tradition is inescapable at this time of year. Whether you are retreading the paths of your childhood on a visit home with nostalgia and memory driving your actions or you are building new traditions with your children while they are young, Christmas is a time of familiarity. These days what we think of as a traditional Christmas is steeped in Victorian imagery. We’ve been looking through the newspapers to see how people celebrated the season of good will in days gone by.

In 1785, the Christmas Eve edition of the Norfolk Chronicle recommended the present every parent was looking for that year. Modern children might be happy with the idea of a gift of money but one wonders how they would feel about being given a lottery ticket. Granted the prizes were enough to set you up for life by the standards of the time.

Norfolk Chronicle - Saturday 24 December 1785 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Norfolk Chronicle – Saturday 24 December 1785 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

If you weren’t spending your Christmas Eve queuing for your subscription to the Friendly Beneficial Society’s entry into the English State Lottery, then perhaps some festive entertainment would be the thing. If you happened to be near the Rampant Horse pub you could go to one of the three daily performances of the Scientific Pig – whose abilities apparently amazed his friends and astonished his enemies.

Norfolk Chronicle  24 December 1785 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Norfolk Chronicle 24 December 1785 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

By 1857 the more recognisable Christmas mould was in place with a fully modern expectation of frolicking in the snow and curling up by a roaring fire as the frost glistened outside. Except as the Leeds Intelligencer pointed out on December 26th that year, British weather didn’t often play ball with the best festive traditions, a fact they put down to Christmas being 2 weeks earlier than it had been under the Julian calendar.

Leeds Intelligencer - Saturday 26 December 1857 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Leeds Intelligencer – Saturday 26 December 1857 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The Lemington Spa Courier was concerned about where Christmas had come from and in its Midwinter editorial on December 21 1895, looked back at how the Yule log got its name.

Leamington Spa Courier - Saturday 21 December 1895 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Leamington Spa Courier – Saturday 21 December 1895 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

One thing that’s clear, looking back through the archive, is that Christmas present is never quite as good as Christmas past. Everyone looked back, except of course the Scientific Pig.

When the wind blows

Posted on December 9th, 2015 by Abigail Rieley

As Britain and Ireland count the cost of Storm Desmond and with further storms on the way we’ve been taking a look at horrible winter weather over the years. The carols might talk of how the “north wind doth blow” but British weather can be an altogether wetter experience. Winter storms often take their toll in the darkest months of the year and newspaper have always covered them in some way, shape or form.

In 1729, weather news was in its infancy. The Ipswich Journal of Sunday 6 December simply noted that extensive flooding had delayed the mail coach from the north by eleven or twelve hours.

Ipswich Journal 06 December 1729 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Ipswich Journal 06 December 1729 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The Great Storm of 1839 went down in history, especially in Ireland. When old age pensions were introduced in 1909 applicants wishing to prove their age were sometimes asked if they remembered the ferocious weather. Saunders Newsletter on January 8 described widespread damage in Dublin that had claimed the life of a Mrs Whitestone of Clare Street.

Saunders's News-Letter - 08 January 1839 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Saunders’s News-Letter – 08 January 1839 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The Reading Mercury on Saturday 30 December 1876 tried to make sense of the unusually changeable, wild weather the country had been experiencing.  You’ll find similar explanations in the news today.

Reading Mercury - 30 December 1876 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Reading Mercury – 30 December 1876 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Sussex Farmers felt the brunt of December floods in 1927. The Sussex Agricultural Express showed pictures of the cricket ground at Robertsbridge with it’s stranded pavilion.

Sussex Agricultural Express, December 2 1927 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Sussex Express, December 2 1927 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The Hartlepool Northern Evening Mail had a catalogue of festive elemental woes in 1951. A dead dog had caused an underground blockage that resulted in widespread flooding and Christmas evacuations for some home owners while a short circuit in the basement wiring in the Greyhound hotel in the town had caused a fire. Luckily no-one was hurt.

Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail – 27 December 1951 © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

So we hope you’ve somewhere warm and dry to hole up while the winter storms rage. Let’s hope the only weather woes you experience this year are the ones you find in the archive.

 

Now we are 4…

Posted on November 30th, 2015 by Abigail Rieley

We are 4!

There have been celebrations a-plenty in Newspaper Towers this weekend. We’ve been cracking open the bubbley (far away from any delicate newspapers of course) to toast the journey to get here. When we launched on November 29th 2011 we had 4 million pages. Now we have more than 12,370,000 across 545 individual titles. That first day we had 1.2 million searches from the public and today we’re so proud of you, our users, who’ve found family, researched books, told stories.

Of course, many of you have been researching newspapers at the British Library for years. Who has fond – and not so fond – memories of microfilm?

Digitisation has revolutionised the way we can access historic newspapers – but some things haven’t changed that much in 60 years. The bound newspapers are the same as ever and the cart in that Pathé clip seems to have still been around in 2011.

But now we’re in lovely old Colindale no longer. We moved to our state of the art new home in Boston Spa in West Yorkshire in 2013 and earlier this year the British Library opened the National Newspaper Building there. But while space will always be an ongoing issue there are other factors to consider these days. As this BBC report, exploring our new home, explains the journalism industry itself is changing.

Here at the BNA we’re delighted to celebrate 4 years. We hope you’ll all be with us for many more.