This week we have a lot to celebrate here at The Archive. Not only is it our 8th birthday (The Archive was launched on 29th November 2011) – we have also reached the remarkable milestone of 35 million pages – all now available to search.
We have added 128,362 new pages to our collection this week, with one brand new title – the Sporting Gazette – joining us. We also have updates to six of our existing titles, with extensive updates to Scottish title the Elgin Courant, and Morayshire Advertiser, spanning the years between 1863 and 1905, and numbering some 26,000 pages.
We have also added new pages this week to the Reading Evening Post. This was a daily title covering Reading and its surrounding area, until 2009 when it switched to a weekly publication schedule before finally closing in 2014. We have also updated titles from the West Country, namely the Wells Journal and the Bristol Times and Mirror. Rounding off our updates this week are the new pages that we have added to the Hyde & Glossop Weekly News, and North Cheshire Herald covering the years 1876 to 1882.
We are delighted this week to welcome specialist sporting title the Sporting Gazette to our collection. Known by various names over the sixty-odd years that it was produced – including the The Country Gentleman and Land and Water – the Sporting Gazette was an essential guide to all sorts of different pursuits, including the rural (agriculture, hunting and shooting), the athletic (cycling, football, athletics, to name a few), the water-based (fishing in all its forms, as well as fisheries), and the urban, not neglecting ‘the man about town.’
By the First World War, the publication was under the editorship of prominent Catholic writer Hilaire Belloc, and it turned its attentions to the conflict. Belloc himself traveled to the Western Front to inform his articles. However, Belloc’s own passionate views – being of French descent, he lamented the ceding of Alsace-Lorraine to Germany – provided at times an inflated bias to the The Country Gentleman, positioning the conflict as ‘Pagan Barbarism’ pitched against ‘Christian Civilisation.’
By 1916 the newspaper shifted its title to Land and Water, and by 1920, it was absorbed by Field magazine, which we also hold on The Archive, and is still published to this day. Currently, we have the years 1862 to 1900 available on The Archive, but watch out for more updates as we plan to add the remaining editions right up until 1920.
Another interesting contributor to the Sporting Gazette was athlete and antiquary Walter Rye. He was famed for his ‘lively and waspish’ column, which covered athletic events. Rye made a rather staggering claim, that he ‘enriched the English language with the expression…’obstacle race.” Although the obstacle race has its roots in Ancient Greece, with the steeplechase an early example of the pursuit, by the late Victorian era the obstacle race had become quite the craze, whether the phrase was coined by Rye or not!
Indeed, it was one of the most recently invented sports of the century which took to the obstacle race – cycling. In 1898 the ‘varied and attractive’ programme at the Catford Cycling Gymkhana including an ‘open military obstacle race’ as well as a ‘gentlemen’s comic costume race,’ ‘ladies’ parasol race’ and a ‘musical ride.’
The Sporting Gazette describes an ‘Open Mile Obstacle Race’ in 1883, where ‘riders had to mount and dismount between each of twelve obstacles.’ This race was won by J T Collier in just over 6 minutes.
The obstacle race was popular elsewhere, especially within the military. In 1890 you could pay a shilling to visit the Royal Military Exhibition, and view obstacle races, as well as cycling and fencing displays. By 1900 the obstacle race had reached the second Olympic Games of the modern era in Paris – with a 200m obstacle swim included in the programme. And in later years, obstacle races are still in vogue, with extreme courses constructed throughout the globe.
This week we have updated six of our existing titles.
You can learn more about each of the titles we add to every week by clicking on their names. On each paper’s title page, you can read a FREE sample issue, learn more about our current holdings, and our plans for digitisation.
|Elgin Courant, and Morayshire Advertiser||1863-1905|
|Hyde & Glossop Weekly News, and North Cheshire Herald||1876-1882|
|Bristol Times and Mirror||1872, 1882, 1884, 1887-1888|
|Reading Evening Post||1987|
|Wells Journal||1965-1966, 1970-1973|