This week we have added a bumper crop of 165,856 brand new pages to The Archive. We are delighted to welcome a brand new Irish title to our collection – the Carlow Sentinel – as well as adding thousands of brand new pages to our existing publications from England, Wales and Ireland.
The Carlow Sentinel was established by Henry Malcomson in Tullow Street, Carlow, appearing every week on a Saturday. Meanwhile, we have published nearly 100 years of this title, with coverage spanning 1832 to 1920.
We have also added an impressive run of pages to the Merthyr Express, a weekly publication which appeared in the coal and iron producing areas of South Wales. With over 50,000 new pages added, spanning the years 1871 to 1945, you can explore the fascinating local news stories from Merthyr Tydfil and the surrounding area. Moreover, with updates to the Welshman and the South Wales Gazette, here at the British Newspaper Archive we are committed to expanding our exciting collection of Welsh titles.
Another exciting update this week is to the London-based periodical Truth. Founded by diplomat Henry Labouchère, Truth had a reputation for its investigative journalism, which led to its involvement in several lawsuits. We have added pages from the early twentieth century this week, when the audience of Truth peaked with a circulation of 1 million.
‘The Capital of Slumdom’
Using new pages from the Merthyr Express, it is possible to explore the living conditions in the Welsh industrial town during the early twentieth century. In July 1909, Welsh Baptist minster the Reverend W Rowland Jones gave a sermon, entitled the ‘Morals of Merthyr.’ In it, he ‘dealt at length with the obnoxious elements in the life of Merthyr. He had noticed, he said, the great number of slums that existed in the place, and he thought that he would not be far from the truth if he called Merthyr…the capital of slumdom.’
Indeed, the area around Pont-Stonehouse was known as ‘China,’ and was renowned for its poor living conditions, considered by some to be the most squalid in Britain. The 1,500 or so inhabitants were seen as a kind of underclass, lacking in morality and work ethic.
Minutes from a Merthyr Tydfil Board of Guardians meeting in 1904 reveal the kind of conditions that the poor of the town were faced with. Committee member David Davies alludes to the ‘frightful state of housing of the poor in the parish…which is conducive to the generation and spread of disease.’ Examples were given of houses consisting of three rooms being inhabited by two families, with estimated ‘1,000 insanitary dwellings’ in the area.
A prevailing opinion of the Victorian era was that poverty was a kind of sin, and arose out of the bad habits of those suffering from it. This is something that the Reverend Rowland Jones addresses in his sermon, commenting on how some believe that ‘these slums and this poverty were in existence because of the drunken and prodigal habits of a certain section of the working class.’ His belief, however, reflects a wider understanding of the impact of the industrial revolution:
The slums of Merthyr were mostly the creations of the oppression and injustice of the large capitalists of the district. Who built the greater parts of the slums of Merthyr? Were they not built by the past masters of industry in this place?
However, the Reverend Rowland Jones still had much to do in the way of saving souls. Addressing a report from the Chief Constable of Merthyr Tydfil, which demonstrated that ‘immortality was rife in the town’ and that ‘Sunday boozing rivalled that of a Saturday,’ Rowland Jones urged ‘the churches to put forth all their moral energies to rid Merthyr of these dark stains.’
This week we have updated nine 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.
|Merthyr Express||1871-1897, 1899-1910, 1912-1945|
|Truth||1900-1902, 1906-1907, 1910|
|Burton Chronicle||1896, 1899-1900|
|Newtownards Chronicle & Co. Down Observer||1875-1879, 1881-1900|
|Bradford Weekly Telegraph||1869-1878|
|South Wales Gazette||1894|
|Welshman||1836-1841, 1847, 1852, 1866, 1878|
|Nuneaton Observer||1877-1896, 1898-1903|