More from the Daily Mirror | The British Newspaper Archive Blog


Hot Off The Press – New Titles This Week

This week the presses continue to whir, and we have added 129,872 brand new pages to our collection. Our additions this week are to Britain’s longest-running tabloid newspaper the Daily Mirror, to which we have added over 100,000 colour pages spanning the years 1923 through to 1986, and to the Glamorgan Gazettewhich covers the central Glamorgan area. Founded in 1894, it continues to be published to this day.

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For anyone with an interest in crime history, the British Newspaper Archive represents a treasure trove for researchers, containing descriptions of court proceedings, illustrations (particularly lurid ones are to be found within the Illustrated Police News) and eyewitness accounts.

Having added the year 1925 to the Daily Mirror, we were able to find descriptions of a particularly tragic case from Sheffield, in which a former serviceman and boxer William Plommer was murdered in a ‘street affray,’ or what was an early example of gang violence, in a case which shocked the nation.

On the 27 April 1925, William Plommer was standing outside his house in Sheffield (Princess Street), when a gang of men set upon him. With weapons varying from a razor to a poker, and even a bayonet, poor Plommer barely stood a chance, although instead of running, he chose to stand and fight.

The Daily Mirror in May 1925 reports on the testimony of witnesses, who said how Plommer ”stood like a hero’ and refused to run when attacked by a gang of men. He challenged them to come one by one.’

Daily Mirror | 19 May 1925

Another witness to the proceedings was Plommer’s wife, ‘who saw her husband killed.’ Understandably, she ‘broke down while giving evidence,’ relating how she had seen one of the accused (Lawrence Fowler) ‘strike [her] husband with a poker,’ whilst calling ‘Come on, one at a time.’

This crime saw eleven men accused, whilst witnesses at the Windsor Hotel told of how a gang of men, including Amos Stewart and Wilfred Fowler (Lawrence Fowler’s brother) had said as they left ‘We want Plommer,’ threatening to kill him.

These men were part of a Sheffield gang known as the Park Brigade Gang, and one of their members had been drinking in a pub when William Plommer had called him out over his treatment of a barmaid. From that moment, Plommer was a marked man, and destined to become a victim of cruel gang violence.

The funeral of William Francis Plommer | Sheffield Daily Telegraph | 4 May 1925

Following the inquest, ‘ten men [were] charged with murder’ in relation to the case, which made international headlines. A short announcement in a 29 July edition of the Daily Mirror labels the affair the ‘Sheffield gang trial,’ whilst awaiting the verdict of the court.

In the end, five men were convicted of the murder, with brothers Lawrence and Wilfred Fowler sentenced to death. In a report from August 1925, the Daily Mirror labels the crime ‘a race-gang feud,’ whilst also detailing a plea given by Wilfred Fowler’s wife, who protested her husband’s innocence. She revealed how Wilfred Fowler had named the man who struck the fatal blow.

The last moments of the Fowler brothers | Illustrated Police News | 10 September 1925

However, her pleas were in vain, and the Fowler brothers were hanged at Armley Gaol, Leeds.

This was a truly tragic and shocking case, and the fact that Plommer was a former servicemen in a period where veterans faced particular hardships, made the case even more disturbing. At William Plommer’s funeral ‘8,000 people were in the cemetery,’ according again to the Daily Mirror. ‘A wild rush’ then took place, and the church was ‘besieged.’ Meanwhile, Plommer’s eleven-year-old son wore his father’s medals.

Daily Mirror | 4 May 1925

Updated Titles

This week we have updated two 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.

Years Added
Daily Mirror 1923, 1925, 1927-1929, 1934-1937, 1980-1986
Glamorgan Gazette 1911

You can keep up to date with all the latest additions by visiting the recently added page.  You can even look ahead to see what we’re going to add tomorrow.


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