From Skegness to Skyrack | The British Newspaper Archive Blog


Hot Off The Press – New Titles This Week

This week at The Archive has been an extremely busy one as ever – we have added 199,897 brand new pages as we continue to augment our collection of newspapers from across the United Kingdom and Ireland. Over the past seven days alone we have added seven brand new titles, from Finchley to Liverpool, from Glasgow to Skegness, whilst we have updated nineteen of our existing titles, with significant additions to some of our Nottinghamshire titles.

So read on to discover more about all of our new titles of the week, and to find out which of our titles we have updated. And although it’s feeling very wintery at the moment, we explore the Skegness sensation that is Butlin’s, and look at when the holiday camp was opened back in April 1936.

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We begin our rundown of our seven new newspaper titles of the week with the London title the Finchley Press. A thoroughly local title, the Finchley Press appeared every Saturday and consisted of four pages, and was originally titled the Finchley Free Press and Woodside Park, Muswell Hill and Highgate Gazette. Covering, therefore, parts of North London, the Finchley Press contained ‘Local Jottings,’ the latest from the East Finchley Ratepayers’ Association, the Finchley District Council and the Highgate Police Court.

Finchley Press | 19 March 1904

Meanwhile, the Finchley Press had a particular focus on sport, reporting on local football matches between teams like Muswell Hill and the Regent Square Thistle. It also carried ‘Club Gossip’ from the various local running clubs, like the Lea Harriers, the Wigmore Harriers and the Hampstead Harriers.’ Meanwhile, the newspaper featured poetry, obituaries, and notices of train services ‘to and from the city.’

From Finchley now to Romsey, which is a historic market town in Hampshire, and was home to the likes of Lord Palmerston and Lord Louis Mountbatten. Romsey was where the Romsey Register and General News Gazette was published by J.F. Lordan from the 1850s, and it contained ‘the local news and general intelligence of the day.’ Costing just one penny, this local Hampshire title spanned four pages and appeared every Thursday.

Romsey Register and General News Gazette | 3 February 1859

The Romsey Register, however, looked beyond its home county, and reported on news from further afield, from Austria, Mexico, France and Spain, offering its own ‘Review of Foreign Affairs.’ Meanwhile, the newspaper featured a column entitled ‘Our London Correspondent,’ as well as featuring a digest of ‘Miscellaneous General News’ and ‘Miscellaneous Intelligence.’

Our next new title of the week is the Hoddesdon and Broxbourne Mercury, which hails from Hertfordshire. Published in the town of Hoddesdon, which is situated in the borough of Broxbourne in the Lea Valley and is twenty miles north of London, this newspaper was first published in 1983 and features 68 pages of local news and adverts, appearing every Friday.

Hoddesdon and Broxbourne Mercury | 17 February 1984

Moving further to the north for our next title of the week, and we are delighted to introduce to our collection the Skegness News. First published on 24 March 1909 and first known as the Skegness, Mablethorpe and Alford News, the newspaper originally cost just one halfpenny and consisted of four pages. From 1929 the publication changed its name to simply the Skegness News, appearing every Wednesday at the enlarged size of eight pages, and now costing one penny.

A thoroughly local newspaper, the Skegness News was published in the popular Lincolnshire seaside resort town of Skegness. It reported on news from the town, with headlines like ‘Shocking Skegness Window Cleaning Tragedy’ and ‘Death of a Well-Known Lincolnshire Farmer,’ as well as looking back at the history of the town, with features like ‘Twenty-Five Years Ago at Skegness.’ The newspaper meanwhile looked at news from the wider area, reporting on the latest from Addlethorpe and Ingoldmells.

Skegness News | 18 February 1920

The Skegness News focussed on the town’s standing as a seaside resort, featuring a column entitled ‘Chit-Chat from Other Holiday Resorts,’ and containing adverts for ‘Butlin’s Amusements on the South Parade,’ which preceded the opening of entertainer Billy Butlin’s first holiday camp in the town. Meanwhile, the Skegness News also contained reports on motor racing, school sports, cricket and funerals, whilst featuring a column entitled ‘A Woman in London,’ penned by Sylvia Mayfair.

Now, from Skegness to Skyrack, which is a wapentake of the West Riding of Yorkshire, located in the Headingley area of Leeds, and our next new title, which is the Skyrack Courier. The Skyrack Courier was first published in Leeds on 10 April 1886, costing just one halfpenny, and was originally known as the Roundhay Gazette, Moorton, Shadwelll, Seacroft, Thorner and Cross Gates Courier. A year later it became the Roundhay Gazette and Skyrack Courier, and then in 1889 the publication changed its name again to the Skyrack Courier, covering four pages of news and appearing every Saturday.

In its first edition, the publishers of the Skyrack Courier explained the need for such a newspaper in the area:

In the first place, there has been a long felt want of a journal, or some organ wherein to ventilate the grievances, troubles and necessities of this thriving and prosperous district. It is by means of the press only, that these things can be fully ventilated, and in the end, bring about beneficial results.

Skyrack Courier | 8 February 1890

And so, the newspaper stated that it saw ‘no reason why Roundhay and district should not have its own newspaper,’ in order that the opinions of the community should have some vehicle of representation. But along what kind of lines would this new newspaper be run? The first edition of the Skyrack Courier explained how it would be:

…conducted upon purely independent principles, acknowledging no politics except such as we believe to be universal, pandering to no party, advocating no religious cause, but fairly protecting the interests of the people by the denunciation of abuses and the defence of liberties, both local and national.

The main aims of the Skyrack Courier would be to ‘supply the latest and most reliable news,’ whilst furnishing ‘impartial comments upon passing events.’ And so, what kind of content did this newspaper feature? Well, it contained a look at the ‘News of the Week,’ correspondence from London, ‘Cuttings from the Comic Papers,’ ‘Society Gossip,’ and ‘General Foreign News.’ Meanwhile, it also featured local and district news, poetry, notices of deaths, and a special ‘Angler’s Corner.’

In 1923 the newspaper again changed its name to the Skyrack Express, becoming in 1996 the Leeds Express before merging with the Leeds Weekly in 2002.

From Leeds to Liverpool now and our penultimate new title of the week, which is the Liverpool Mercantile Gazette and Myers’s Weekly Advertiser. Established in 1817 as Myers’s Mercantile Advertiser; Weekly Reporter of Imports & Exports for the Principal Ports of Great Britain, the Liverpool Mercantile Gazette was an important record of shipping information, which consisted of four pages.

For example, the newspaper contained lists of ships and their destinations, which spanned the world, from India to the West Indies, from South America to various destinations in North America, from New Orleans to Philadelphia, from Virginia to Boston and New York. An 1822 edition of the Liverpool Mercantile Gazette, meanwhile, gives ‘British America’ as a destination, which is otherwise known as Canada. The publication meanwhile featured details of ships for sale, as well as news of shipwrecks.

Liverpool Mercantile Gazette and Myers’s Weekly Advertiser |14 March 1870

An integral part of the Liverpool Mercantile Gazette, meanwhile, was the list of imports and exports received and shipped at the ports of London, Liverpool, Bristol, Hull and Glasgow. Such goods in the 1820s included hemp, ginger, flax, olive oil, pepper and wool. The newspaper also detailed ‘Colonial Produce’ imported from the West Indies, South America and India, which comprised of coffee, rum, sugar and molasses, amongst other items.

Finally, the Liverpool Mercantile Gazette also contained the ‘Prices Current’ of goods at Liverpool, London and Glasgow, whilst featuring notices of ‘Sales by Auction,’ a list of bankrupts and ‘Nautical Intelligence.’ Unusually, the Liverpool Mercantile Gazette was sold gratis, with a fee for postage only. The publication lasted until the 1870s, and in 1871 James Grant wrote of it that:

It calls itself Neutral, and so it well may, for it has nothing to say of any of the important questions of the day.

Our final new title of the week is the Glasgow Evening Times. This historic Scottish daily was founded in 1876, a sister paper to the Glasgow Herald, which was first published in 1782. Politically independent, the newspaper was known as the Evening Times, with extensive circulation ‘not only throughout the populous counties in the centre and south, but as far north as Inverness, Wick, and even Orkney.’ In 2019 the Evening Times was rebranded as the Glasgow Times, and continues to be published in tabloid form to this day, with an average circulation of 20,000.

Glasgow Evening Times | 14 February 1879

That’s it from our magnificent seven new titles of the week, but we have also added more pages to our existing titles, from Scotland (Stirling Observer and Airdie & Coatbridge Advertiser), Wales (Carmarthen Journal and Pontypridd Observerand Northern Ireland (Witness (Belfast)). Meanwhile we have added extensively to our Nottinghamshire papers, with over 22,000 new pages joining the Newark Advertiser and over 11,000 pages joining the Nottingham Evening Post. Another highlight are the 9,000 pages we have added to Norfolk newspaper the Lynn Advertiser.

The Opening of the First Butlin’s – Skegness, April 1936

In April 1936 the Skegness News looked forward to the ‘opening of the first portion of the new £50,000 Holiday Camp set up by Mr. W.E. Butlin.’ This was to be the first holiday camp set up by the South African born entertainment entrepreneur William Heygate Edmund Colborne Butlin (1889-1980), who was more commonly known as Billy.

The Skegness News reports on 8 April 1936, just three days before the Skegness Butlin’s was to be opened, that ‘the demand for accommodation [there] has been so great that it had even Mr. Butlin by surprise,’ with 300 bookings having to be declined.

Daily Mirror | 15 April 1939

A week later, the same newspaper was on hand to detail how more ‘than 400 visitors from London and other areas’ spent a weekend as ‘chalet-residents’ at the new holiday camp. Visitors had been drawn in by a full-page advertisement in national paper the Daily Express, coming from London, and other parts of England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland.

So how could visitors to the new £50,000 resort expect to be entertained? The Skegness News details how they spent their time:

When the sun shone they flocked out on the Bowling and Putting Greens, the Boating Lake, and played on the Hard and Grass Tennis Courts provided in the Camp grounds for their pleasure, and when the snow and sleet showers came they simply flocked back in the Grand Pavilion and beautifully fitted up Club Rooms, and played Billiards, Snooker, Table Tennis, Skittles, danced or listened to the Orchestra, or joined in the Physical Culture classes.

Daily Mirror | 15 April 1939

The Skegness News was fortunate enough to have a reporter invited to Butlin’s new holiday camp, and they surveyed everything from the food preparations to the chalets. In charge of the food was head chef Mr. R. Gardiner, who had twenty years of experience working on ocean liners. Special dinner wagons transported food to diners; the wagons kept both the food and the plates hot, and could hold ‘no fewer than 100 meals.’

So what would the guests at Butlin’s be dining upon? Here is a sample menu from the weekend:

Saturday’s breakfast consisted of Porridge, Prunes, Bacon and Eggs, Marmalade, and choice of Tea or Coffee. Saturday’s lunch offered choice of Roast Pork, Stuffed Veal, Vegetables, Jam Roll, and Cheese. Saturday’s Tea included Cakes, Preserves, and Brown or White Bread and Butter. Saturday’s supper – Beef or Mutton with Pickles, Custard Pudding, Bread and Butter, and Cheese.

A Butlin’s ‘Beauty Parade’ at Skegness | Daily Mirror | 15 April 1939

And back in the kitchen, a ‘wonderful washing machine’ was set up to clean ‘8,000 pieces of crockery per hour.’

Meanwhile, our Skegness News reporter was getting a sense of the accommodation provided at the holiday camp, which consisted of Elizabethan style ‘sleeping chalets.’ Invited to take a look around by ‘two young professional Londoners’ who were staying at the camp, the reporter described how:

A glance round the daintly decorated chalet revealed that it was equipped with two beds, running water, and electric light. Its door opened onto a verandah, giving shelter from rain or sun. It looked out on to three hard Tennis Courts, and a long line of grass Courts and Putting Greens. On its sea side the work of excavating for the Boating Lake was in progress and a bridge over it led to the foot of the sand dunes, the top of which gave a glorious view of the beach and the rolling waves of the sea, with the Pier standing out to sea from the Skegness Beach.

Chalets at Butlin’s | Daily Mirror | 28 April 1939

Indeed, the reporter concluded that:

The lay-out of the Camp is certainly an excellent one. The black marble bath-rooms and club lounge are as luxurious as in the best London hotels, and laughter and sheer delight were indicated on all faces.

And although some residents of the town were unsure about Butlin’s, as reports the Skegness News on 29 April 1936, fearing that ‘Mr. Butlin’s camp would do Skegness no good,’ Councillor Frank Wood proclaimed that the camp ‘had provided the resort with one of the greatest advertisements ever known,’ the newspaper also declaring how:

‘Skegness took a great step forward as from the year 1936’ will surely be the verdict of the historian of the future.

Find out more about the holiday camp phenomenon and how it revolutionised British holidaymaking and seaside resorts by reading our special blog here.

New Titles
Years Added
Finchley Press 1895-1899, 1901-1909
Glasgow Evening Times 1879, 1884
Hoddesdon and Broxbourne Mercury 1984
Liverpool Mercantile Gazette and Myers’s Weekly Advertiser 1822, 1826-1827, 1829-1832, 1834-1843, 1845-1873, 1875
Romsey Register and General News Gazette 1859-1866, 1868-1873, 1875-1886, 1888-1894
Skegness News 1909-1962
Skyrack Courier 1886-1893, 1895-1898, 1900-1917, 1919-1923
Updated Titles

This week we have updated 19 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
Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser 1975, 1977, 1979
Buckinghamshire Examiner 1944, 1946-1950, 1952-1954
Carmarthen Journal 1849
Coventry Standard 1946, 1955
Daily Herald 1951
Diss Express 1972, 1976-1979
Fulham Chronicle 1985
Leicester Daily Mercury 1955
Liverpool Journal of Commerce 1896
Lynn Advertiser 1945, 1950-1951, 1997
New Milton Advertiser 1978-1979, 1995-1997
Newark Advertiser 1994-1996, 1998-1999
Nottingham Evening Post 1970-1971
Pontypridd Observer 1978-1979, 1981
Retford, Gainsborough & Worksop Times 1955
Southall Gazette 1984
Stirling Observer 1849
Winsford Chronicle 1972
Witness (Belfast) 1882, 1898, 1938

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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