Hot Summer of 1899 | The British Newspaper Archive Blog


Hot Off The Press – New Titles This Week

Over the past seven days here at The Archive we have been busy adding 131,994 brand new pages to our collection, as we continue to augment our newspaper holdings from across Britain, Ireland, and beyond. This week we’re delighted to welcome one brand new title from London, the Lewisham Borough News, as well as updates to twelve of our existing titles.

So read on to discover more about all of our new and updated titles of the week, and as the United Kingdom basks in unusually hot temperatures, we take a look back at the very hot summer of 1899, and how it caused havoc across the country.

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But before we explore the hot weather of summers past, we’re delighted to welcome the Lewisham Borough News to our collection. Founded in 1889 as the Lewisham Independent, Catford, Lee, and Blackheath Times, this newspaper, as indicated by its initial title, was politically independent. It dubbed itself as a ‘Journal Devoted to Parochial and Social Matters,’ appearing every Friday at the cost of just one halfpenny.

Changing its name in 1900 to the Lewisham Borough News, this newspaper contained all the local news from Lewisham, an area of south-east London that was historically a part of Kent, as well as from nearby Catford, Lee, and Blackheath. Spanning eight pages, the newspaper contained national news as well, which was sometimes accompanied by illustrations. For example, the death of the Duke of Clarence was announced in the newspaper alongside a portrait of the deceased heir to the throne.

Lewisham Borough News | 2 January 1940

Meanwhile, the Lewisham Borough News covered local matters, such as featuring the latest from the Lewisham Board of Guardians, as well as featuring tidings of accidents at nearby railway station London Bridge. The newspaper had a particular focus on fiction, moreover, featuring serialised stories that would extend over three of its eight pages. Finally, the Lewisham Borough News contained a variety of advertisements, with ‘For Sale’ and ‘Wanted’ columns populating its pages.

As well as the addition of the wonderful Lewisham Borough News to our collection this week, we’ve updated twelve of our existing titles. We’ve added more pages to last week’s new illustrated publication Black and White, whilst we’ve also added over 7,000 pages to our new Canadian title the Ottawa Free Press. You can also find updates to two of our Irish titles this week, with new years added to both the East Galway Democrat and the Munster Tribune over the past seven days.

Aris’s Birmingham Gazette | 16 November 1741

We are also delighted to have added more pages to the eminently historic Aris’s Birmingham Gazette, with the new additions actually comprising of the first ever edition of the newspaper, which was first published on 16 November 1741. Founded by London printer Thomas Aris in 1741 as the Birmingham Gazette and General Correspondent, the newspaper would go on to garner the reputation as one of the most important provincial papers of the eighteenth century, incorporating its rival the Warwick and Staffordshire Gazette in 1743 to become Birmingham’s sole newspaper. Abiding to a neutral political stance, the newspaper merged with the Birmingham Daily Gazette in 1888.

A further update of note this week is the nearly 40,000 pages that we have added to the Bucks Advertiser & Aylesbury News, which span the years 1836 to 1953. Published in Aylesbury every Saturday, this newspaper positioned itself as a ‘High-Class Weekly County Newspaper,’ with a circulation across the counties of Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Middlesex and Northamptonshire. Established in 1836, this newspaper was Liberal in its politics.

Bucks Advertiser & Aylesbury News | 15 December 1900
‘Hot Weather, We Suppose’- The Summer of 1899

In 1899 the United Kingdom experienced its hottest summer for thirty years, the country enduring its fourth hottest summer since 1659, and hottest since 1868. The hot weather also brought with it a drought, making it the eighth driest summer on record.

New pages from the our title the Lewisham Borough News reveal the havoc the hot weather played on the country, as it affected everyone from all walks of life, from labourers to council members, and even the aging monarch, Queen Victoria herself.

Illustrated Police News | 16 September 1899

Indeed, the Lewisham Borough News put hot weather down as an explanation for a variety of anti-social and unexpected behaviour throughout the summer of 1899. Under the headline ‘Hot Weather, We Suppose,’ the newspaper reported on two instances of drunkenness that it attributed to unusually warm temperatures:

John Parker, of Glenview-road, Lewisham, went down to Deptford Broadway with a horse and van. He also got drunk, and on Monday was fined 40s at Greenwich.

Joining John Parker in his revelries, although this time in Lee, was one George Bagnall, a builder, who:

…was also found drunk in the High-road, Lee, while in charge of a horse and trap. – On Monday at Greenwich he said he was quite capable of taking care of the horse, but two constables said he was drunk, so the magistrate settled the matter by fining him 40s, or a month in default.

The newspaper puts both Parker and Bagnall’s behaviour down to the hot weather, and it also used the same excuse for the ‘strange conduct’ of the Lee Vestry Chairman on 20 July 1899:

Churchwarden Clarke was in the chair, at the eventful Vestry meeting held last Tuesday, and we are afraid the hot weather had marred his judgement, not to say quickened his short temper.

Swimming race at Blackpool, held in the sweltering weather | Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News | 2 September 1899

Tempers were fraying, as an excess of alcohol was consumed. A Lewisham Borough News ‘Stop Press’ news item appeared on 3 August 1899, detailing how ‘Several Lewisham Board of Work members report to be seriously ill.’ The medical report detailed how the illnesses were caused:

…through the whisky they drank last week being adulterated with methylated spirits – too heating this hot weather.

The hot weather was proving to be all too much, and it was even impacting the aging Queen, who was in her eightieth year. The Lewisham Borough News on 10 August 1899 relayed how:

The weather has been very hot indeed at Osborne during the last few days, and the Queen has therefore gone for her daily drive much later than usual, starting after tea, about 6 o’clock, and on Wednesday evening drove through Newport at a quarter to 8.

Queen Victoria’s 80th birthday celebrations at Windsor | Illustrated London News | 3 June 1899

The report continued:

Her Majesty is obliged to nurse her strength in the hot weather, and she has therefore given up her intended visit to Ventnor, so the ceremony of opening the new Henry of Battenberg Wing of the Royal National Hospital for Consumption is to be performed by Princess Beatrice…

And the Queen wasn’t the only royal to be suffering as a result of the warm temperatures. King Christian IX of Denmark was forced to ‘cut short his stay at Wiesbaden in consequence of the extreme heat of the weather,’ staying at the German spa town for only two weeks instead of the three weeks he had planned, as detailed the Lewisham Borough News.

All in all, the Lewisham Borough News concluded on 24 August 1899:

Town during the holiday season is not a very desirable place of residence, and there is no wonder that all who find it in their power elect to make their exodus when convenience permits. The weather recently has been of an extraordinary description. Only a few days since the heat was terrific, and the great test match was conducted under a blazing sun and an unclouded sky.

Goring and Streatley Regatta, held in the glorious weather | Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News | 5 August 1899

And whilst thunderstorms broke across the country, there was no such relief for those trapped in town:

Though thunderstorms burst over various parts of the provinces there was no semblance of a disturbance of the kind in the Metropolis, badly as a downpour was needed. But later on came an extraordinary change, for the heat wave seemed to pass away and the air became considerably cooler. This respite was not of long duration, however, for the hot weather returned with a vengeance, and one who is compelled to resume labour is prompted to envy those who lines are cast in somewhat pleasant places.

And as we today experience the hot weather, we should count ourselves lucky for the innovations of air conditioning and fans, and changes of fashion and notions of modesty which mean we do not have to suffer from the heat as those did back in the summer of 1899.

New Titles
Years Added
Lewisham Borough News 1892-1957, 1959-1962
Updated Titles

This week we have updated twelve 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
Aris’s Birmingham Gazette 1741, 1746, 1761, 1772, 1791, 1798, 1800-1801, 1803-1804, 1808-1809, 1813, 1817
Black & White 1901, 1903-1904
Bromley Chronicle 1893
Bromley Journal and West Kent Herald 1903-1904
Bucks Advertiser & Aylesbury News 1836-1837, 1839-1840, 1843-1844, 1846-1850, 1852, 1856, 1866-1868, 1870-1871, 1873, 1875-1889, 1891-1895, 1898-1910, 1913-1919, 1922, 1925-1926, 1928, 1930, 1933, 1935, 1937, 1940, 1947-1950, 1952-1953
Chelsea News and General Advertiser 1991
Derbyshire Times 1910, 1913, 1916, 1918, 1927
East Galway Democrat 1937
Munster Tribune 1960
Ottawa Free Press 1905, 1916
Sunday Sun (Newcastle) 1939, 1990
Wallington & Carshalton Herald 1881

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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