Hot Off The Press – New Pages This Week – The British Newspaper Archive Blog

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Hot Off The Press – New Pages This Week

From South Shields to Saint Lucia, from Carmarthen to Canada, we’ve added 155,351 brand new pages to The Archive this week, spanning over 180 years of headlines. Furthermore, we’ve updated eighteen of our existing titles, with updates covering our regional titles from England, Scotland and Wales, as well as some of our international titles from Canada and the Caribbean.

So read on to discover more about our updated titles of the week, as well as to learn about the bombing of a newspaper premises in South Shields during the Second World War, and how the newspaper still made it to print the following day.

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Our biggest update of the week is to the Shields Daily Gazette, to which we have added an incredible 64,382 new pages this week. Established in February 1849 as the North & South Shields Gazette and Northumberland and Durham Advertiser by Glasgow merchant James Stevenson, who had moved to Tyneside five years previously to become a partner in the Jarrow Chemical Works, this newspaper initially appeared every week.

Shields Daily Gazette | 3 January 1940

In 1854 Stevenson’s son James Cochran Stevenson took over the running of the newspaper, and two days after the repeal of the newspaper stamp duty in 1855 he introduced a daily evening edition of the Gazette, which cost only one halfpenny. The Shields Daily Gazette, therefore, became the first provincial evening newspaper in the country, and its weekly version was eventually discontinued.

Liberal in its politics, the Shields Daily Gazette circulated largely ‘in North and South Shields, Jarrow, Newcastle-on-Tyne, Sunderland, Seaham, Blyth, the Hartlepools, the Stocktons, Whitby, and generally in the counties of Northumberland and Durham and ports on the North-east coast.’ Now titled the Shields Gazette, this newspapers continues to be published today.

For your North East of England newspaper hit this week, we’ve also added new pages to the Stockton & Billingham Herald & Post.

Another large update of the week is the 25,000 brand new pages we’ve added to the Birmingham Weekly Mercury, which span the years 1924 to 1999. Founded in 1884, and initially Conservative in its politics, the Birmingham Weekly Mercury appeared every Saturday and provided ‘full and ample reports…of the local and general news, with tales, sketches, and illustrations.’

Birmingham Mercury | 10 February 1924

On 29 December 1918 the newspaper was relaunched as the Sunday Mercury, shifting its publication day to become a Sunday newspaper. It was edited by John Turner Fearon (1869-1937), who had left Dublin newspaper the Freeman’s Journal to take up the role. A tabloid newspaper, the Sunday Mercury continues to be published to this day.

Meanwhile, we’ve made further updates this week to some of our other Birmingham titles, with new pages joining the Evening DespatchBirmingham Mail and Aris’s Birmingham Gazette, as well as to Birmingham based sports title the Sports Argus.

Looking further afield, we’ve also added nearly 10,000 new pages to one of our Caribbean titles this week, namely the Mirror (Trinidad & Tobago). First published in the Port of Spain on 1 January 1898, this newspaper was edited by R.R. Mole and sub-edited by H.D. Carruthers, who had the reputation of being both the best reporter and shorthand writer in Trinidad, and indeed within the West Indies.

Mirror (Trinidad & Tobago) | 5 January 1899

Costing two shillings, and filling eight pages, the Mirror claimed to have ‘no political faith,’ and to be ‘neither Catholic nor Protestant.’ Thoroughly independent then, this newspaper was published twice a week and had a particular focus on shipping intelligence, reporting on the passengers and ships arriving in and departing from the country. Meanwhile, the Mirror featured a thoroughly informative account of life on the island of Trinidad with a section entitled ‘Trinidad Day by Day.’

Alongside the new pages we have added to the Mirror, we’ve also updated two of its fellow Caribbean titles, the Colonial Standard and Jamaica Dispatch and the Voice of St. Lucia. We’ve also updated another of our international titles, the Ottawa Free Press.

We’ve not neglected Scotland or Wales this week, with new pages joining Scottish title the Galloway News and Kirkcudbrightshire Advertiser, and Welsh title the Carmarthen Journal. Our final update of note are the over 16,000 new pages that have joined the Kent Messenger & Gravesend Telegraph, which span the years 1913 to 1969.

October 1941 – Shields Daily Gazette Offices Bombed

Throughout the Second World War the town of South Shields was repeatedly attacked by the German Luftwaffe, with its industries making it a target of bombing raids. The bombing raid of 2 October 1940 was a particularly brutal one, leaving 67 dead and over 1,600 people homeless, as bombs rained down on the North East of England, hitting other targets in Newcastle, North Shields, Jarrow, Sunderland, Whitley Bay and Hebburn.

A bomb dropped outside the Co-op store on Lyon Street, Hebburn, Co Durham, on the night of Saturday 24 and Sunday, 25 August 1940 – from the Findmypast Photo Collection

One of the buildings to be hit in the October 1941 bombing raids on South Shields were the printing and publishing offices of the Shields Daily Gazette, to which we have added new pages this week. These new pages reveal ‘how the people of South Shields and North Shields continued to get their local newspapers after the printing and publishing offices in both towns had been put out of action in one night’s air raid.’

This report appeared on 29 October 1941, and although no actual date of when the printing offices were hit is included, it can be surmised that the bomb damage occurred on the 2 October 1940, when the town was so badly hit by German bombing. Any reports of bomb damage suffered on the home front had to be carefully curated as to not impact morale; whilst this story in the Shields Daily Gazette is clearly exemplative of the ‘Blitz spirit,’ a feel-good story in the midst of destruction, of overcoming adversity in the most trying of times.

Bomb damage in Newcastle | Civilians walk along the street with some of their belongings after an air raid the night before had hit a Newcastle suburb | From the Findmypast Photo Collection

Two newspapers, the Shields Daily Gazette and the Shields Evening News, then both published by the Northern Press Ltd, were both impacted by the bombing, with the ‘damage done’ being ‘so severe as to make production of impossible in either of them.’

However, the Shields Daily Gazette reports how ‘both newspapers were published as usual the next day,’ but how was this possible, given the level of damage inflicted on both the printing and publishing premises?

Shields Daily Gazette | 29 October 1941

Indeed, the Shields Daily Gazette records how ‘the Shields Gazette buildings in Barrington Street and Chapter Row received two direct hits within a few minutes, causing extensive damage.’ The newspaper goes on to detail how:

The first bomb crashed through the roof in the centre of building and wrecked practically every office on both floors, while the second completely demolished the north end of the premises which comprised the commercial printing department. The printing presses on the ground floor of the new extension and the linotype machines immediately above escaped serious damage.

Escaping too were four firewatchers stationed at the building, who were all employees of the Northern Press. The Shields Daily Gazette gives the following account of their narrow escapes:

Three of the fire-watchers – Messrs F.R. Sarson (sub-editor), D. Hopper and J. Tither (linotype operators) – were in the doorway in Barrington Street when they heard the shriek of a falling bomb, and they just had time to dive on the floor when they were defeaned by the noise of the explosion and the crashing of masonry and timber. They were buried in the debris, but, although suffering from shock and the effects of the blast, they escaped serious injury.

A trolley bus damaged in the bombing raids on the North East in October 1941 | 4 October 1941

Meanwhile fellow firewatcher Mr. Fred Taylor, who was a chief reporter at the Northern Press, was upstairs when the bomb hit. He was ‘flung off his feet,’ and buried within the wreckage, whilst terrifyingly, ‘Immediately behind him, not more than a yard away, a portion of the building had collapsed into ruins.’ Despite suffering from shock, and minor cuts and bruises, Fred made it back down ‘the shattered stairway.’

So with the offices of the Shields Daily Gazette damaged in South Shields, and those of the Shields Evening News in North Shields also hit, plans had to be put into place ‘which would ensure the uninterrupted publication of the papers of the firm.’

The Shields Daily Gazette details how this was done:

All this was successfully accomplished in the early hours of the morning, and through the willing co-operation and courtesy of the proprietors and staffs of the Sunderland Echo and Newcastle Evening Chronicle, acting under a pre-arranged war-time scheme of mutual help, the papers of the Northern Press were on sale as usual the same day. Enormous difficulties had been surmounted by the exercise of a praiseworthy spirit of comradeship, sympathy and understanding on the part of the newspaper rivals.

The damaged newspaper office with Union Flag flying | South Shields Gazette | 29 October 1941

In a final flourish of patriotism, the Shields Daily Gazette notes how:

A few days after the raid the Union Jack was proudly flying on the Barrington Street building announcing to all and sundry that the Shields Gazette ‘family’ was again ‘in residence.’ From then onward it was business as usual.

Meanwhile, the newspaper, by telling this remarkable story, wanted ‘to make public their gratitude to the management and staffs of the Newcastle Chronicle and the Sunderland Echo for their ready help and their great spirit of comradeship on that occasion.’ You can view the copy of the paper that was published against all the odds here.

Updated Titles

This week we have updated eighteen 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.

Title
Years Added
Aris’s Birmingham Gazette 1814
Birmingham Weekly Mercury 1924-1926, 1928-1935, 1996, 1999
Carmarthen Journal 1984
Colonial Standard and Jamaica Despatch 1865, 1867, 1870, 1872, 1874, 1879
Evening Despatch 1902-1903, 1924, 1932
Galloway News and Kirkcudbrightshire Advertiser 1993
Kent Messenger & Gravesend Telegraph 1913, 1919-1930, 1948, 1950, 1966-1967, 1969
Kentish Express 1973
Lewisham Borough News 1958
Mirror (Trinidad & Tobago) 1899-1900, 1912-1913, 1916
North & South Shields Gazette and Northumberland and Durham Advertiser 1851, 1853-1855, 1860
Nottingham Evening Post 1956
Ottawa Free Press 1910
Shields Daily Gazette 1898, 1905, 1907-1909, 1912-1915, 1917-1918, 1920-1945, 1953-1955
Sports Argus 1980, 1983, 1985-1986, 1989, 1992, 1995-1996
Stockton & Billingham Herald & Post 1993
Surrey Herald 1988
Voice of St. Lucia 1889

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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