This week at The Archive we are delighted to bring you three brand new titles from across England, Wales and Scotland, as we welcome 294,073 brand new pages to our collection this week. Meanwhile, from Aberdare to Aldershot, from Dorking to Dumfries, from Neath to Nottingham, we have updated 73 of our existing titles from across the British Isles.
Read on to discover more about all of our new and updated titles of the week, and also to learn about a devastating fire which ravaged a model lodging house in Glasgow in November 1905 and led to the death of 39 men.
And we begin our look at this week’s new titles in Scotland, and we’re delighted to introduce the Peebles News to our collection. Founded in 1887 as the Peebles News and Effectual Advertiser, this charming and thorough local paper served the town of Peebles in the Scottish Borders, which historically was a royal burgh and the county town of Peeblesshire.
Costing just one halfpenny, the Peebles News was politically independent and was printed by J.A. Kerr, who ran other printing operations from the newspaper’s offices. Filling eight pages, the newspaper took a look at local news, for example reporting on the latest from Peebles Free Church, and containing thorough notes from the town council. These reports from the town council range immensely in subject: from addressing the ‘trees at Cuddyshire’ to looking at ‘pleasure boats on the Tweed,’ from discussing ‘horse brushes for the streets’ to updates on ‘football at Tweedgreen.’
Indeed, the Peebles News had a particular focus on sport, with a section entitled ‘Football Notes,’ which traced the results of the local Peebles team, whilst containing other league tables. It wasn’t just football, however, with which this newspaper was concerned; it also detailed rugby results, and printed a fixture list for both sports. Furthermore, the Peebles News, which appeared every Saturday, also took a look at one of the newest sports of the time: cycling.
Meanwhile, the Peebles News looked beyond the town where it was published to present a section entitled ‘Current Topics,’ which featured news from across Britain and Ireland, and from further afield. A particularly interesting section in this newspaper was the ‘Man on the Street’ column, which contained thoughts on current events, written in the local dialect.
From Peebles to Ramsbottom now, and we’re delighted to welcome the Ramsbottom Observer to The Archive, which was founded a few years after the Peebles News, in April 1890. Liberal in its politics, the Ramsbottom Observer appeared every Friday at the cost of two pence in the Lancashire market town of Ramsbottom, which now is part of the Metropolitan Borough of Bury, in Greater Manchester.
This varied, informative newspaper contained news from across the country, as well as printing an array of general interest pieces, which discussed everything from the ‘Navies of the World’ to cats, from the ‘quaint old custom’ of mumming, to a look at how ‘Japanese girls are trained.’ Meanwhile, sitting alongside serialised fiction, you can find in the Ramsbottom Observer ‘Social Sermonettes for Working Men,’ as well as poetry, and a ‘Young Folk’s Column,’ which was authored by Cousin Kate.
As well as publishing ‘Notes on Passing Events,’ which addressed events in Britain and the rest of the world, and ‘Personal Gossip,’ which looked at the latest from court and the stage, the Ramsbottom Observer also looked at local and district news. For example, the newspaper contained the latest from the Ramsbottom Urban Council District meetings, as well as detailing the week’s bankruptcies and accidents.
Like the Peebles News, the Ramsbottom Observer also displayed a particular penchant for sport, reporting on the latest football news, as well as publishing a column entitled ‘Cycling News & Gossip.’
We now move to Wales to welcome our third and final new title of the week, which is Denbigh’s Vale Advertiser. Launched in the market town of Denbigh in North Wales in 1992 as the freesheet counterpart to the Denbighshire Visitor, the Vale Advertiser served the Vale of Clwyd, taking in the towns of Denbigh and Ruthin, and the cathedral city of St Asaph.
In June 2008 this title was relaunched as Your Vale, but sadly it last appeared only a few months later in December 2008, when the Denbighshire Visitor became free.
That’s it from our new titles of the week, but it’s certainly not it from our updated titles this week. Highlights from our 73 updated newspaper titles this week include the nearly 40,000 brand new pages that we have added to the Nottingham Guardian, whilst we have added over 27,000 new pages to the Hinckley Times, and over 18,000 new pages to the Torbay Express and South Devon Echo.
The Watson Street Model Lodging House Fire – Glasgow, 1905
Form the 1830s onwards, various philanthropic organisations established model lodging houses across the United Kingdom, which aimed to create healthy and low-cost housing for the working classes. Also known as workers’ hostels, these buildings often contained large dormitories, and could house hundreds of people at a time.
One of these model lodging houses was located in Watson Street, Glasgow, and was known as No. 2, Model Lodging House. This was a fairly new building, which was owned by Messrs. Nicol and Miller, when tragedy struck in November 1905.
One of our new newspaper titles this week, the Peebles News on 25 November 1905, contains information regarding the ‘catastrophe’ which had struck the Scottish city six days before, on 19 November 1905. It reports how ‘the calm of Sunday was rudely disturbed in Glasgow this week where a model lodging house went on fire.’
The article continues:
Of the cause of the outbreak little is known, but its horrifying and disastrous consequences in a building divided by wooden partitions into hundreds of bunks or cubicles can easily be imagined, and also might have been lessened had those responsible for the licensing of such ‘homes’ been more strict or shown more forethought.
Indeed, one can only imagine the horror that had struck the inhabitants of No. 2 Model Lodging House, 39 Watson Street, that fateful November night. And although ‘the firemen were soon on the spot,’ 39 men, out of the 368 men that were staying there, tragically lost their lives.
The Peebles News, meanwhile, alludes to some ‘heroic deeds in rescue work,’ which were ‘notably’ carried out by a plumber named Findlay. The newspaper is highly critical of the ‘get rich civilisation,’ which caused the men to be ‘driven out, in the cold of a November Sabbath morning literally without a stich to cover them.’
The newspaper described how:
At ten minutes to six the Central Fire Brigade was summoned to an outbreak in No. 2, Model Lodging House, belonging to Messrs. Nicol and Miller, situated at 39, Watson-street. They had only to travel about five hundred yards, and soon came to the conclusion that the fire was a serious one, as the flames could be distinctly seen through a dense fog which prevailed at the time.
The building, one of four storeys and attics, was filled with men to the number of 368, while an adjoining model lodging house, called No. 1 and divided by a narrow street, contained some five hundred men.
Upon entering the building, the fire brigade were met by ‘a crowd of practically naked and panic-stricken men,’ as they desperately tried to flee the building. The firemen swept the building with ‘copious flows of water,’ managing to rescue ‘thirty-two men, who appeared more dead than alive.’ These men were quickly removed by ambulance to a nearby infirmary.
The Chard and Ilminster News, furthermore, contains a vivid eyewitness account from one of the survivors from the model lodging house, John McNab, who is described by the newspaper as being ‘a one-legged man, who had only a blanket about him.’ McNab’s testimony of waking up to discover the fire is a chilling one:
When the alarm of fire was raised I was sound asleep in the attic, where there were, I believe, some thirty men. I did not know what was up. I heard crackling, and smelt smoke, and before I completely came to myself I heard shouts of ‘The place is on fire!’ everywhere. Each man seemed to rush to the door, but whether they all got down the stairs, I could not say, for the fire was in the flat below, and I could hear it roaring as well as see the glare.
I thought I was to be burned to death, for the doorway was a mass of flame. A man named Jack Findlay, I believe he was a slater, did an act which deserves the Victoria Cross. He took my crutch, broke an attic window, got on to the roof, and pulled up quite a number of men. I was helpless, as was also a paralytic man and a blind man. We could hear some crying. I don’t how the others escaped.
McNab and the others left behind waited, but Findlay had not forgotten them. Findlay returned, and helped them up, guiding them along the roof to a ladder, where they were able to get onto a lower building in Graeme Street, and escape the flames from there.
Words fail to tell how cool and collected and brave was Findlay. Not only was his task a difficult and precarious one to save me, but he guided each step of the blind man, placing his feet where they were to go, and patting his hands on to what he was to hold by. When Findlay reached the street the crowd heard what he had done they cheered him tumultuously.
Findlay no doubt had saved McNab’s and the others’ lives, and his picture was reproduced by the press of the day, as he was heralded as a hero. And new national the Daily Mirror was quick to print pictures of the scene of the tragedy, marking an important milestone in journalism, as the aftermath of the catastrophe was captured for readers to see across the country.
This week we have updated 73 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.