Walthamstow Express | British Newspaper Archive


Hot Off The Press – New Titles This Week

This week at The Archive we have reached the milestone of 71 million pages, having added 224,018 brand new pages over the last week alone, alongside one very special new title, the Walthamstow Express. We’ve also updated our existing titles from across the United Kingdom, with significant updates to the likes of the Belfast News-Letter and the Liverpool Daily Post.

So read on to discover more about this week’s new title, the Walthamstow Express, and also to find out which of our existing titles we have updated. Meanwhile, we’re exploring a flying first here at The Archive, as we investigate how pioneering pilot and engineer Alliott Verdon Roe became the first Englishman to fly an all-British machine on the Walthamstow Marshes in July 1909.

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We’re delighted to welcome our new newspaper of the week, the Walthamstow Express, to our collection of London titles. ‘Circulating in Walthamstow, Leyton, and Surrounding Districts,’ this Liberal title was founded in 1857 and appeared every Friday at the cost of one penny.

Despite being named the Walthamstow Express, the title was actually published in nearby Stratford. In the late nineteenth century the town of Walthamstow, historically a part of Essex, was seeing a transformation from a primarily rural settlement to an urban one, thanks to the advent of the railways. The town is now in the London Borough of Waltham Forest.

Filling the eight pages of the Walthamstow Express were mainly items of local news, sourced from East London and Essex. For example, you could read the latest news from the likes of Wanstead, Woodford, Leyton, Barking, Stratford, Silvertown and West Ham, whilst you could also find updates from such organisations as the Essex County Council, the Stratford and East London Fanciers’ Society, the West Ham Hospital, and the Woodford Local Board. Meanwhile, the Walthamstow Express published the latest from the West Ham Borough Police Court, the Essex Quarter Sessions, the Stratford Petty Sessions, and the Ongar Petty Sessions.

The Walthamstow Express also had a particular focus on sport, with a detailed section devoted to football and the results of local teams like Clapton, Ilford and West Ham. Other sports addressed by the paper included golf and athletics. Finally, the Walthamstow Express published notices of births, marriages and deaths, as well as providing lists of internments in local cemeteries, like the West Ham Cemetery.

That may be it from our wonderful new title the Walthamstow Express, but we have also made extensive additions to our existing titles this week. We are excited to have added over 93,000 brand new pages to the Liverpool Daily Post, whilst over 61,000 brand new pages join Belfast’s oldest newspaper and longest-running general English language newspaper the Belfast News-Letter. Meanwhile, we have added over 55,000 brand new pages to Devon title the Torbay Express and South Devon Echo, whilst new pages join the Denbigh-based version of the Liverpool Daily Post.

A Flying First – A.V. Roe Takes Off in the Walthamstow Marshes

To celebrate the addition of the Walthamstow Express this week, we thought we’d take a look at a Walthamstow first. Indeed, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries Walthamstow was home to a variety of technological innovations, with Frederick Bremer in 1892 building the first British motor car in his workshop in the town. But it’s a flying first we’re going to be looking at this week, and the achievement of pioneering pilot and engineer Alliott Verdon Roe (1877-1958), who was more commonly known as A.V. Roe.

In July 1909 A.V. Roe became the first English person to fly an all British machine, a triplane, taking off from and landing on the Walthamstow Marshes. At the time, British flying technology lagged behind such nations as France and the United States, and so this was a remarkable achievement. As such, A.V. Roe’s pioneering flight was reported on by national newspaper the Daily Mirror on 24 July 1909:

At Leyton Marsh yesterday, Mr. A.V. Roe accomplished a flight of 300 yards, about 9ft., from the ground, in his aeroplane. He is entering for The Daily Mail £1,000 prize for the first circular mile flight in a heavier-than-air machine of entirely British manufacture.

The Walthamstow Marshes and the Leyton Marshes border each other, hence the use of that particular location in the report. Another report about A.V. Roe’s flight appeared a few weeks later in the Yorkshire Evening Post, on 7 August 1909, a report that appears to have been widely syndicated in the press at the time:

Mr A.V. Roe, a young aeronaut, claims to have built the first British-built aeroplane. It is at present at Leyton Marshes in a small ground. The plane, or triplane, is an exceedingly light contrivance, weighing 300lb., including the nine horse-power Jap engine. With it Mr. Roe has made many short flights.

It was sporting title the The Sportsman on 6 August 1909 that went into more detail on the Walthamstow flight, publishing an article entitled ‘Aviation in England.’ It was at pains to point out the slow progress that was being made in Britain in the field of aviation when compared to other countries, but it did flag the achievements of American-born Samuel Franklin Cody and of course, A.V. Roe.

The Sportsman piece noted how:

…Mr A. V. Roe…came into prominence by winning the model aeroplane competition at the Alexandra Palace some time ago, has been quietly rehearsing on Leyton Marshes, and has now travelled two hundred yards at a height of about eight feet.

The article went on to note the difficulties with which A.V. Roe was faced:

This does not sound much in the days of cross-Channel flights, but there is more in it than meets the eye, for Mr Roe is severely handicapped by the space at his disposal for testing. On a suitable ground there does not appear any reason why he should not fly for several miles, but owing to the limits which he is confined he cannot use a motor of more than ten h.p. Consequently he has not sufficient length in which to attain the height necessary for him to able to make a successful turn, but this should be overcome by a better ground. His machine ought to have plenty of lifting power, for it is a tri-plane, which at the moment does not seem to be in the line of progress, for the most rapid conquest is undoubtedly being made with the monoplane.

Indeed, the inhabitants of the Walthamstow and Leyton area were not at all helpful in aiding A.V. Roe’s aeronautic aspirations, The Sportsman relating how:

On the question of grounds Mr Roe will have to seek a site elsewhere in any case, as he is being driven from Leyton in a manner typical of the slow-thinking Britisher. He has, naturally, been using that part of the land where the grass is kept short, and where it is moderately level. Recently, however, he was warned off by a policeman, and was forced to go the long grass, upon which, it happens, some of the inhabitants have grazing rights. A bailiff accused him of damaging the grass, and again he was made to quit.

A.V. Roe was not put off, though, by his early experiments in Walthamstow. In January 1910 he founded the A.V. Roe Aircraft Company, which was later renamed as Avro Aircraft. This Manchester-based company would go on to supply many thousands of planes to the Royal Flying Corps, and later, to the Royal Air Force.

Find out more about the early history of aviation, pioneering pilots like A.V. Roe, and much more besides, in the pages of our Archive today.

New Titles
TitleYears Added
Walthamstow Express1894, 1897-1899
Updated Titles

This week we have updated four 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.

TitleYears Added
Belfast News-Letter1971-1976, 1979-1981, 1984, 1986
Liverpool Daily Post1956-1957, 1959, 1969-1971, 1974, 1978, 1980-1981, 1983, 1985-1986, 1991-1992
Liverpool Daily Post (Welsh Edition)1957-1959
Torbay Express and South Devon Echo1987-1989, 1992, 1995

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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