Skegness’ First Newspaper
I have secured copies of the “Skegness Herald” from Number 1 of the 30th June 1882 to Number 79 of the 28th December 1883, 79 4 page broadsheets, folio bound. Also secured are the full years issues from 1884, 1887, 1888, 1901 and 1902.
The Herald was the first newspaper published in this famous Lincolnshire seaside resort.
It’s much more than a local paper, it covers worldwide events. In these issues much prominence is given to countrywide stories, riots, murder, parliament, every week articles on Ireland with a mass of information on the war in Egypt including the famous battle of Tel Al-Kebir in September 1882. When under General Wolseley 24,000 British and 7,000 India troops fought the Khedive Urabi. Dozens of reports from the front.
On the local issues the districts covered were Spilsby, Alford, Wainfleet, Burgh, Chapel and East Lincolnshire. All the usual local stories with much on the resort as it grew into one of our most famous seaside towns. Much on the railways, new steamer services, with a fascinating weekly list of visitors and the hotels they stayed at, 100’s of names showing the hotels they stayed in and where the visitors came from. Articles on boat accidents, rail improvements, account of the Skegness Pier Company, right down to a notice that Skegness shops will now start closing earlier every evening at 7pm
(I wonder what the later closing time was in those days?).
A mine of information for the historian or genealogist, the paper ceased publication in 1916.
A rare find, and extracts will be included in this Old Skegness Newspapers website, sharing them with the people of Skegness and the rest of the world!
As I have mentioned, each issue of the Skegness Herald comprises of four broad sheet pages, each of which is divided into five columns.
As one thumbs through the fist few issues in 1882, a regular pattern to the layout is established.
The entire front page is devoted to advertisements, mainly of the local larger hotels. Samples of the adverts will be photographed and discussed in due course.
The first four columns of page 2 comprises of national and international news. (Let’s remind ourselves that in the 1880s, the general public possessed no radios or televisions, so the newspapers were the only media for circulating world news). I will extract the most newsworthy articles from the world news and add to the website, but, as this is a Skegness website, priority will be given to local news and events. The fifth column is again devoted to advertisements.
Page 3 gives a comprehensive list of the local hotel, their proprietors, their visitors and where they came from. This list expands to a complete spread over two pages as the holiday season progresses. Page 3 of issue one includes news stories from Alford and Spilsby.
The fifth page of the first issue of the Skegness Herald devotes its first two columns to ads. The third column gives a summery of Skegness, the next ads and what’s on. Column 5 is entitles ‘ The Skegness Herald’.
‘Local Intelligence’ on page 6 covers Skegness and neighbouring villages of Wainfleet, Burgh and Hogsthorpe.
Page 7 devotes itself entirely to world news.
The back page depicts a railway timetable and ‘Information for Visitors’.
In all the issues of the Skegness Herald over the complete two year period not one photograph or image is to be found.
The typeface is very small and overall, the newspaper appears very daunting by modern day standards. Some relief is found by more artistic adverts, breaking up the monotony.
The Skegness Herald
Information for Visitors
Tables – rail times, tide times, weather forecasts
Firstly, before commenting on the style of journalism, we must explore what kind of audience the local newspaper was targeting. What kind of people would have bought the Skegness Herald for 1d per issue?
Skegness was quickly gathering momentum as a holiday resort in 1882 when the Herald was launched, and the newspaper contained a guide for visitors section. So the holidaymakers constituted a good slice of the audience. The tourists at that time would have been of literate, middle class status.
The booming seaside trade resulted in a growing local population of business people who were presumably prospering.
So then, let’s analyze the photojournalism of the time.
Unlike the punchy short sentences and relatively simple language used in modern day newspapers, the sentences in the Herald were typically long and rambling. We’ll illustrate this more clearly shortly.