Saturday, 28 May 2011

Goering Commits Suicide

The Star dated 16th October 1946

Days when so little of interest happened that newspapers were forced to feature headlines such as ‘Boy Plays Sax With Ear” were known as ‘Slow News Days’. October 16th 1946 was definitely not a Slow News Day – Hermann Goering commits suicide, 10 Nazi War criminals hang and the hanging of convicted murderer Neville Heath.

Goering had been Hitler’s number 2 and head of the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) during WWII, but, after Hitler’s suicide, he surrendered to The US Army. He was found guilty at the Nuremburg War Crimes Trial and sentenced to death by hanging. On the morning of his execution he was found dead of potassium cyanide poisoning. The third member of the Nazi triumvirate, Heinrich Himmler had committed suicide by the same method in May 1945.

Neville Heath had a chequered history of petty crimes including fraud and posing as military officers for personal gain before he turned to murder. His sadism tainted his relationships with women and it was this proclivity that led to the deaths for which he was tried, convicted and sentence to hang.  On the Wikipedia site it claims that he was hung by Albert Pierrepoint, but, according to the film starring Timothy Spall, Pierrepoint was very busy hanging Nazi war criminals on the same day???

To take your mind off all this morbidity you could turn to the radio or, if you were one of the few hundred people who owned a set and lived near London, the television. The Home Service if you preferred symphony music and World Affairs or the Light programme if Wilfred Pickles was more your cup of tea. Personally I would have listened to the two half hour murder mysteries at 9pm on the Light. Maybe I’m morbid by nature.

Or even spend the evening at the flicks. 1 shilling and 9 pence (8,75p) would buy you 2 films, a cartoon, a newsreel and about three hours breathing an atmosphere that was 90% cigarette smoke. Before the invention of Multi-screen cinemas most districts had one or more of the three major cinema chains, Odeon, ABC and Gaumont, to choose from, each showing a different pair of films.

Friday, 20 May 2011

17 Bodies in Murder Horror

Daily Mirror dated February 11th 1983

According to the last paragraph a man was being held for questioning – one Denis Nilson. Nilson had been a cook in the Army and for a short while a policeman, but now he had admitted to ‘about 15 murders’ – he couldn’t remember quite how many. He was later convicted of 15 murders of young men and 2 attempted murders and is currently serving a ‘whole life’ sentence i.e. never to be release.
The two attempted murders are interesting in that although Nilson admitted at the time he had assaulted the first of the two, but police did not press charges and at the time of the second attempt the police again failed to act putting the incident down to a ‘homosexual domestic’.
He was finally caught out, not by a crack team of Scotland Yard detectives, but by a Dyno-Rod operative who reported suspicious material blocking a drain at Nilson’s home.

An inside page from the same edition

The kidnapping of the 1981 Derby winner Shergar was a long running story with no happy ending. A ransom was never paid and the horse was never seen again.
This article, written 25 years later, claims to uncover what really happened -
If you can tear your eyes away from the picture of Shergar and look for a moment at the picture of the young lady, note the photographer credit at the bottom – Piers Morgan. Could it be the one and only? Could there possibly be more than one? Please say no. The Piers Morgan we all know and… whatever, would have been 18 at the time and two years away from starting a career in the newspaper industry with the South London News.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

My oldest newspaper

John Bull dated September 24th 1827

This is the oldest item in my collection and one of the very few prior to 1900. Call me shallow but I look at it and realise why I prefer 20th century papers. There are no headlines, no pictures and little or no variation from very small (8 point?) text. There is no news on the front page - just produce and market prices.
The John Bull newspaper ran from 1820 to 1892 and this edition is a single sheet printed on both sides and folded to give 8 pages of about the same size as those of a Daily Mirror.

The paper's contents include news of Royal comings and goings (George IV), Old Bailey proceedings, theatre and book reviews, business news, political ranting, a letter from Sir Walter Scott (the author of Ivanhoe etc), sports news (horse racing) and this item -

Whilst creating this blog I noticed how the sentence at the bottom of the previous story continued -

The partially obscured word on the third line is definitely 'DEATH'.  1827 - also known as 'the good old days'.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

New Blog introduction and R101

The idea of this blog is to show the World (or at least a few enlightened souls) some examples from my collection of historical (i.e. old) newspapers. The great majority of the papers are from the 20th Century and are British national publications, although there are a few from the 19th Century, a few foreign papers and a few oddities.
I will endeavour to post once a week with each post including an image of a front cover, possibly one or more items from other pages of the issue, along with background explanations if warranted.

So, to kick-off -

Daily Mirror dated Monday, October 6th 1930
R101 Airship Disaster

It is an unfortunate fact that most surviving individual coies of newspapers (as opposed to runs of papers saved by libraries etc) tend to dwell on wars, deaths and disasters along with the occassional Royal event, so I start with a disaster - the crash of the British Airship the R101 which came down in France.
The R101 was a rigid airship built between 1926 and 1929 at Cardington near Bedford and was the largest man-made flying object in the World at that time. It was built, along with the R100, to provide long distance luxury air travel and provided 50 cabins, a main lounge, a dining room to seat 60 people and promenade decks for viewing the land or sea only 1500 to 2000 feet below.
After test flights it was decided that the ship did not provide enough lifting capacity (i.e. it wouldn’t carry enough cargo and passengers to make it profitable) so during the winter of 1929 and 1930 it was modified.
A proving voyage was planned for October 1930; a 15 day round trip from Cardington to India (Karachi) and back. The R101 left on 4th October with 54 crew and passengers on board and headed over London and across the Channel, passing just to the east of Hastings. The weather was not good with heavy rain and gusting winds. At about 2 a.m. the airship suddenly dived but was levelled out at about 250 feet. This was not a healthy altitude because the craft was 777 feet long. Another dip of the nose brought the ship into contact with the ground. It was only doing about 13 mph at this point so settled onto the ground pretty well intact. Unfortunately almost immediately the flammable hydrogen gas caught fire and gutted the ship. 48 of the 54 people aboard lost their lives.
Work on her sister ship, the R100, was stopped and all plans for further airships abandoned. 

Back page -

On a different note from the same edition - Going out but with nothing to wear? How about antelope or skunk or even your favourite pony?