Book-Bits from London, Greater London, England on December 5, 1896 · Page 6
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Book-Bits from London, Greater London, England · Page 6

London, Greater London, England
Issue Date:
Saturday, December 5, 1896
Page 6
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:*r><; DAILY CHRONICLE. As in the case of a human being, so News- in the case of a newspaper, the con- L^mrts. ditions of birth exert a permanent influence upon its subsequent career. It may seem free as air to go where it will—and so in a sense it is—for there are boundaries even to the air. There is an old story of a parish clerk, who, when nailing list round a draughty church door, was rebuked by his vicar in the words, " The wind bloweth where it listeth," and replied, " Yes, parson, and man listeth where it bloweth." The clerk was evidently a wag, but his words contain the germ of a serious truth—that even freedom has its limits. I believe that the grooves along which a newspaper shall run are laid down in the beginning, and though within them it may deviate to the right or to the left, it must go forward along them to the end. A violent attempt has sometimes been made to break into a new channel, but I cannot recall a single instance which has not resulted disastrously. Perhaps no paper illustrates this So it is. a9 ^ ac ^ better than the Daily Chronicle. It was started over forty years ago as a local paper in Clerkenwell, and to this day it remains, more than any other, the Londoner's paper. It has long passed away from its founder to new proprietors ; it has had several different editors and managers ; there have been many changes in its staff ; it has shown extraordinary enterprise in the pursuit of novelties, foreign intelligence, and early war news; it aims at being (to quote the words of Mr. W. J. Fisher, assistant editor), ' a live journal, thoroughly up-to-date" ; yet n spite of all these things, the features mpressed upon it at its birth are impressed upon it still. The most casual observer has but to turn over its pages to see that London is its chief concern. In the com-, pleteness with which it depicts everyday life in the metropolis, it is a long way ahead of its rivals. In the Business and Agency o "iSS! e Gazette > started in January, 1855, " the Daily Chronicle had its origin. That paper was a little four-page sheet devoted exclusively to advertisements, and distributed gratuitously amongst the residents in Clerkenwell. As the rate for advertisements was unusually low, the proprietor hoped to get enough of them to cover all expenses and to yield a profit. In May, finding that his hope had not been realised, he introduced local intelligence and altered the title to the Clerkenwell News. In this form it was sold at a halfpenny. The Clerlcenwell News soon proved The First a success. It was the first of the JJ2aJ n London local papers, and it had the field to itself. Tear by year it grew in size, more space being required both for news and for advertisements. It began to appear twice a week, then thrice, then four times; in February, 1866, becoming more ambitious, it changed its title to the Clerlcen­ well News and London Times ; and in April of the same year it came out as a daily, the price being still a halfpenny, except when double numbers were published. Three years later the second half of the title was printed in such prominent type that the proprietors of the Times felt bound to interfere. They brought an action against the trespasser on tjieir grounds, and as the result the title was ebaiaged to the London Daily Chronicle and Clerlienwell News, The change does not seem A Biff Price. to have checked its prosperity, for in 1876 its value was estimated at £30,000, at which price it was purchased by Mr. Edward Lloyd. Mr. Lloyd had already shown his Owner?" capacity tor journalistic management. Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper, which he had started as the Illustrated London Newspaper in November, 184-2, six months after the appearance of the Illustrated London News, was already a great success, for while its circulation was far short of what is claimed for it now—over a million copies—it had considerably out-distanced its competitors. The profits derived from it were increased by the fact that Mr. Lloyd made his own paper. He hud, at an early period in his career, established mills at Bow, and when the foulness of the river Lea rendered paper-making there impossible, he removed them to Sittingbourne. » At the present moment these mills Resources. are the finest in the kingdom. According to Mr. Massingham, they can turn out three hundred tons of paper 5. 180(5 Photo by Russell and Sons. MR. H. W. MASSINGHAM. a week, and they supply the material not merely for the Daily Chronicle and Lloyd's Weekly, but also for many other journals in the United Kingdom and in the Colonies. Here are stacked the huge masses of timber and esparto grass, which are eventually converted into paper. Although a papermaker named Routledge was the first person in the country to utilise esparto grass, it was Mr. Lloyd who first employed it in any quantity. Indeed, he went farther than that, for with characteristic energy and enterprise he bought a farm in Algeria and cultivated the esparto grass himself. His quickness in taking advantage of any discovery was again shown a few years later. When it was found that a great saving in expense could be effected by using wood instead of, or rather in combination with, esparto grass, Mr. Lloyd promptly established a factory in Norway. With such a proprietor it is no Outi VJ y. won der that the Daily Chronicle a ' did well. Its new proprietor announced his intention of spending his money unstintedly upon it, and during the first five years of his ownership he actually did spend, in addition to the purchase-money, £125,000. J large sum undoubtedly, but not excessive considering the enormous expenses' of a daily paper and the object which he had in view. Mr. Lloyd first set about reeon- MaJking structing the premises in Fleet ea ' Street, all the rooms being almost entirely built of iron and concrete, so as to render them fireproof. It may be noted here that if the proposed widening of Fleet Street is carried out, these premises will have to conic down. Several Hoe printing machines were also ordered from New York, each capable of turning out 25,000 copies (printed, cut, folded, and counted) an hour. As there are now eight of these machines at work, the total output can be, if required, 200,000 copies an hour. With Mr. Robert Whelan Boyle as Forward, editor, the Daily Chronicle followed much the same lines as before, ever keeping London in the • foreground, showing no great eagerness for novelty in spite of its Radicalism in politics, and gathering into its columns a vast number of small advertisements which naturally came to it as the successor to the Clerkenwell News. It had, however, an able staff, and pushed gradually to the front, the circulation in 1882 being 70,000 copies. During the Soudan campaign, in which it was represented by Mr. Charles Williams, it advanced rapidly, and when Khartoum fell it was the first paper to make the announcement. When Mr. A. E. Fletcher suc- Breaking ceeded Mr. Boyle, whom he had Ground formerly assisted, the Daily Chronicle began to break fresh ground. It took a firmer tone in politics, and though it has since adopted and afterwards, .abandoned Unionism, it has nevertheless won a definite position for itself, and in its present attitude—defined by Mr. Fisher as Imperial Radicalism—it has a very large body of sympathisers. But there are many who would like to see it cut itself free from party altogether. Its strength seems to lie outside politics, for it is read, not for what it says about Liberal or Conservative, not for the sensationalism which is the mainstay of some other papers, but chiefly for its accurate representation of what is going on around us. In many respects—for example, its capital articles on dress, literature, agriculture, the state of the labour market, and so forth—it suggests more a daily magazine than an ordinary newspaper. Literary men, in particular, owe to the Daily Chronicle a 'debt of gratitude. It devotes a page every day to new books, and its articles are made bright and readable by means of extracts. Before it took the initiative in this matter, a column or so once a week was all the newspapers ever gave to literature, and even then it was usually placed on the advertisement page. " The change has naturally brought us many new readers," said Mr. Fisher, in answer to a question, " and it has greatly increased the influence of the paper." It has also brought fresh advertisements. The Literary Department, which is exceedingly well done, is in the hands of Mr. Henry Norman, the chief assistant-editor. Upon the retirement of Mr. Moving. Fletcnei % P°w the editor of the New Age r the editorship was entrusted to Mr. H. W. Massingham. Under his guidance the Daily Chronicle, while still adhering to its old traditions, has made a notable advance in influence and in popularity. Some idea of the extent of its circulation may be gathered from the fact that the other day, when the present proprietors—

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