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100-up for paper 'rooted at the heart of the community'

The Exeter Express and Echo is celebrating its centenary year – and everyone is invited to join the party.

Born out of two successful titles, the Western Echo and the Devon Evening Express, the first issue cost half an old penny.

Since then, more than 31,000 daily editions have been produced with virtually no disruption. The Echo even survived a Blitz of Exeter in 1942 that left much of the city centre destroyed.

Editor Steve Hall said: “The Echo has always seen itself as far more than just a chronicler of events – it has helped to guide development of the city and its campaigns have changed laws.

“It has been successful because it has always been rooted at the very heart of its community. That’s where we plan to remain.”

To kick off the celebrations, readers of the evening paper have been asked to nominate their Echo Heroes of the past one hundred years.

The Echo plans to commemorate all those who have made a significant contribution to Exeter and the heart of Devon area during that time.

In addition, Echo Heroes of 2004 are being sought – with the aim of finding ten local achievers in a number of different categories.

A party at Exeter University’s Great Hall on October 1, the paper’s actual birthday, will bring the festivities to a climax.

Milestones in the Express & Echo’s history:
1904: The first registration of cars in Exeter recorded 12 motor vehicles in the city.
1905: The Electric Tramway opened in Exeter.
1911: No rain fell in Sidmouth for 16 consecutive days in May.
1912: The MS Lapland came into Plymouth bringing 167 survivors from the wreck of the Titanic.
1913: Two trams collided in Queen Street, Exeter.
1914: The St Thomas Rural District Council discussed public concerns of infection from the city’s consumptive sanatorium and complaints that patients had visited shops in Pinhoe as well as the post office.
1916: The death of Harry Hems, noted Exeter sculptor and writer.
1921: The competitors in the Daily Mail Circuit of Great Britain aeroplane race landed at Exeter.
1922: Two hundred people came to the first annual dance of the Exeter Ping Pong League at Deller’s Cafe in Exeter. The Syncopated Orchestra provided musical diversion.
1926: At Newton St Cyres, the tarmac caught fire while the road was being repaired.
1929: The three elephants, 14 lions 12 polar bears, seven leopards, 10 zebras, 10 Bengal tigers, 10 bears, 200 monkeys, 20 apes, two hyenas, two pumas, four pelicans and four sea lions of Chapman’s London Olympia Zoo performed in Exeter.
1929: Complaints were made in Exmouth of the Sunday sixpenny excursionists from Exeter who became intoxicated and “went about the streets looking up at windows shouting rude remarks”.
1930: Appearing at Exeter Hippodrome were Fred Roper and his ‘wonderful midgets’.
1940: The badly-damaged cruiser HMS Exeter returned to Devonport after her battle with the Graf Spee off the River Plate.
1941: The Luftwaffe launched the start of a bombing blitz on Plymouth in which hundreds died and thousands of buildings destroyed.
1942: Clyst Honiton children collected 510 eggs for the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital Egg Week.
1943: Walt Disney’s film Bambi played at the Exeter Savoy.
1948: Tourism was expected to be much boosted in Devon by knitted bathing costumes being released from rationing.
1951: It was reported that holly hunters had arrived in East Devon to find few berries on the trees.
1970: Former TV Avenger Diana Rigg’s nude scene helped ticket sales for the opening night of Abelard and Eloise at Exeter’s Northcott Theatre.
1978: Snowstorms swept through Devon with drifts up to 4ft deep.

(Research: thanks to Dr Todd Gray)

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