AddThis SmartLayers

Daily launches 125th anniversary celebrations

Commemorations of a newspaper’s 125th anniversary began this week with the serialisation of a new book about its history.

The Hull Daily Mail was originally launched in order to get one of its founders elected as a Tory MP.

It succeeded in this aim, but soon committed itself to unbiased reporting in common with most of the rest of the regional press.

Now the paper’s history has been put together by one of its former reporters Barbara Robinson, left, who spent 37 years at the Mail including a spell as the columnist Jane Humber.

Her book, ‘Hull Daily Mail – A Part of the Community,’ looks at the part the paper has played in the life of the city and the East Riding of Yorkshire.

She which she originally planned to finish it in time for the title’s centenary in 1985, but it was finally completed with help from the Mail’s history columnist John Markham, who has written a final chapter recording events of recent years.

The book is being serialised throughout this week in the Northcliffe daily and extracts include:

  • A series of “specials” in 1930 to record the historic solo flight to Australia by Hull’s aviation pioneer Amy Johnson;
  • The Mail’s campaign in 1961 to ensure the entire population of Hull and neighbouring areas were innoculated against polio with the new Salk vaccine;
  • The ritual visit from a Mail reporter, carrying the editor’s condolences, which brought comfort to many hundreds of fishing families who lost loved ones at sea but were robbed of a “proper funeral”.

    Barbara, who started at the Mail as a secretary before becoming a reporter, said: “The editor at the time Bill Sneyd asked me to work on the book in 1980, and I said ‘I don’t know if I can do anything of that magnitude’.

    “I’ve worked on it for so long and hope it will be a success. I think everybody will enjoy it. Every family in this city has grown up with the Hull Daily Mail.”

    The first edition of the Mail, above, was a four-page broadsheet with small advertisements dominating the front page and rolled off the presses on 29 September 1885.

    Publication was uninterrupted even during the Blitz of 1941 when Hitler’s bombs devastated the city.

    For security reasons the location of the bombing could not be identified, with Hull being referred to in reports only as “a North East Coast Town”.

    Other celebrations planned for the year include a reprint of the first edition to coincide with the actual anniversary in September.

    The Mail will also shortly announce its support for a major local appeal, to leave a lasting legacy from the milestone, while readers are being asked to send in their memories of when they appeared in the paper.

    Editor John Meehan said: “Barbara’s book tells a story of local life, as captured through the reporter’s notebook and photographer’s lens.

    “It is a social history as well as the story of how a newspaper survived and prospered, through good times and bad.

    “I have heard so many stories of the ‘old days’ and absorbed so much of the Mail’s heritage, but I still found Barbara’s book utterly absorbing.”

  • One of spreads featuring extracts from Barbara Robinson’s new book