PRINTED AND PUBLISHED, EVERY SATURDAY MORNING, BT JAMES BUROESS - PLACE, CASTLE STREET, HINCKLEY, IN THE COUNTY OF LEICESTER
In 1989 the centenary of the Hinckley Times will take place but it was by no means the first local newspaper. At least two Hinckley local papers preceded the Hinckley Times, one being the Hinckley Journal, recently revived as the title of a weekly advertising paper. The original Hinckley Journal apparently enjoyed but a brief existence at the end of the 1850s and the only copies which I have been able to trace are numbers 12, 13 and 14 which were preserved by A. J. Pickering and are now in the collection at the John Cleveland College. The Hinckley Journal was Printed and published, every Saturday Morning, by James Burgess, Raglan Place, Castle Street, Hinckley, in the County of Leicester. Two copies which are the subject of this article, Numbers 12 and 13, were issued on May 7th and May 14th 1859. They provide an interesting insight into the commercial and social life of Hinckley at that time. The place of publication, no doubt commemorating the Commander in Chief of Britain’s victorious forces in the Crimea, no longer exists and indeed does not appear on the Ordnance Survey large scale plan of Hinckley of 1887. At the price of 1d and a circulation of 1,000 the proprietors were determined ‘to make it the best, as it is the cheapest, Paper circulated throughout the locality’.
It was a journal designed to appeal to a wide range of local interests with the offer that 'servants wanting places (could) insert two or three lines in the Hinckley Journal for 6d’. This effort to meet the servant problem was matched on the front page, exclusively reserved for advertisement, with reference to numerous local business interests, names still well-known today but usually in a different connection. Mrs. William Pridmore’s Millinery, Mantle and Dressmaking Establishment of Castle Street, stood in need of apprentices and received a Parisian fashion book weekly. J. Payne dealt in flour in Castle Street and Flavells supplied grocery and tea specialising in 'Real Home-Cured Bacon and Hams’. The services of various stallions were advertised; Warwickshire Lad, Iron Duke and Young Oxford, a reflection of the agrarian nature of the community. With the coming of steam power to the hosiery trade advertisements for, 'Capital stocking frames’ were to be found.
Public notices reflected a wide variety of local concerns. In No. 12 a £5 reward was offered for information leading to the apprehension of, ‘Some malicious & evil-disposed person or persons who did, on the night of Wednesday 20th inst., enter the Garden and Greenhouse belonging to Mr. Thomas Payne & wilfully and maliciously destroy a large quantity of plants growing there’. For those who were suffering from ill health, not cured by the Hinckley Mineral Baths, ‘the Great Ambassador of Health to All Mankind - Holloways Pills', was widely recommended.
The four pages of the Hinckley Journal contained two centre pages with coverage of national and foreign news. The short lived Derby & Disraeli Ministry of 1858-59 was the subject of political news. A speech by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Disraeli, was described in No. 12 of the Journal as being, ‘A long and elaborate speech, delivered with all the appearance of calmness and responsibility’. Since the opinion of historians and of contemporaries on the skill of Disraeli as a financial expert is highly critical to say the least, one can freely speculate on the political persuasion of Mr. James Burgess, the Editor’. The coverage of international events, far away from Hinckley, concentrated on the conflict in Italy where Austria was engaged in a struggle with the Italians, supported by France, in their efforts to gain independence and unity.
Local news contained a review of the late election and gave a history of the constituency of South Leicestershire. The Conservative members had, in those: days of dual member constituencies, been returned unopposed. Mr. C. W. Packe had represented the constituency since 1836 and on the previous Monday had been returned for the seventh time. He shared the seat with Lord Curzon. In the correspondence columns of the paper, Charles Packe thanked his supporters for, ‘That renewal of unabated confidence1, and this was followed by a letter expressing similar sentiments and signed, ‘Your obliged and faithful servant, Curzon, Gopsall, 3rd May 1859’.
Other local intelligence to be found on the back page included the reports of the Gas Company monthly meeting which noted that all but eight of the accounts had been paid. The monthly report of the Board of Guardians with John Campion in the chair and with 20 guardians present conducted, 'Business of the usual routine character'. Of more significance was, ‘A narrow Escape at Atkins New Factory’. A report recorded the following Details; 'On Wednesday last, as one of the workmen employed in sinking the well at Messrs. Atkins new factory in Bond Street was lowering the tub in an incautious manner, the roller of the windlass got off its axis and fell into the well, the man following headmost. The bystanders were horror-struck but to their astonishment he was got out with only a few scratches - comparatively unhurt’.
Supporters of the Temperance Movement were in attendance, ‘On Monday and Tuesday in the Corn Exchange.... at a lecture On the Evils of Intemperance’. The lecturer, Rev. J. Messer of London, was listened to, ‘With most earnest attention and at the conclusion a number of persons of both sexes signed the pledge’. The middle of the nineteenth century was an age of public piety and great interest in religion. Reports of sermons abound and Burbage as ever held a prominent place in the community. Mr. Waite of Rugby, preaching at the Weslyan Chapel, noted in a voice which was, ‘loud, rich and musical’ the following attributes of the Sunday School: 'This school of ours is the pride of the village & well it may be. The cleanliness, the respectability, the intelligence, and the general satisfactory state of the children, is all that their patrons and teachers can reasonably expect'. Some 230 children were in regular attendance at the school, a tribute to the elite position of Burbage in the local community’.
No.13 of the Hinckley Journal contained a similar selection of advertisements relating to local popular businesses, cures and crimes. One particular notice worthy of mention referred to the Free School: 'Testimonial to the Master and Mistress of the Hinckley Free School, Mr. & Mrs. Francis Oliver for their faithful services during the period of 20 years. A meeting of their old pupils at the George Hotel has agreed to open a subscription which has already reached £50'.
This edition attempted to revive interest in the railway which bore fruit some three years later. Under the heading, 'New Postal Regulations for Hinckley’, the editor noted: 'The foundation of another “tall chimney” has been laid during the past week; give us but the "iron link to connect us with the markets and our present race of manufacturers will place Hinckley in her old and natural place in the county.
Various new developments were coming thick and fast. An article extolling the Co-operative movement was followed by a report on the new Penny Savings Bank, established on 19th February. The Journal of May 14th recorded that there were now some 267 depositers and that the funds in the bank now exceeded £40. The nightingale which had, 'taken up its residence near to Sketchley Hall, the residence of Mrs. Milhouse', had something to sing about'.
Correspondence in the paper related to various local issues but one letter in particular attracted attention. T. & G. Harrold, mentioned elsewhere in this edition of the Historian, had written to the editor of the Hinckley Journal denouncing the writer of an earlier letter which was, 'Characterised with deliberate falsehood, & such misstatement of the facts, that we decline answering any more of his communications'. The letters had been in reference to earlier litigation in which T. & G. Harrold had been involved.
These represent the gleanings of two of the three Hinckley Journals still extant. They represent Hinckley life at a time when a new steam age was to begin in the town affecting both industry and transport, and thus the life of the whole community, placing Hinckley, 'In her old and natural place in the county'.
Author: Hugh Beavin
Written for: Hinckley Historian Magazine