Page 6 - January 2015
P. 6

alone. However, behind the tapestry of tragic        the machine, it happened that on Thursday
events happening abroad, life at a local level       evening not a line of the paper was in type.
went on, and the Gazette duly reported, often        Friday dawned, and the pale glimmer of early
in minute detail, all the usual local news,          morn revealed a haggard Editor struggling to
and carried enough advertising to suggest            town [London] in the fastest available car with
that world events had not yet had too great          his “copy” in order to have it set up on the
an effect on the local economy. There was            Monotype machine. At the moment of writing
an on-going issue of some posts and chains           a wire has come that some of the “galleys” are
erected illegally outside a property, causing        en route for Epping.”
some entertaining editorial comments about
a certain councillor and his allegation that         In one issue, the editor writes a column of
the editor was not showing impartiality in           useful advice to advertisers, in which he
the reporting of it. There were court reports        explains that readers, faced with a front page
of all the usual minor transgressions of law,        entirely consisting of advertising (which was
such as carters who fell asleep while their          common to many local papers at the time),
horses made their way home. In fact, one of          often turned the page immediately, thus
these appears to have been a distant relative        rendering useless the advertisements.
of mine, one “Hugh Owers, Beauchamp                  He explains that this is why, in the re-design,
Roothing, carman”, who, when woken up at             the front page of the Gazette now carries only
Abridge by a policeman, thought he was still in      news, with advertising carefully displayed
Woodford. “For being asleep while in charge          alongside news on the inside pages. I can
of a horse and wagon [ . . .] fined 5s.” Cases       recall The Times still persisting with blanket
that came up not only mentioned drivers              front-page advertising into the 1960s, so it
and cyclists riding without lights, but also an      seems that the Gazette was well ahead with
increasing number later in the year with lights      its views.
that were too bright; the fear of Zeppelin raids
hung over the country, and shopkeepers too           A rather more serious issue arose in July.
fell foul of night-time lighting restrictions. This  The front page on 10th July started with
was at a time when shops stayed open late            this paragraph: “At the Epping Police Court
into the evening. Insurance against Zeppelin         on Friday, Mr. Lionel Valdar, Editor of the
attacks was advertised and purchased for             “West Essex Gazette,” was charged under
notable buildings such as St John’s Church.          the Defence of the Realm Act for publishing
                                                     information with respect to the description
The alarming news on the front page of the           and disposition of certain of His Majesty’s
second issue of the year announced that the          ships, and also for publishing information
Gazette compositor had enlisted for foreign          concerning certain naval operations.”
service—‘Fighting before Printing!’ as the           This was not as serious a case as first appears.
subhead gamely announced. Inside, the Editor         It seems that the information had previously
craved “the indulgence of our readers for any        appeared in other, more distinguished
deficiencies in this issue”, blames himself for       newspapers, and that this prosecution should
writing such stirring articles about recruiting      probably never have gone as far as a court
that the compositor was lost to the cause,           case. The Bench realised this, and instead of
and then continues: “Since no other member           imposing a possible £100 fine let the editor off
of the printing office staff could operate            with £2, presumably as a mild warning for the

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