The Glasgow Echo

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The Glasgow Echo

Postby Toby Dammit » Thu Aug 07, 2014 1:55 pm

On the morning of the presumably freezing fifth of January 1893, sixty compositors turned up for work as usual at the newspaper offices of the Evening Citizen at 24 St Vincent Place (one of the first red sandstone buildings in Glasgow) only to find they had been locked out. A new iron gate was in place and scab labour had been smuggled in the night before and lodged in bunk beds specially fitted in the offices along with a piano for their entertainment and crates of booze.

All the locked out men, "many of them old men" were members of the Typographical Society, a trade union founded back in 1817. They were told they would only be admitted back into the workplace if they gave up membership of the Society and that the Citizen would be a non union paper from now on.

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The rat's nest

Just 4 days later the compositors had been loaned a small printing office at 102 Maxwell Street from which they produced their own newspaper, The Echo, which soon became the Glasgow Echo. In it, as they pointed out in issue 1, they were able to put their side of the story and refute the "lies" coming from the "nest of rats" at St Vincent Place. The following day, January 9 the men took the free paper out onto the streets and distributed twenty thousand copies which found their way all over Britain.

Determinedly radical from the start, a new evening paper in support of the labouring people of Scotland was quickly proposed in issue 2. "Time and again expression has been given to the desire that we, the working classes, had a newspaper devoted to the advocacy of our views on the industrial question." the editor thundered. A limited company was set up and registered at 42 Argyle Street with £16,000 subscribed by ordinary men and women readers. On May 8 the Glasgow Echo became a daily, paid for publication with 150,000 copies printed for that first issue.

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Issue 1

The last "gratis", double crown size version of the Glasgow Echo (no. 32) with its mast head slogan, "Truth against the world" and "guaranteed circulation of 30,000" went out on Friday April 14 1893 and it is a complete set of this free, rank and file publication that is in the collection of the St Bride Library in London. A rare thing. How it ended up there is unfortunately lost in the mists of time. The single bound volume is accompanied by a hand written letter headed "A Lockout - and what became of it" and signed only by "I. E. October 1903".

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At that point St Bride Foundation was a printing school (it is just off Fleet Street) and it's donor wrote "In these days, when relations between the L.S.C. (London Society of Compositors) and their employers are somewhat strained over the question of the proper method of working mechanical appliances in newspaper offices it has been suggested that a complete file of the Glasgow Echo, printed by the locked-out compositors in 1893 might furnish some entertaining reading to the members of the St. Bride's Institute."

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The paper's content consisted mainly of verbatim reports of meetings in support of the locked out men which took place regularly all over Glasgow, reports of other union meetings nationwide, editorials on various subjects including parliamentary debates, letters to the editor (in which one person describes the Echo as "a plucky little sheet"), sarcastic reports from the pickets outside the Citizen offices (including a gleeful piece when one of it's new compositors was jailed for 40 days following a drunken assault on his wife), a would be amusing sketch column, a serialised short story ("Ralph Macpherson: A Story of the Clyde", by "Mungo Tinto") and, come issue 4, the inevitable football and other sports reports began. The back page was taken up by adverts and classified notices. Close to the end of its run saw the introduction of "Piscatorial Notes", a column on fishing and fish farming written by "Captain Cuttle".

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It makes for some rather dry reading today I'm afraid, and with its tiny type a slightly painful one though the editorial in issue 5, January 18 shows how little has changed since 1893 and the current recession. "When all, or nearly all of the material wealth of the country flows into the pockets of the few, need we wonder that among the many there is a scant provision of the necessaries, let alone the comforts of life."

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The letter writer I.E. noted "All the locked-out men had been kept together, and were again reinstated as one companionship, so that everything looked promising and a great triumph for Labour." Unfortunately he concludes that without advertising and with the "envy and jealousies of your own class" the radical paper "slowly but surely declined" until it was bought, ironically, by Viscount Rothermere, founder of the Daily Mail, "the original stockholders receiving back a first and final dividend of 4 shillings in the pound." The compositors old enemy, the Evening Citizen enjoyed a somewhat longer life, folding in 1974.
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Re: The Glasgow Echo

Postby Scotty100 » Thu Aug 07, 2014 5:58 pm

Absolutely a belter of a post. Fascinating! Well done sir.

Thanks
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Re: The Glasgow Echo

Postby Boxer6 » Thu Aug 07, 2014 6:56 pm

Scotty100 wrote:Absolutely a belter of a post. Fascinating! Well done sir.

Thanks


Seconded. I remember the Citizen being delivered of an afternoon after I got in from school. I was always a Record paperboy myself!
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Re: The Glasgow Echo

Postby Toby Dammit » Thu Aug 07, 2014 8:07 pm

Thanks for reading, and a special thanks to Bob, indefatigable head librarian at St Bride Foundation, who, mining his way through the thousands of items archived in the building brought the story of the locked out Glasgow compositors to my attention.
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Re: The Glasgow Echo

Postby Socceroo » Thu Aug 07, 2014 9:35 pm

Fascinating post thanks.
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Re: The Glasgow Echo

Postby edward carolan » Thu Aug 07, 2014 10:54 pm

Essential Hidden Glasgow.
Well done and thank Bob for me.
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Re: The Glasgow Echo

Postby Josef » Thu Aug 07, 2014 11:45 pm

Excellent. Thank you, Toby. Does somewhat remind me of this.

i was also rather liked the Sunday Correspondent, the only Sunday newspaper I've ever bought regularly. I'm sure there's no correspondence between my custom and bankruptcy. Well, probably not.
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Re: The Glasgow Echo

Postby banjo » Fri Aug 08, 2014 11:26 am

fantastic post toby.i well remember the scottish daily news josef.matt mcginn was involved in their protest movement and robert maxwell would bark out instructions to the workers through a hand heldloudspeaker in the building.
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Re: The Glasgow Echo

Postby HollowHorn » Sat Aug 09, 2014 1:58 am

I know more know than I did yesterday, cheers, Toby.
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