One hundred and forty years ago today!!
THE CORNISHMAN 18 July 1878 vol I no 1, price One Penny
The brand-new newspaper printed in Penzance has eight pages with advertisements on the front and back.
We have to read through to page four in order to reach the editorial where the editor greets the reader, wishes him [not her] health and happiness and a long and agreeable mutual acquaintance. The Cornishman will aim to labour for ‘One and All’, and to be impartial; to promote the good and the right, unity and joint action. All friends, supporters and advertisers are thanked and it concludes with the inevitable over-long poem.
As to any publication then and now, advertisers are clearly important and this first issue includes many types of business which have now totally disappeared from our commercial scene: Oppenheim’s Great Furnishing Mart; N Holman and Sons, Engineers, Machinists & Implement Agents & Makers; J Jordan, Book and Music Seller, Stationer and Printer; G Robinson and Co, Oil, Color, Lead & Glass-Merchants & Importers, Wholesale Grocers, Drysalters & Ironmongers; JP Blewett, Army and Navy Tailor, Woollen-draper, Ladies’ Habit and Jacket-maker, General Outfitter, and Sewing Machine Dealer. We also read offers of boat trips, lodgings and properties for sale.
Letters to the editor cover the need for a landing stages at Penzance for ladies to embark on boats without getting their feet wet; a plea for more post pillars; the necessity for third class carriages on GWR trains; and how waifs could be usefully occupied by acting as shoe-blacks at the station and at the Esplanade.
Scattered all over the paper are general notices such as dates of forthcoming events; medical observations on how to remove sea-water from the ears; tips from The Garden; promotion of The Bible; the owner of a dangerous dog ordered to pay a victim’s doctor’s bill of 7s 6d; and drunkards fined 5s each and costs.
Before the advent of radio, daily papers and TV it was customary to include national and international news, so here we find an article about the Congress of Berlin which concluded the Russo-Turkish War, and a warning to girls who emigrate to Australia that they not find a husband so quickly as they are no longer be ‘cleared out of the depot by the end of the second day of their arrival’.
Reports are included from Penzance Town Council on improvements to Albert Pier and the insanitary disposal of waste water, the Infirmary, West Penwith Petty Sessions and other topics you would expect to find in a town serving a mining, fishing and farming area.
Threaded through these articles are snippets of local chat considered newsworthy; one of my favourites is The Alphabet of Requisites for a Wife by a Bachelor which covers the gamut of virtues from amiable via dutiful, dignified, faultless, handsome, obedient, submissive, well-formed all the way to young.
Railway time tables (listing the now defunct stations Marazion, Gwinear Road, Carn Brea, Scorrier and Chacewater), tide tables, market days, Births, Marriages & Deaths, and the Post Office list complete the picture.
There is a Miscellaneous section of course, which pretty fairly describes the whole content of the paper as the often haphazard order of articles suggests they were not set in order of importance. However the impression you get is of an extremely lively and growing community.