As we celebrate our 120th birthday, a big thank you to you, our dear readers
PUBLISHED: 07:00 17 September 2018
Today - September 17, 2018 - the Recorder celebrates 120 years since the publication of its first edition, and to mark the prestigious occassion, we are thrilled to take a look back at the last 12 decades we have spent serving the different communities of Redbridge.
Back in 1898, the entire newspaper was produced from a small premises to the rear of Ilford Broadway – it had been founded by local businessmen Benjamin Brooks and Leonard Randall.
Their small newspaper prospered well enough that by 1900 they were able to establish South Essex Recorders Ltd, with a capital of £3,000 in £1 shares.
The fledgling business moved to large offices in 2, Cranbrook Road, and had a printing press installed in the basement.
A linotype machine, back then the cutting edge of newspaper manufacturing, was also installed in the premises’ front window to wow passing readers.
Incredibly, the team numbered just 10 people – two writers, one of whom was also the editor, and the rest were printers and distributors.
There are no reliable records of the sales of the paper in those early years, but a somewhat bold boast on the front page of one early edition claimed its circulation was “guaranteed to be more than six times that of any local newspaper”.
Tragically, not a single copy of the first four years of the Recorder’s output has survived – the British Library holds the oldest preserved copy, which dates back to 1902.
However, there do exist in diaries and other public records some interesting stories from those times.
In particular, it is known that upon hearing of the death of Queen Victoria on January 22 1901, Recorder staff joined the vast majority of Ilford residents in downing tools and congregating outside town hall to hold a spontaneous vigil – the District Council adjourned all meetings and parish bells tolled in mourning throughout the day.
There was also, in this early period of the paper’s life, the momentous issue where our reporters celebrated “a new epoch in the history of our town” when Ilford switched over its streetlights from gas to electricity.
In 1902, when the Recorder reported on an outbreak of measles that sadly killed two small children, Ilford has just 5,345 houses, but soon the population skyrocketed, and within a few years had hit 40,000. This continued to rise as industries and commercial enterprises set up shop in the area.
Naturally, a rapid expansion of the town’s infrastructure followed.
Modern water supplies and sewage works were installed, and the council began building a number of new schools and public transport services to ensure the town was ready to thrive in coming years.
By 1903, it became necessary for the paper to move once again to keep up with this incredible growth, and new offices were secured nearer to the station in Ilford High Road.
There the paper’s offices would remain until the 1950s, when for economic reasons management decided to sell their Ilford office and move further down the road towards Seven Kings.
In the following decades the paper would bring Ilford residents the latest news from two World Wars, as well as covering huge stories that affected the entire population.
On January 1, 1915, the Recorder published a special edition detailing the horrifying story that unfolded when 10 people were killed and 80 injured when two trains collided at Ilford Station.
A Clacton Express train and the 8.37am fast train into London from Seven Kings had hit one another, and Recorder reporters were the first to break the news with exclusive interviews from survivors at the scene, as well as railway officials and the emergency services.
Since those early days, it has been this paper’s honour and privilege to continue to serve its community in the very same fashion.
We have, in more recent years supported campaigns to protect the A&E at King George Hospital, to Save Oakfields and, last Christmas, to draw attention to the number of homeless people dying on our borough’s streets during winter.
Our Young Citizen campaign, which you can read more about on page 11, also continues to offer Redbridge’s young people a platform to celebrate their best and brightest achievements.
So thank you again, for supporting this publication and being part of the Recorder family.
We hope you continue to enjoy reading this paper as much as we continue to enjoy writing it.