Still making the headlines

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ANY amateur historians out there know what the major world event of 1877 was?

Well, as distant geographically as it may seem, the outbreak of war between Russia and Turkey was the catalyst for the birth of what is now your Hartlepool Mail.

Amid fears that Britain could get sucked into an international conflict similar to the recent Crimean War, there was widespread interest locally in 1877 in the dispute.

So much so that its end features prominently on the front of one of the earliest surviving copies of the paper.

The Mail was originally known as the Northern Evening Mail and was first published on May 14, 1877, just three weeks after the Russia-Turkey war started.

In an era before radio and television, local papers provided a vital service in keeping its readers up to date with events both within and far beyond their own circulation areas.

Not that life was easy for newspapers in the late 19th Century.

The Mail endured a turbulent first seven years with a succession of editors and owners and also changed its name in 1880 to the Northern Daily Mail.

Stability finally arrived when Samuel Storey, then MP for Sunderland and proprietor of the Sunderland Echo, and American millionaire Andrew Carnegie joined forces to buy the paper.

Carnegie left after only a year although the Storey family would remain at the helm for more than a century.

Among their changes were the paper’s move from its first home in Princess Street to West House, in Clarence Road, in 1900.

The Mail’s growing popularity also resulted in the demise of rival town paper the Northern Guardian in 1902 after an 11-year battle between the two titles.

A more fleeting but deadly foe would emerge on December 16, 1914, on perhaps the most devastating day in Hartlepool’s history.

The Bombardment of Hartlepool by the German Navy saw an enemy shell rip through the roof of the Mail’s readers’ room.

An adjoining room was also damaged, the gas supply was cut off and soot and glass littered the building.

Thankfully no one on the premises was injured and staff worked in freezing winter conditions to inform the town of the surrounding carnage.

Indeed we can proudly boast that neither world war prevented the Mail from ever coming out.

As our selection of front pages from across the decades illustrate, the paper’s look has changed considerably over time.

Colour adverts first appeared occasionally in the 1960s, although it was not until 1996 when the Mail moved next door to its purpose-built Wesley Square home that colour started to appear daily on its front and back pages.

One notable exception was our centenary supplement on May 14, 1977, when the Queen found time during her own Silver Jubilee celebrations to congratulate us on our landmark.

What has not changed, however, is our dedication to informing, promoting and helping the communities we serve.

The Mail has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for a rich variety of local causes over the years and provided a wealth of coverage to help countless more appeals.

Examples include the building of a hydrotherapy pool at the University Hospital of Hartlepool, the completion of Hartlepool & District Hospice’s new home and the addition of more than 1,000 missing names to the town’s war memorial.

Even this year our new Work in Progress campaign has already been nominated for a nationwide award for highlighting the plight of the unemployed in town.

A series of Mail-backed awards evenings also reflect all that is good here in Hartlepool and there is still plenty of time to nominate health workers for this year’s Best of Health Awards.

No longer though are we just a newspaper.

Our website has been established for more than a decade and attracts around 200,000 hits, or page impressions a week and at least 30,000 unique users a week. Not only does it complement the paper but offers additional editorial and advertising opportunities.

At this month’s local elections, for instance, our reporters worked tirelessly throughout the overnight count to publish results instantly online, produce video reports for the website as well as writing for that day’s paper.

From an advertising perspective, our new-look property internet pages at, allow readers to study homes and businesses in extra detail with virtual tours.

There are also large savings to be made on nights out, fitness classes and high street goods by linking through to our sister site.

Then there are our Twitter and Facebook accounts. They act as links back to our website to keep computer and mobile phone users posted with latest stories and offers.

So if the A19 is closed or Hartlepool United sign a new player then we can tell you within seconds rather than waiting for our next print deadline.

More than 1,300 people have signed up as our Facebook friends with a similar number receiving our regular Twitter feeds.

Further evidence that the Hartlepool Mail is using the latest technology to provide you with the most comprehensive round-up of all that is happening locally.

Just as it has done for the last 135 years.

News only a click away

GONE are the days of reporters relying solely on their pad and pen for jobs.

The modern-day newshound is an interactive multi-media journalist providing readers with up-to-the minute updates on breaking news via both the web and paper.

A key part of our role now is to break news via Twitter, the Mail’s website and on our Facebook account.

Reporters and photographers often take a video camera with them on jobs to produce videos for the website to go alongside the published story in the paper.

We also use mobile phones to take images and record videos that can be streamed directly on to the internet.

The recent all-out Local Elections in Hartlepool was a prime example of how the role has evolved in recent years.

Myself, fellow reporter Mark Thompson and chief photographer Tom Collins worked throughout the night covering the count at the Mill House Leisure Centre to bring our readers instant results, reaction and statistics.

Results were Tweeted and instantly published on the Mail’s website, along with photographs of the winners and losers.

All the main party leaders and Hartlepool MP Iain Wright gave their thoughts and predictions to camera before the count and then their instant reaction once the results were in.

Over the course of the night we managed to upload almost 30 videos.

The election night was one of my proudest at the Mail knowing that people were sat at home watching the coverage stream live on to the web.

It helped create a real “buzz” with councillors praising our efforts on the night via Twitter.

But that was only part of the job.

Once we returned to the office we turned our attention to producing a comprehensive spread for that day’s paper with further news, views and reaction from the count.

Times are changing and with news now a 24-hour industry.

Readers can rest assured the Mail is well placed to bring readers the breaking news first.

Richard Mennear

THE Mail is also using today’s technology to keep you in touch with the past.

The paper already prints our Memory Lane column on a daily basis.

On Mondays Then and Now compares images from yesteryear with the same locations today.

Tuesdays brings a double helping with our popular Family Roots and Together Again columns.

On Wednesdays That Was The Week looks back at a particular news story from the Mail’s archives.

Then on Thursdays Retromail asks readers to fill in the blanks around pictures from the past.

Hartlepool United’s history takes the spotlight on Fridays with our Match of the Day or Picture Puzzle articles.

On Saturdays it is the turn of your letters and photographs in our original three-page Memory Lane column.

Now, we are going to extend our coverage by reproducing historic Mail front pages for you to download from our website. Just some of our famous front pages from our past are reprinted today.

They include how we covered international events such as the assassination of American President John F Kennedy in 1963 and the start of the Gulf War in 1991.

Notable local stories featured today include the devastating Hartlepool College of Art blaze in 1966 and the day a Vulcan bomber crashed in Wingate in 1971.

More recently we have included the penultimate Mail Sports Special – in which Hartlepool United qualified against all the odds for the first time for the play-offs – from 2000 and back-from-the-dead canoe conman’s John Darwin’s guilty plea in 2008.

Keep reading the Mail and logging on to our website for further details on when you can start downloading.

Perhaps there is a story you would like to see featured on our new internet page.

If so then you can write to head of features Chris Cordner at the Hartlepool Mail, New Clarence House, Wesley Square, Hartlepool, TS24 8BX, email him at or telephone him on (01429) 239377.


1877: The Mail is first published on May 14 as the Northern Evening Mail by founding editor George Herbert.

Its original home is in Princess Street, off Lynn Street, in what is then West Hartlepool.

1878: Herbert’s death just eight months later begins a period of instability in which a succession of new owners take charge.

1880: Paper changes its name to the Northern Daily Mail.

1884: Stability finally arrives when paper is taken over jointly by American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie and Sunderland Echo owner Samuel Storey.

1885: The business partners separate with the Storey family assuming full control.

1900: Mail moves to West House, in Clarence Road, West Hartlepool.

1907: With interest in football rising and Hartlepool United about to be formed the following year, the Football Mail is first published.

1914: Premises damaged during the Bombardment of Hartlepool by the German Navy on December 14.

Yet the paper still comes out and would continue to do so throughout both world wars.

1934: Storeys reorganise family affairs with the Mail becoming part of Portsmouth and Sunderland Newspapers.

1942: Largely as a war measure, the paper converts from a traditional broadsheet shape to a smaller tabloid format.

1959: Name changes to the Mail with the word “Hartlepools” placed underneath. This will become singular when the towns are united in 1967.

1977: A congratulations message from the Queen marks the paper’s centenary and appears in colour – rarely used at the time by either local or national newspapers – on the front of a 40-page 100th birthday supplement.

1996: Paper moves next door to a multi-million pound new home in Wesley Square.

1998: Mail is redesigned with the word “Hartlepool” restored to its masthead.

Britain’s oldest floating warship, the restored HMS Trincomalee, also appears next to the paper’s title as a symbol of both Hartlepool’s maritime past and the town’s rebirth following its multi-million pound regeneration.

1999: Edinburgh-based Johnston Press, one of Britain’s largest provincial newspaper publishers, buys the Hartlepool Mail as part of a deal to take over Portsmouth and Sunderland Newspapers.

So ends the Storey family’s 115-year association with the paper.

2000: The Football Mail, by now renamed the Mail Sports Special, comes out for the final time.

2006: The Mail’s first female editor, Joy Yates, who is still in charge today, is appointed.