“the foul prostitute and dirty parasite of the worst portion of the mill-owners” Quote above from the Manchester and Salford Advertiser on the Manchester “grauniad” May 1836 *
Over 200 hundred years of existence the newspaper has changed, adapted and not always been on the right side of history.
John Edward Taylor (1791 –1844) witnessed the Peterloo massacre in 1819 and blamed the organisers for the tragedy. After the radical Manchester Observer was closed by successive police prosecutions he founded and edited the more conservative newspaper the Manchester Guardian.
First published as a weekly on May 5th, 1821 it sold for 7 pence. At this time front pages consisted of adverts. On page 2 it is reported that the Emperor Napoleon died on the island of Saint Helena.
The Manchester Guardian opposed the 1833 Factory Act and the reduction to a 10-hour working day for children under 16 years of age in the mills. “A law positively enacting a gradual destruction of the cotton manufacture in this kingdom.”
After the abolition of the Stamp Act of 1712 in 1855 the price went down to 2 pence and became a daily newspaper.
‘Comment is free, but facts are sacred’
C.P. Scott in “A Hundred Years” Manchester Guardian 5 May 1921
C.P. Scott was appointed to the editorship in January 1872 of a now traditional liberal newspaper he was editor for 57 years. In 1886 Scott supported Home Rule for Ireland after which he became a social radical opposing British imperialism in South Africa and supporting women’s suffrage and other issues. From 1882 until his death in 1932 Scott lived at The Firs, Fallowfield. He took to making the journey to and from the Manchester Guardian offices by bicycle, involving travelling late at night, up to his eightieth birthday.
Writing for The Manchester Guardian in 1956 the journalist Bernard Levin attributed to Scott the line ‘Television? The word is half Latin and half Greek. No good can come of it’.
Hold the front page
On the 29th September 1952 the front page was changed from advertisements to news headlines.
‘It’s not a thing I like myself, but it seems to be accepted by all the newspaper pundits that it is preferable to be in fashion.’ A.P. Wadsworth editor.
An editorial of the 5th July 1948 feared that new State healthcare and social security system ‘consequences for our social evolution’. ‘They aim at evening up the weak with the strong, whether the weakness is accidental or inherent, at eliminating selective elimination. This policy risks an increase in the proportion of the less gifted’.
The Manchester was dropped from the masthead in 1959 because ‘the “Guardian” now is national in the distribution of its sales as it has long been in influence. We feel that this ought to be recognised in its name.’
In September 1961, The Guardian, which had previously only been published in Manchester, began to be printed in London. In 1964 it moved to London still subsidised by sales of profitable Manchester Evening News.
The Guardian building was demolished in 1972. The site is where Boots is on Cross Street.
A small glass cabinet exhibition of 200 years of the Guardian is currently on display in Archives+ on the ground floor of Central Library.
To view front pages or articles you can access The Guardian (1821 – 2003) and The Observer (1791 – 2003) archives for free using your library card here .
*In Private Eye Magazine the Guardian newspaper is generally referred to as “the grauniad”, in reference to the paper’s reputation for typographical errors, mistakes and unfortunate placing of headlines and unrelated pictures.