‘Come and get your mornin’ paper’: News of the day for a penny
PUBLISHED: 08:35 06 October 2020 | UPDATED: 09:58 06 October 2020
Mike Adcock Collection
“PAPER” cried the boy in knickerbockers as he stood in Norwich with copies of a new paper called the Eastern Daily Press on October 10, 1870.
Trouble was…he had no customers.
He was only a little fellow of ten years, but he soon found that being a news-boy was not easy going at the beginning and he didn’t sell a single copy until his mum took pity on him and bought one.
His name was Frederick Sinclair and more than 70 years ago he told us that he thought he was “too small for the job”.
But he was determined to try again on the city streets of 150 years ago.
“PAPER!” he shouted even louder and people started queuing up to get their hands on this EDP.
Before too long he was taken on by the small man with the big voice who probably did more than anyone else to sell the new paper on the streets.
He was legendary Norwich Bellman, or Town Crier, William Childerhouse.
If anyone is worth a statue in Norwich, he certainly is.
William, the little man with the big voice, was one of the greatest characters ever to walk the streets of Norwich and was famous across Norfolk.
It was a wise move by EDP editor, James Spilling, to take him to sell the paper to the people…and he did just that.
His was one of the best-loved and most famous voices in the city.
ALL THE NEWS O’ THE DAY!
ONLY ONE PENNY.
It was cheery William – known as the “boss of the news-boys” who took Fred and soon he had his own busy round at Thorpe.
He recalled, when he spoke to us as he approached his 90th birthday, how he remembered William calling him in the morning, his great voice booming down narrow Golden Dog Lane where he lived.
After selling papers he would head off to school and he recalled how the circulation of the EDP just grew and grew.
And he recalled one story which captured the imagination of the people – a punch-up between two magistrates on the city bench!
“The next day the papers went like wildfire,” he said.
Born in 1859 his earliest memory was his mother talking him to a tea party in a tent on Magdalen Street given to celebrate the marriage of King Edward VII, then Prince of Wales.
He described the main streets in the city being paved with wooden blocks over which the horse-drawn vehicles made their way.
Fred was one of the brave to tried to ride a Penny Farthing but fell off. “I was glad when they brought in the safety bicycle,” he said.
He had a fine voice joining the choir at St Martin-at Palace and after he had married joined a singing troupe which gave concerts at the Agricultural Hall and for a special treat it was off to Yarmouth for the day.
He and his wife had ten children and they had been married for 70 years.
We said of him in 1949: “His alert mind is a living history book on the lives of the ordinary people of Norwich for nearly a century.
“He feels that there can be on rival to his claim to be the last of the band of boys who sold that first Eastern Daily Press with its four pages, each of five short columns.
William ‘The Voice’ Childerhouse
William “The Voice” Childerhouse was the city bellman from the 1870s until his death in 1905. Dressed in a gold-laced top hat and a blue uniform with brass buttons he walked the city streets for many years.
It was when the first editor of the EDP James Snelling, who lived in the same Heigham parish, heard him shout “mussels and water cre-e-se!” he engaged him to deliver – and cry – the DAILY PRESS.
He was soon to be in command of a company of a dozen news-boys who the paper put in uniform so they could look the part.
When he was also appointed the civic sword bearer and toast master at corporation events he was paid £5 a year.
He was described as a public speaker like no other and a poet who would often turn his words into verse.
He was also a hero during the 1878 floods helping people find shelter and food.
William reckoned he and his whiskers had walked 70,000 miles and cried 600,000 announcements during his time as Bellman.
Our Jonathan Mardle wrote: “He must have been a delightful little man, for it is said that everybody knew him, yet he had not a single enemy.”
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