Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Clarion Newspaper 1891-1931

Clarion Newspaper
"The Perisher"
72 Fleet Street, London

photo circa 1906The Clarion - A weekly illustrated journal of social reform, price one penny every Friday

The Clarion newspaper (fondly referred to as the 'Perisher') founded by Robert Blatchford and Alexander M Thompson founded the paper in Manchester in 1891 on a capital of just £400 (£350 from Thompson and Blatchford and the remaining £50 from Robert's brother Montague Blatchford)

The first edition of the Clarion arrived on the 12th December 1891

Robert Blatchford stated
"It was hard work, it was uphill work, it was disheartening, and financially, unprofitable work. But - I would not have missed it for worlds."

In his first leading article Blatchford wrote:

"The Clarion is a paper meant by its owners and writers to tell the truth as they see it, frankly and without fear. The Clarion may not always be right, but it will always be sincere. Its staff do not claim to be witty or wise, but they do claim to be honest. They write not for factions; but for the people. They fight not for victory; but for the truth. They do not seek to dazzle, but to please; not to anger, but to convince. Wheresoever wrong exists they will try to expose it. Towards baseness, cowardice, self seeking or roguery, no matter where or in what class it may appear, they will show no mercy.

The original Clarion Office was in a tiny office in Corporation Street, Manchester but moved to 72 Fleet street, London in January 1895

Robert Blatchford states
""When we first went to London he "Edward Fay" used to walk up and down Fleet Street, on the opposite side of the way, and look up with pride at "our" new offices"

"He told me privately that he wanted to stop every well dressed pedestrian and point to the building with the words "see that Establishment, sir, that is ours. I sir, am a proprietor of that shop, of that office, of that organ. That sir is our sign. therefore tremble and depart"

Clarion sales reached over 80,000 by 1908.

The Clarion sold well not only because it was written plainly and unpretentiously, but because it was entertaining, and professionally produced. Apart from political articles and editorials which aimed to "make Socialists", as Blatchford put it, by explaining the principles of Socialism "in the simplest and best language at our command", there was much which merely aimed to amuse. There were regular weekly features on music, theatre, books and sport (including cycling), plus a Children's Corner and a Woman 's Letter.

The London Office of the Clarion newspaper in Fleet Street were next door to the Northern Daily Telegraph now Lancashire Telegraph established in 1886 and four down from the Daily News

Main writers (and their respective pseudonyms) were

Edward Francis Fay (The Bounder)
Alexander.M. Thompson (Dangle)
Robert Blatchford (Nunquam)
Blatchford (Mont Blong)
William Palmer (Whiffy Puncto)
Mrs Myddleton-Worrall (Julia Dawson)
Walter Crane (cartoonist)

Robert Blatchford stated in his book "My eighty years" that

"I will go as far as to say that during the first ten years of the Clarion's life that by no means popular paper had more influence on the public opinion in this country than any other English journal, The Times included".

The Clarion closed in 1931


The Clarion Offices, seem to have been destroyed, however 72 Fleet Street is now the site of the San Carlo Sandwich Bar and is in a similar position to the original address of the Clarion Office . The Clarion was opposite a Public Bar and i believe this may have been the public house opposite (which recently closed "The king & Keys)

Edward Francis Fay (The Bounder)was born 6th April 1853 in County Cavan, Ireland, while still young his parents moved to Sheffield, England.

Fay toured with a Yorkshire cricket team as a fast bowler

Extra Info from the Working Class Movement Library, Salford