History of Hull Newspapers

Part 1: The early years
In today’s commonplace of a single daily newspaper per significant town, it can seem astonishing that until well after World War I, Hull was served by three competing daily newspapers, all operating from the Whitefriargate area.

With longest pedigree, and weighty public affairs bias to match, the Eastern Morning News came into existence in 1864. Within its first year of operation, the Eastern Morning News incorporated the Hull Advertiser, a vital Hull weekly since 1794. Based first in Scale Lane and later at 42 Whitefriargate, the new daily secured its position as one of the UK’s front line regional newspapers, with a widespread business and professional audience for home and foreign news, informed comment, financial market reports and shipping intelligence.

Twenty years on from the launch of the Eastern Morning News, Hull’s second daily paper developed from a widely selling weekly, the Hull News, which had been successfully weaving together local news, review and advertisement copy since 1852. On 5th February 1884 the Hull News began publishing six days a week under the weekday title, Hull Daily News, targeting the evening market in Hull.

Into the press scene less than two years later, came a third contender, with openly political intent. Formed by a group of Conservative political activists, the Daily Mail was pitched into the field with the declaration in its opening issue at the end of September 1885 that “it is, and will be conducted as, a Conservative newspaper.... not hesitating to place before the public the true issues which lie between the two parties that contend for supremacy in the State.” Matching the Eastern Morning’s incorporation of the Hull Advertiser, the Mail took over existing Hull weeklies, the Hull Packet and its sister paper, the Hull and Yorkshire Times by early 1886 and incorporated both into the weekly Hull and East Yorkshire Times.

Political bias
As the two more established daily newspapers were broadly pro-reform and pro-Liberal, the Mail faced them across a political divide which shaped the Hull press’s news, values and prejudices. The Eastern Morning and Hull Daily News, with their distinct identities for morning and evening markets, were committed to the defence of unfettered Free Trade, enacting early social provision of old age pensions, sickness and unemployment insurance, curbing working hours and setting a minimum wage. In contrast to the Eastern Morning and Hull Daily News, the Mail demonstrated strong commitment to different economic and political interests, the veto power of the Lords against taxing for social provision and although a new middle class of exporting manufacturers had become notably free trade and Liberal, the Mail unerringly recognised, and supported, a Conservative interest in the Hull port employers, who reaped bitter and intermittent labour unrest thanks to their casual labour system.

In keeping with its founding aspirations, the Mail often had full page spreads for new, national, Conservative policy statements and to centrally featured profiles of Conservative parliamentary spokesmen. This was a more distinctive party allegiance than shown by its older competitors, Liberal in principle but ferociously protective of their independence and, in the case of the prestigious Eastern Morning News particularly, of a long earned trust from its commercial and educated public. However, from its early years, the Mail displayed professional standards of production, content and, most crucially, determination to get its share of news stories in competition with its more established rivals.

Continue to Part 2: The Twentieth Century or see details of our Newspaper holdings