LIKE its contemporary publications the first edition of the Leigh Journal, which hit the streets on Saturday, January 31, 1874, had a sober front page – full of adverts.

Publishers Tillotsons extolled the virtues of the Leigh and Tyldesley Weekly Journals with their own advert boasting that the publications each had 12 pages and cost ‘three halfpence’.

Among those businesses were watch and clock maker W Rigby operating from King Street, Leigh, and cobbler William Stafford of 29 Market Street who was offering home made boots that ‘fit well, look well and wear well’.

In Tyldesley H Taylor was offering a selection of goods ranging from joiners’ wheelwrights’ and colliers’ tools, paraffin lamps and oils, colliers’ lamps (‘made and repaired’) plus the best wringing and sewing machines at 131 and 133 Elliott Street.

Leigh draper Isaac Standing was offering bleached damask tablecloths from ‘one of the largest manufacturers in Belfast’.

Goods we now take for granted were being advertised by Tyldesley grocer E Hobbs and 80 Elliott Street who drew the public’s attention with his Tea! Sugar! and Butter! wording.

NATIONAL news featured heavily in the first editions of the Leigh Journal.

News from the local area was quite a small part of the paper as many residents could not afford to learn about the daily events of the world in any other way.

The publication of the first issue coincided with Parliament being dissolved on January 26 by Liberal Prime Minister William Gladstone and there were two full pages of election news.

The Journal continued to keep its readers up-to-date with the campaigns until the election in March which saw Disraeli and his Conservatives return to power for the first time since 1841.

Other national and international news stories that featured in the first issue included the wedding in St Petersburg of Queen Victoria’s son the Duke of Edinburgh to the daughter of the Emperor of Russia.