Newspapers are notoriously bad at preserving their own history but former Daily Mirror staff have come up trumps with memorabilia for an exhibition to mark the paper’s centenary.
The exhibition, at London’s Science Museum, includes many items Mirror veterans have kept from their days on the world’s first mass-selling tabloid.
One of the most remarkable finds was by former Mirror reporter Peter Reed, who discovered copies of the first three issues of the Daily Mirror by chatting to his neighbour over a garden fence. The neighbour had kept the papers, which date back to 1903, for 40 years. She handed them over to Reed, who has kept them ever since.
Called Exclusive! Tales from the tabloid front line – 100 years of the Daily Mirror, the exhibition features the reminisces of journalists and printers who worked on the paper.
It also includes an impressive wall of Daily Mirror front pages and shows what a punchy paper it has been throughout its lifetime.
In 1910 it devoted almost the whole of the front page to a picture of wife murderer Dr Crippen.
There is its famous front-page message to the Soviet leader Nikita Khruschev in 1960: “Mr K! Don’t Be So Bloody Rude!” Columnist Cassandra’s attack on Adolf Hitler in 1939 headlined: “Wanted! For Murder…and kidnapping…for theft and for arson”, is also on show.
The days of the composing room are also remembered, along with NGA union cards and a rulebook. Fleet Street is touchingly remembered with a bottle of wine and matches from its famous watering hole, El Vino’s. There is also 3am girl Eva Simpson’s party dress.
Other artifacts on show include a copy of the letter from the Daily Mirror appointing Hugh Cudlipp, who went on to become the paper’s legendary editor-in-chief, as assistant features editor in 1935 at £13 and 13 shillings a week.
Current editor Piers Morgan’s desk is an exhibit. Visitors are told that this is where “he takes top-level decisions – and eats the odd cheese and pickle sandwich”.
The exhibition runs until April 2004. Entrance is free and the Science Museum is open 10am to 6pm every day except 24 to 26 December.
By Jon Slattery