As the Belfast Telegraph celebrates its 150th anniversary, we reveal 30 facts about the paper that you may not have known about.
The Belfast Telegraph, known then as The Belfast Evening Telegraph, was the brainchild of two Randalstown brothers, William and George Baird.
The new daily evening paper was meant to be launched on January 1, 1870, but was abandoned because of unforeseen circumstances. Nine months later on September 1, 1870, the first edition hit the streets — five days before a new rival paper, the Evening Press, was due to be launched. It also coincided with the day the French lost the Battle of Sedan and Napoleon III was captured.
The first copy of The Belfast Evening Telegraph was bought by Canon W E Smith for a halfpenny.
By the late 1870s there were nine editions of the newspaper a day. The first edition hit the streets at 2.15pm, while the last was out at 8pm.
Joseph Forbes Brock was the first editor of The Belfast Evening Telegraph.
The paper moved into its purpose-built Royal Avenue premises on June 28, 1886, from its original headquarters on Arthur Street.
In the early days, the ground floor of the Royal Avenue building was occupied by small businesses, including a greengrocer’s, a men’s clothing store and a chemist where employees went daily for a "special magical elixir" that supposedly cured hangovers.
Following on from the success of its daily evening newspaper, the company established by the Baird family launched the Ulster Saturday Night — a sports news sheet printed on pink paper on November 17, 1894. It was then changed to Ireland’s Saturday Night on January 11, 1896.
The newspaper was one of the first to break the news that the Belfast-built Titanic had sunk. Telegraphic messages of the fateful voyage only reached offices on April 16, 1912.
Because of escalating publication costs as a result of WW1, the Telegraph was forced to increase its price to a penny on January 4, 1917.
In 1918 the paper’s named changed to its current form, the Belfast Telegraph.
Following the death of William Baird in July 1886, his son Robert took over and went on to become a pioneer of the newspaper, responsible for some of the major changes which led to the paper’s success.
The Belfast Telegraph opened its Fleet Street offices, Ulster House, in London in 1897. In 1927 they moved up the street and closed in the mid-1960s when it was taken over by its new Canadian owners.
The Belfast Telegraph was the first Irish newspaper to be forwarded by plane - dispatched to Stranraer in Scotland on March 23, 1925.
The paper obtained the Irish rights to print articles written by Winston Churchill during WWII.
With the war looming, Major William Baird, managing director at the time, made arrangements to store newsprint in 14 depots around Northern Ireland, including his home in Carrickfergus, in case the offices came under attack.
In August 1940 the newspaper launched an appeal to raise £5,000 to purchase a Spitfire plane to help in the war. By May 1945 the newspaper, through the generosity of its readers, had raised £88,633 16s. 5d — enough for 17 Spitfires.
The Belfast Telegraph building was damaged during a German air raid on the city in April 1941. Two 500lb bombs were dropped on Royal Avenue, just metres from the office. Amazingly the newsroom and press hall were spared and production of the paper was not interrupted.
During the latter stages of WWII the paper printed "Stars and Stripes" for American Troops stationed in Northern Ireland. US journalists were also given office space inside the Royal Avenue building to put together the newspaper.
The Telegraph was one of the first newspapers to report on the assassination of US President John F Kennedy in November 1963.
In August 1969 the newspaper launched an appeal to raise money for victims of severe rioting which had broken out in Belfast sporadically throughout that summer. By the end of the month more than £35,000 was raised. And for the first time the British Government donated a sizeable sum to a newspaper appeal — £250,000. When the fund closed in October 1970 it had raised £324,527.
Following Mary Peters’ gold medal triumph at the 1972 Munich Olympics, the Telegraph’s managing director Tom Willis organised a ticker-tape parade down Royal Avenue for the pentathlete. The Telegraph also raised £100,000 to help build a running track in her honour.
The Troubles arrived on the doorstep of the Belfast Telegraph on Saturday, February 3, 1973, when an army bomb disposal expert defused a five-pound device placed inside a 5,000 gallon petrol tanker. If it had exploded, it would have destroyed a huge part of the city centre. The Telegraph appeared that night with the banner headline 'The Great Escape'.
On September 15, 1976, a bomb went off at the Telegraph’s Royal Avenue offices injuring 14 people. Joseph Patton, from the stereotype department, died four days later in hospital from his injuries.
The Belfast Telegraph front page on August 31, 1994, titled 'It’s Over', would have been the first time many in the province would have learned of the IRA ceasefire.
The Telegraph was the first newspaper to report on IRA disbandment in 2004.
On March 22, 2005, the Belfast Telegraph launched its morning AM edition in tabloid format. The Telegraph became fully tabloid size on March 25, 2009.
In September 2016, the Belfast Telegraph moved to its new offices at Clarendon Dock after spending 130 years at Royal Avenue. The new facilities were officially opened by First Minister Arlene Foster. She said: “I am proud to be able to help celebrate this momentous occasion marking 146 years ago to the day since the first ‘Tele’ was sold from news stands on the streets of Belfast.”
It took another 18 months before a replica of the Belfast Telegraph’s iconic clock was mounted outside the Clarendon Dock offices. The original Tele clock was a constant presence on Royal Avenue after it was constructed in 1886. The original could not be moved as the old premises had become a listed building.
The previous owner of the Telegraph, Independent News and Media, accepted a takeover by Belgian media group, Mediahuis, for £125.7m in April 2019.
Belfast Telegraph at 150: Images and front pages through the decades Close
Belfast Telegraph: newsboys. Nine-year-old Emmanuel McGee does his own advertising as he sells the Tele on Royal Avenue
The first edition of the Belfast Evening Telegraph on September 1, 1870.
The Clash, Photograph 1977 Adrian boot taken in Belfast city centre on display at the Art of Selling songs exhibition at the Ulster Museum. Pic by Peter Morrison
Presseye Northern Ireland - Van Morrison Concert - Cyprus Avenue - 31st August 2015
Photograph by Declan Roughan - Presseye
Van Morrison on stage at the Cyprus Avenue concert.
Van Morrison celebrated his 70th birthday with two concerts on Cyprus Avenue, the area of Belfast where he spend much of his early years. Heavy rain did not dampen spirits of the large crowd.
New Zealand v Ireland - Rugby World Cup 2019: Quarter Final...CHOFU, JAPAN - OCTOBER 19: Rory Best of Ireland shows appreciation to the fans following defeat in the Rugby World Cup 2019 Quarter Final match between New Zealand and Ireland at the Tokyo Stadium on October 19, 2019 in Chofu, Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)...S
Queen Elizabeth II's Historic Visit To Ireland - Day One...DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 17: Queen Elizabeth II lays a wreath at Dublin Memorial Garden on May 17, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland. The Duke and Queen's visit is the first by a monarch since 1911. An unprecedented security operation is taking place with much of the centre of Dublin turning into a car free zone. Republican dissident groups have made it clear they are intent on disrupting proceedings. (Photo by Pool/Getty Images)...I
Bill Clinton. US President's visit to N.I. 1995. President Clinton visits Violet Clarke's fruit shop on the Shankill Road, Belfast. 1/12/1995 THE PRESIDENT CLINTON MAKES HIS SELECTION.
The Bloody Sunday report.
Roy Lilley. Former Belfast Telegraph Editor
Checking the new colour Belfast Telegraph. May 1985
PACEMAKER BELFAST AUGUST 1988
GEORGE BEST TESTIMONIAL AT WINDSOR PARK, BELFAST.
Barry McGuigan:Boxing. 19/11/1985.
LONDON - JUNE 8 : Barry McGuigan of Northern Ireland celebrates after beating WBA Champion Eusebio Pedroza of Panama at Loftus Road Stadium,London on the 8th of June 1985. Barry McGuigan won by a points decision after 15 rounds to become the new WBA Champion of the world.
An injured man is led away following the Abercorn Bar Bomb in March 1972.
Ireland Saturday Night. Ibrox fire 1971
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 1993: Joey Dunlop takes a tea break at the Carrowdore 100 in County Down, Northern Ireland.
PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
Joey Dunlop funeral July 2000
Thousands of fans attended motorbike ace Joey Dunlop's funeral today at Garryduff, Ballymoney.
Belfast Telegraph. Page One. 20/6/2011 "A champion, a great...and he's ours"
Rory McIlroy. Golf. US Open. Trophy.
Belfast Telegraph: Page One/ IRELAND SATUIRDAY NIGHT/ISN/LOYALISTS' DAY OF DEFIANCE AT BELFAST CITY HALL. 22/11/1985
Belfast Telegraph. Page One. 7/4/2011. "Carried on a sea of unity"
Ronan Kerr. Funeral. Murdered. PSNI officer.
Belfast Telegraph. Page One. Final 1/1/2010.
Death of Cardinal Cathal Daly
Belfast Telegraph. Old Pictures. One of the making-up 'Stones'. it is here that the type is assembelled into page form.
FOOTBALL: GEORGE BEST.
Football legend George Best, during the Northern Ireland v England match in October 1966.
10th anniversary of The Good Friday Agreement...File photo dated 10/04/98 of former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair (Left) and Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern signing The Northern Ireland Peace Agreement 10 years ago. PRESS ASSOCIATION photo. Issue date: Thursday April 10, 2008. The Good Friday Agreement set Northern Ireland on a path to reconciliation and peace 10 years ago, Senator Edward Kennedy said today. As politicians who negotiated the accord, including Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, gathered in Belfast to mark its 10th anniversary, the veteran Massachusetts senator paid tribute in Washington to the people of Northern Ireland and their leaders. "The people of Northern Ireland and the courageous leaders of the political parties in Northern Ireland, Ireland, and Great Britain, all deserve special recognition on this day for their deep and unwavering commitment to peace. See PA Story ULSTER Agreement. Photo Credit should read: Dan Chung/PA Wire
Motorcars:De Lorean/last minute preparations by employees before its trial on the track. 21/2/1980.
Newsroom following a bomb... Telegraph office.
Tuesday 30th June 2015
After 25 years as Northern Editor of the Sunday World Jim McDowell steps down from the position.
Jim McDowell pictured in the Sunday World office off Royal Avenue.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland 29th January 2014 - Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Theresa Villiers pictured with Editor Mike Gilson at the offices of the Belfast Telegraph in Royal Avenue, Belfast during her vista this afternoon.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/11/2006
Renegade Loyalist Michael Stone is tackled by security officers as he enters Stormont this morning. Stone entered the building claiming that he had a blast bomb, and shouting anti Sinn Fein propaganda. He has been arrested by police.
PHOTO ARTHUR ALLISON/PACEMAKER
Crowds in Belfast line the streets as soldiers returning from the Great War march past Belfast City Hall.
Martin McGuinness's Funeral Takes Place In Derry...LONDONDERRY, NORTHERN IRELAND - MARCH 23: The funeral cortege passes through the streets of Derry on March 23, 2017 in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. The funeral is held for Northern Ireland's former Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness who died on Monday 20th March 2017. He was once chief of staff of the IRA but later became Sinn Fein's chief negotiator in the talks that led to the Good Friday agreement bringing peace to Northern Ireland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)...I
Barry McGuigan:Boxing, against Eusebro Pedroza at QPR football grounds. 8/6/1985.
Belfast Telegraph. Old Pictures. One of the bill printing machines.
Alex Higgins. Snooker Legend. Exhibition match at Waterfront. (19/06/1997)
PACEMAKER BELFAST MICHAEL STONE
MILLTOWN CEMETRY 1988
Alex Higgins. Snooker Legend.
Northern Ireland's First Minister Ian Paisley and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness smile after being sworn in as ministers of the Northern Ireland Assembly, at Stormont Parliamentary Building, Belfast, Northern Ireland, Tuesday May 8, 2007. The unopposed election of Democratic Unionist Party chief Paisley and Irish Republican Army veteran McGuinness to lead a new 12-member administration heralded an astonishing new era for Northern Ireland following decades of bloodshed and political stalemate that left 3,700 dead. (AP Photo/Paul Faith, Pool)
PRINCESS OF WALES: DIANA'S VISIT TO ULSTER 21/10/1985 / LOVELY TO SEE YOU, DIANATHE PRINCESS OF WALES SHAKES HANDS WITH WELL- WISHERS OUTSIDE THE UNIVERSITY OF ULSTER, AT YORK STREET,BELFAST, TODAY.......
Bishop Edward Daly - Bloody Sunday
Martin McGuinness funeral...Former US President Bill Clinton touches the coffin during the funeral of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 23, 2017. See PA story FUNERAL McGuinness. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire...A
Belfast Telegraph: Explosion. Building. 15/9/1976. No stopping the 'Tele' from hitting the streets, despite having been rocked by an explosion. Here newsboy Joe Officer makes his way through the rubble to sell Belfast Telegraph's.
Hank the dog...Hank the dog visits the Belfast Telegraph office on August 5th 2016 as one of the final guests to visit the office on Royal Avenue in Belfast to thank staff for assisting in his saviour
( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph )
The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester inspecting air raid damage at Percy Street, Belfast. 21/4/1941
Life on the wing: Pilots of No.19 and No.616 Squadrons pose by a Spitfire. Sitting on the wing (left to right) are Brian Lane, 'Grumpy' Unwin and Francis Brinsden - with Flash the Alsatian and Rangy the Spaniel. In front, are Bernard Jennings, Colin MacFie, Howard Burton and the American volunteer Philip Leckrone. Three of the men - Lane, Burton and Leckrone - did not survive the war. MacFie went on to fly with Bader's Tangmere Wing until he was shot down in combat and captured in July 1941
The Queen. NI visit 1953. Queen Elizabeth's first visit to Northern Ireland. (July 1953)
Flashback to 1963, when Belfast Ropeworks made this 19-inch circumference rope for the re-rigging of HMS Victory at Portsmouth. Pictured is Jim Thompson, a bogey-boy at the Belfast Ropework Co.Ltd. 26/9/1963
Strikes/Protests:Loyalist, Anti Anglo Irish Agreement protest meeting at Belfast City Hall. 'Ulster Says No'. 23/11/1985
Belfast. Streets. City Centre. Donegall Square.
MOTORCYCLING: JOEY DUNLOP. Joey Dunlop motorbike ace during a competition.
WORLD WAR II: BELFAST AIR RAIDS. HUGHENDEN AVENUE.15/16 April 1941. Hughenden Avenue (Cavehill Road). AR 96.
WORLD WAR II: BELFAST AIR RAIDS.HIGH STREET.
4/5 May 1941. High Street after being blitzed. AR 76.
Belfast Telegraph:Building/Royal Avenue. 1986
The Queen. NI visit 1953. Ballycarry children celebrate the Queen's Coronation.
MARY PETERS:MUNICH OLYMPICS 1972.
Mary Peters:Athletics, with Olympic Gold medal she won in Munich. In Belfast City Centre.
Ulster Rugby - European Cup win 1999
Belfast Telegraph:Building/Royal Avenue.
King George V, at Belfast City Hall accompanied by Queen Mary to the opening of the first Ulster Parliament. 22/6/1921.
WORLD WAR II: BELFAST AIR RAIDS. SUNNINGDALE PARK.
4/5 May 1941. Furniture removed from houses. AR 154.