The Oldest Local Paper
Isle of Wight Observer December 27, 1890
Our edition of today is numbered 2000. Week after week, for 2000 weeks, the Observer has been issued to the public of Ryde. Quite another generation has sprung up since its start, and on the list of its subscribers the number of those whose subscriptions date back to its first year can be counted on the fingers of one hand. It is as melancholy to look through an old list of subscribers as it is to read the older files of our paper, with the forgotten contests and local excitement by actors, the majority of whom have passed away. There is something very pathetic about an old newspaper, and that we suppose is the reason why they are so seldom kept. When the Observer commenced its existence it had the field to itself, so far as the Isle of Wight was concerned. Once in every few years some one came forward with the threats of utter annihilation for the “old ‘un”. Somehow we have managed to survive these prophesies, but many of those who have made them, after “strutting and fretting their little hour upon the stage” have been “seen no more”. Many on the other hand have succeeded, and today the newspapers published in the Island are too numerous to mention. We have no wish to emulate the blatant self-puffery of some of our contemporaries, but we think we can truthfully say that, in spite of many rivals for public favour, the old Observer still keeps its position and circulation. We are ageing considerably, but not “breaking up”.
Isle of Wight Observer January 25, 1890
A correspondent writes as follows: The inhabitants of St John’s and Oakfield were thrown into a state of consternation in the early hours of Tuesday, the 21st inst., by the report that a man was hanging by the neck from the halyards of the flag pole belonging to Mr Waite of the Falls of Niagara. the police were communicated with but, on their arrival, decided that an inquest was not necessary as, on examination, the suspicious object proved to be a bust of the Grand Old Man. How it got there has not been ascertained, but two well-known members of the Radical Party were observed leaving the place of execution about midnight on Monday. What has the GOM done to incur the displeasure of the Liberal Party to be thus served? Mr Waite very carefully took the bust into his house, but parted with the same in the afternoon to a gentleman in High Park and advised him to place it in his garden, with a warranty that no Isle of Wight slug would live within 100 yards of it.
William Gladstone was known affectionately as the ‘Grand Old Man’ or, according to Disraeli, ‘God’s Only Mistake’.