The Word on the Street
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Broadside entitled 'Fire'

Commentary

This report begins: 'An account of that dreadful and destructive Fire that took place in Leith this morning, when the entensive Steam Mills on the Shore were burned to the ground, besides a number of houses and property amounting to about 30,000, besides a number of persons severely hurt. The particulars correctly given by an eye witness.' Printed by Forbes & Co., Printers, Edinburgh.

Using an eye witness report, this broadside dramatically tells the story of a massive fire that destroyed mills and residential buildings at the Shore in Leith, Edinburgh. This report is very similar in style and tone to contemporary newspaper accounts of fires and accidents. The immediacy of the broadside is also interesting, in the way it relates to the fire that took place 'this morning'. According to the Gentleman's Magazine for 1 January 1833, this fire took place on 29 December 1832. Clearly, the street-criers and ballad-singers would have great difficulty in selling broadsides that contained old news.

Broadsides are single sheets of paper, printed on one side, to be read unfolded. They carried public information such as proclamations as well as ballads and news of the day. Cheaply available, they were sold on the streets by pedlars and chapmen. Broadsides offer a valuable insight into many aspects of the society they were published in, and the National Library of Scotland holds over 250,000 of them.

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Date of publication: 1832   shelfmark: F.3.a.13(40)
Broadside entitled 'Fire'
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