This report begins: 'A Full and Particular ACCOUNT of a most Calamtious [sic] FIRE which happened in a large Tenement in the Cowgate, Edinburgh, this morning, Monday, 10th September, 1821, about half an hour before One o'Clock, by which three Lives were Lost, and several severely Wounded and Bruised.'
As with the newspapers of today, broadsides were extremely timely. Competition between publishers was so fierce that each tried to bring people news almost as it was happening. This broadside appeared only a few hours after a fire raged through two tenements and a number of shops in Edinburgh's Cowgate. Given the time of the fire, around one o'clock in the morning, and the overcrowded nature of tenements at this time, it is quite remarkable that only three people died in the blaze.
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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