History of our Times newspapers

Brent & Kilburn Times

Brent & Kilburn Times - Credit: Archant

The recent launch of the new Times website marked the latest chapter in a rich history of this newspaper which dates back to the 1860s.

Printed in Carlton Road, and costing just a halfpenny, the Kilburn Times and West London Advertiser was, and remains, the only local paper devoted to Kilburn.

And then, like now, it played a vital role in the community.

Local historian Ed Fordham said: “During the life of the local area the Kilburn Times has been there all the time.

“Whether it is the opening of Kilburn Park tube station in 1915, the construction of the Kilburn state in 1936, or even the annual Kilburn festival in Grange Park in 2010, the Times has been there reporting and watching us as we grow up.”

But its future wasn’t always so certain.

It was launched by Rowland Bassett, a 26 year-old entrepreneur printer. Because of his youth, many thought the Times would be a mere flash in the pan.

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More than 140 years later, it is still going strong.

Mr Fordham said: “Bassett was young to own a newspaper at 26, and many thought the venture wouldn’t last. But the Kilburn Times offered something its rivals didn’t, and it proved incredibly popular.”

The Kilburn Times, which later included The Willesden and Brent Chronicle, was a favourite among the working class and Irish community, many of whom hasd moved to the area during the 19th century to find work building the new roads being laid into town.

Sold on street corners and outside pubs, working men would pick up a copy and read it over a pint of ale, or as they worked in the bustling street outside.

Malcolm Barres-Baker, of Brent archives, said: “The Kilburn Times and the Willesden Chronicle had quite different readerships to their competitors the Harrow Observer. The Chronicle was aimed more at the working class community, while the Observer was more likely to be read by the middle class.”

Sifting through old, dusty copies of the Times in Brent Archives, based at the Willesden Library, the familiar tales of crime and misdemeanour fill up the pages. Such as the dodgy distillers who made alcohol without a licence, or the highwayman who held up carriages as they came down the Kilburn High Road.

Some more unusual stories were tossed up too.

On April 16 1870 the Kilburn Times reported the case of Richard the Third. Described as a ‘strange looking man’, he was arrested for begging after he was found wondering through Paddington reciting Shakespeare and brandishing a wooden sword.

And there was the case of the three men who were remanded in custody for dressing up in women’s clothes and wearing make-up at the theatre.

The court reporter noted: “On being placed in the dock the greatest amusement was created among the audience by the artistic make up of those in character. Bouston was dressed in a fashionable low neck evening dress of white and crimson silk trimmed with white lace.”

And the punishment for such an audacious crime – kept in remand on �100 bail.