Sensationalist London newspaper headline

Today in my ongoing series of photos from my travels over the years, a shot of a sensationalist newspaper headline displayed outside a shop near my first flat in London. The paper is the Camden Chronicle, whose headlines often included the word "pervert" or reference to some kind of slaughter, beheading or similar. London newspapers are locked in a kind of hypercompetitive fever that leads them to ever-greater excesses of giveaways, gimmicks, and catchy headlines. For some reason, I assumed at first that the signs bearing the day's headlines were hand-lettered by each newsagent, mentally explaining away the eerie similarity in handwriting by inventing an exhaustive newsagent's training program (similar to the gruelling years-long training undertaken by London's Black Cab drivers). Later, my friend Danny O'Brien clued me in -- the newspaper prints the "hand-lettered" signs and ships them out to all the vendors with the day's papers. Link, More headlines


  1. meh, it’ll never beat the sign headline i saw while at uni in aberystwyth, wales…

    “National Library Thief Jailed”

    my god, it really is the safest town in the UK if that’s the best they could do :o)

  2. My favourite Aberystwyth headline is still “Local Woman Dies”, from this summer. In which a local woman, late middle-aged, unremarkable in any way, died of natural causes. Brilliant. ‘Course, the year before, in the Aberaeron paper (tiny tiny village) we had “INSIDE A WEST WALES CRACK DEN”. That was pretty good.

  3. The Aberdeen press and journal had the headline a few years ago “RETIRED STONEHAVEN FARMER DIES!”
    Then again this esteemed rag reported the Titanic disaster with the distinctly non sensational

  4. My favorite was a Hackney Gazette headline that read “CRACK ADDICT DWARF BATTERED” I took a picture of it but can’t seem to find it…

  5. mentally explaining away the eerie similarity in handwriting by inventing an exhaustive newsagent’s training program

    On the evidence of market stalls and greengrocers up and down the UK, I’ve long assumed that there is in fact a secret training scheme for teaching that very distinctive style of lettering used for price signs on fruit and vegetable stalls*, plus a compulsory course on the Misuse of the Apostrophe (“Carrot’s 50p a lb”).

    (*It’s this odd hand-drawn font where the ‘holes’ in numbers such as 0, 6 and 9 are drawn as narrow vertical slots between heavily over-inked verticals. Actually, it seems to be dying out now that inkjet printers are so cheap, but the misplaced apostrophe is going from strength to strength.)

  6. I’m usually oblivious to the local newspaper headlines here in Cheltenham, but this one gave me a serious WTF moment a while ago. Badgers dug up my husband’s grave.

  7. Lol – The “Squirrels on Crack” story has an interesting background. Apparently it was first posted on a slightly subversive Brixton community website, and found by the chief reporter at South London Press, who afterwards was “happy to admit it’s an exaggeration of the truth”.

    *sigh* I guess it does say something about the quality of the journalism in the UK.

  8. For slow-news-day headlines, it’s hard to beat this front pager from Mainichi (Japan’s biggest paper) online.

    New Year’s postcards mistakenly delivered 3 days early in Takamatsu

    TAKAMATSU — More than 100 postcards that were supposed to be delivered on New Year’s Day arrived on Saturday at a residence here after a postal service company got the address mixed up, it has been learned.

    The New Year’s postcards were reportedly delivered to the home in Takamatsu on Dec. 29 instead of Jan. 1 when the company confused the home with another residence in the city that had requested early delivery. Officials said the cards were accidentally delivered by a worker in charge of collection and delivery.

    The Shikoku Branch of Japan Post Service Co. said that it is possible to have New Year’s postcards delivered early if an advance request is made.

  9. I remember one Hackney Gazette front page that had the following headlines: RIOT AFTER SHOOTING/COPS BATTLE GANG IN TURF WAR/GIRL’S HORROR STABBING, and a teaser for a competition next to the masthead: WIN A FRIDGE FULL OF LAGER!

    My favourite Standard one was POISON CLOUDS HIT TONIGHT, after the Buncefield oil depot fire. Needless to say, nobody was poisoned by clouds hitting anything, but it did give a sort of classic British sci-fi, John Wyndham feel to the evening.

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