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The Anecdotage of Glasgow
Thomas Atkinson, the "Flying Stationer", and Glasgow newspaper enterprise


ABOUT 1832 the mail to Glasgow took on an average fortyfour hours to the journey, and 180 horses were used in all—four in hand.

The following incident of unprecedented expedition in bringing to Glasgow the news of the second reading in the House of Peers of the Reform in Parliament Bill is worthy of record. Their lordships divided at twenty-five minutes to seven o’clock on the morning of Saturday, the 14th of April, 1832, when it appeared there were—contents, 184; non-contents, 175; majority for the bill, 9. Mr. Young, the editor of the Sun newspaper (old Sun), left the Strand (London) at twenty minutes to eight o’clock, and arrived in Miller Street, Glasgow, on Sunday evening at half-past seven o’clock, at the house of his agent, Mr. Thomas Atkinson, of 84 Trongate, who was succeeded in business there by Mr. Andrew Ruthergien, subsequently in Buchanan Street, near to where Mr. David Bryce now is.

Mr. Young travelled in a post-chaise and four, with copies of his paper containing no less than twenty-two and a half columns of the debate, little more than an hour being occupied in setting up the types and in correcting and printing the paper. The journey, including all stoppages, was accomplished in thirty-five hours and fifty minutes. When it is considered that the usual time taken for the mail was then forty-four hours, although horses were always in readiness for it, while with expresses delays were inevitable, and that in this instance newspapers were given out at every town on the way, the feat is all the more remarkable.

The journey of the editor spoke volumes for the Whiggism and the enterprise of the proprietors of the Sun and their editor. The record sayeth not whether the editor was met on the way by the fleet-mounted Mr. Atkinson, according to his habit in riding out to meet the mail, a zeal and enterprise which earned for him from the poet Motherwell the sobriquet of the Flying Stationer.


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