Mail Memories: Headlines from History

10 years ago: Best-selling edition of the Mail ever

The April 7, 2005, edition of the Mail was – and remains – the best-selling edition of the paper in its 161-year history.

The reason for this was that hundreds of out-of-town Travellers bought the paper in Harborough that week as it featured news about the death of Travellers stalwart, Ben Pepper.

Mr Pepper was found dead in his bed on Sunday, April 3, and more than 700 people were expected for his funeral, at St Dionysius Church in town on Monday, April 11.

He had helped set up the Justin Park Travellers’ site, off the A508, in the early 1990s.

It followed an early morning police swoop on Justin Park on Friday, April 1, which involved more than 350 officers from four counties.

Imitation guns, 30 vehicles and thousands of pounds in cash were seized.

25 years ago: Town trembles in earthquake

So-called “Panic reigned in Market Harborough” as the town trembled from what was then the second-biggest earthquake Britain had ever experienced.

Buildings shook, furniture moved and baffled residents wondered what on earth was going on as the 20-second tremor struck at about 2.45pm on Monday, April 2, 1990.

Geologists were predicting a series of aftershocks for the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, in other extraordinary news that week, officers at Gartree Prison foiled a plot by up to 30 inmates to stage a mass rooftop demonstration.

Three prisoners succeeded in climbing from an exercise yard onto the chapel roof but about 30 others were halted by just four officers and three police dogs.

50 years ago: Churchill appeal extended

There was a comparatively poor response to the national Winston Churchill Memorial Appeal in Market Harborough, so much so that its month-long deadline was to be extended by another fortnight in the town in the hope that more donations would be forthcoming.

It was hoped that Market Harborough Urban Council would be able to rally the populous into raising something in the region of £1,000.

But by April 1, 1968, less than £300 had been raised.

Council chairman Mr RLD Crisp widened the appeal and urged people to donate via the various collection tins spread throughout the town.

A special ceremony had been held at Harborough’s St Dionysius Church on January 30, 1965, to commemorate the great war leader’s life.