The 28th of January marks the 79th anniversary of the labour disturbances of 1935, better known as the Buckley’s Riots. Although the National Archives holds both the Daily Bulletin and the Union Messenger for that day, we chose to share with you the Union Messenger of the 31st January 1935 because it contains the editor’s version of the events. The editor/proprietor was J Matthew Sebastian and J.N. France was his assistant. The official version of events was published soon after the incidents and has tended to colour the story that has survived to this day. Much more detail came out in the trials that followed and that were often reported verbatim in the Messenger. We believe that the trial records may have been lost in the Court House fire of 1982, which makes the newspapers the only source of information and therefore and invaluable resource.
Unfortunately newspapers were published on the cheapest paper available and were not intended to last. Heat and moisture in our tropical environment only hastens the process of deterioration. This issue of the Messenger has missing fragments in the print areas and damaged edges. It seems it have got wet at some point as well. We have strengthened it with archival mending tissue which will extend its life significantly. In order to minimize the wear and tear on surviving papers, the National Archives is attempting to scan these older fragile newspapers and eventually hopes to make them available on line.