Churchill

Copyright: John Frost Newspapers

The newspaper: The Times

The date: January 25, 1965

The news event: The death of Winston Churchill

What you see

For the time, a very unusual front page from The Times . This was the first time that advertisements had been taken off the front page. It was not until May 3, 1966 that they were removed altogether. Churchill's death was a major news event and took up many pages as well as entire supplements in every national newspaper.

Background

Churchill died on January 24, 1965 at the age of 90. He had been an MP for 65 years. He had been Prime Minister twice: during World War lI from 1940 to 1945 and also from 1950 to 1955. His wartime leadership had played a fundamental role in securing victory for the Allies. He was honoured with a state funeral, the first for a non-Royal family member since William Gladstone, the former Prime Minister, in 1898. Many hundreds of thousands lined the streets of London to see the great procession go by. Millions more watched in black and white, on their televisions. Churchill was a national hero and world statesman.

The front page

The Times knew that Churchill's leadership had been integral to protecting Britain from Nazi invasion. The Times also saw itself as the world's most important newspaper. The newspaper was read by many members of the higher echelons of British society, those who made government policies and those who helped to form national opinions. Because Churchill had suffered a major heart attack in 1953, The Times, along with all other national newspapers, would have prepared an obituary story in advance, to be used when he died. All newspapers have a file of obituaries written in advance of famous people's deaths, so the stories can be put into the paper very quickly.

Design

The Times was a 'broadsheet' - which is roughly twice the size of a tabloid newspaper. In this case, its size enabled it to carry a very long article of several thousand words on the front. You will notice a 'Royal coat of arms' on the masthead which the newspaper is not entitled to carry. The layout is simple with a main line: SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL DIES, a second line: THE GREATEST ENGLISHMAN OF HIS TIME and a third line; WORLD LEADER IN WAR AND PEACE. All the typefaces are in the famous Times New Roman font. The long text is separated by only two photographs. In one he is shown sitting at a desk looking serious and important - you can see why he was called a 'British bulldog'. In the second he is wearing his famous 'boiler suit' (a one-piece outfit, like dungarees).