What Odd Names for Newspapers!
Visitors to Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts, chuckle when they see the local newspaper is named The Manchester Cricket. They would laugh out loud if they knew that from 1875 to 1889 the town boasted a newspaper with an even stranger name: The Beetle and Wedge.
Stranger still, neither paper was named after an insect.
We wrote in this e-book in November 2001 that the name Cricket referred neither to that cheerful little insect immortalised by Charles Dickens (Cricket on the Hearth), nor to the international sport which often lasts for five days and then ends in a draw (cricket on the grass), often played in the English city of Manchester, that gave its name to Manchester-by-the-Sea.
Twenty-five miles north of Boston, Manchester-by-the-Sea was first called Jeffrey's Creek, and its early settlers became known as Creekites. In 1645, the name of the village was changed to Manchester. Over the years, Creekites was corrupted to Crickets. When a newspaper was founded in 1888, editor I. M. Marchall thought it should be called The Manchester Cricket, and that's been its name ever since.
Last month, Manchester-by-the-Sea resident Mark Coen emailed us: "The Cricket was not the town's only unusually-named newspaper. Prior to it, locals got the news in the Beetle and Wedge, which from what I can tell was named for implements used in splitting wood."
We googled the phrase "Beetle and Wedge" and confirmed Mark's belief.
"The beetle and wedge... a very effective way of splitting large logs for firewood," says an English website. "The beetle is a heavy hammer, and the iron wedges are hammered in to force the log apart, using much less effort than splitting with an axe."
Thomas Tusser, who farmed in Suffolk and Essex in the16th century, published a book, Five Hundred Points of Husbandrie, in 1573. It contained this verse:
When frost will not suffer, to dike and to hedge
In the 19th century, people played a game called Beetle and Wedge, and woodmen displayed a symbol showing, as their tools of trade, an axe, beetle and wedge.
And in the 21st century, there's a Beetle and Wedge Hotel in Moulsford on Thames, Oxfordshire (UK). "Its pretty gardens run down to the stretch of river immortalised in 'The Wind in the Willows'" says the hotel's website. "Jerome K Jerome lived here, and chronicled the escapades of his friends' visits in 'Three Men in a Boat'."
An Oxfordshire travel guide says: "Beatle and Wedge Hotel - Converted boathouse standing right on the river Thames with a superbly warm welcome. The food is excellent, good sized portions and a wide choice of mouth watering dishes along with a large pudding selection."