15 September 1964: The Sun newspaper is launched

With reader numbers flagging, the once-popular Daily Herald newspaper was relaunched as The Sun on this day in 1964.

"Good morning! Yes, it's time for a new newspaper", screamed the headline of the first edition of The Sun, dated 15 September 1964. Top of its manifesto was the pledge: "The Sun is politically free. It will not automatically support or censure any party or government". That's a far-cry from the Labour-bashing paper we know today. But, in fact, it was never truly non-aligned; The Sun started life as very much a newspaper of the left.

Its predecessor, The Daily Herald, was part-owned by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), and it was the most-read newspaper in the world during the 1930s, with around two million readers. But by the 1960s, those glory days were long gone, and The Herald was struggling to make ends meet.

With the TUC having sold its stake, The Herald was bought by Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) and the International Press Corporation (IPC). They promised to continue the paper's Labour-supporting traditions, while refraining from making a play for The Daily Mirror's traditional working-class readers. But what they couldn't do was turn the paper around.

Relaunched as The Sun in 1964 with a circulation of around 1.5 million, the new paper's slogan reflected its new approach: "A paper born of the age we live in", which, it was hoped, would chime with the technology-driven spirit of the age, and the rise of the young, left-wing thinkers, known as the pacesetters. But, alas, by 1969, sales had declined to 850,000, and an even bolder approach was needed.

Enter Rupert Murdoch, owner of News International and The News of the World. Murdoch snatched The Sun from under the nose of Robert Maxwell after winning the blessing of the print unions. This time, The Sun would look and feel very different.

For starters, it would be published as a tabloid newspaper. And its new editor, Larry Lamb, knew exactly want its readers wanted: scandal, sex and page-three models, the first of which, Stephanie Rahn, graced the page in November 1970.

It was a recipe that worked. The Sun recovered over the years, peaking with a readership of around 4.7 million in the mid-1990s. But the rise of the internet has brought fresh problems – as it has for all print media – and today, there are just over 1.2 million readers getting their daily fix.

Recommended

1 April 1999: The minimum wage is introduced in Britain
This day in history

1 April 1999: The minimum wage is introduced in Britain

On this day in 1999, the national minimum wage was introduced in Britain, bringing an instant pay rise to 1.9 million low-paid workers.
1 Apr 2021
27 February 1900: The launch of the Labour Party
This day in history

27 February 1900: The launch of the Labour Party

Responding to the need for a single political party to represent the trade unions, the Labour Party was formed on this day in 1900.
27 Feb 2021
24 February 1981: Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer announce their engagement
This day in history

24 February 1981: Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer announce their engagement

On this day in 1981, Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer made their engagement official in front of the world's press at Buckingham Palace.
24 Feb 2021
24 February 1809: Drury Lane theatre burns down
This day in history

24 February 1809: Drury Lane theatre burns down

On this day in 1809, celebrated playwright Richard Sheridan was effectively ruined when the Drury Lane theatre went up in smoke.
24 Feb 2021

Most Popular

“Joke” cryptocurrency dogecoin goes to the moon. What’s going on?
Bitcoin

“Joke” cryptocurrency dogecoin goes to the moon. What’s going on?

Dogecoin – a cryptocurrency created as a joke – has risen by more than 9,000% this year alone. Saloni Sardana looks at how something that began as an …
19 Apr 2021
China owns a lot more gold than it’s letting on – and here’s why
Gold

China owns a lot more gold than it’s letting on – and here’s why

In a world awash with money-printing, a currency backed by gold would have great credibility. And China – with designs on the yuan becoming the world’…
21 Apr 2021
Why investment advice could be about to get a lot cheaper
Investment strategy

Why investment advice could be about to get a lot cheaper

Vanguard, the world’s second-biggest asset manager, is launching its own cut-price financial advice service. It’s something the industry badly needs, …
20 Apr 2021