18 September 2014

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A little Herald history

John Harper takes a look at a little of the history that has affected the staff of the Tamworth Herald over the years.
This story first appeared in the pages of the Herald.

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The place that Tamworth Herald journalists call home today is at Bitterscote – a modern, purpose-built, air-conditioned office and factory complex that boasts the latest hi-tech computer equipment.

But it hasn’t always been like that.

Back in 1949, reporters were clattering out their typewritten column inches in a cramped little office above a shoe shop.

With a coal fire to warm them in winter – and an open window to provide summertime “air conditioning” – the weekly newspaper’s headquarters occupied the upper floor of a mock Tudor shop that remains one of the most picturesque buildings in Tamworth.

The Herald was first published from this building on August 8, 1868, by local businessman Daniel Addison.

Mr Addison continued to publish the paper for nine years until October 29, 1877, when it was taken over by a consortium of leading townsmen. They also bought the Herald’s retail business of book-selling, stationary and newsagent which was run from the ground floor shop.

By the time the ground floor had become Burdett’s shoe shop, the Herald had moved its printing operations out to a new site near the progressive Club in Halford Street.

In 1965,. The Herald moved to new premises in Aldergate before uprooting once more to Ventura park in 1996.

Opposite the original Silver Street office was a well-stocked tobacco store – most convenient for those stressed-out reporters – and an open-fronted greengrocers (in later years it was Feltons’ ironmongers ship).

Adjacent was the Identical fish and chip shop and then came the famous ‘umbrella hospital’, where customers could get their trusty gamps repaired. The owner, Mr Davis, doubled as a hairdresser. He must have been quite a salesman because despite being completely bald himself he still managed to sell bottle upon bottle of hair restorative to Tamworth’s follically-challenged townsfolk.

Then came the British and Argentine meat shop, while on the corner with Lichfield Street stood a fine old Tamworth pub, The White Horse. In the distance we could see The Tamworth Central Methodist Church, which at the time sported a neat Victorian spire. This has unfortunately long since been removed.

The buildings on the left were all demolished to enable Silver Street (which had become a notorious bottleneck) to be widened. Today it is little more than an access road and hasn’t carried heavy traffic for years.

Our 1960s planners assured us they were making provisions for the future, but the demolition of these centuries-old properties (including the 266-year-old White Horse Inn) is sadly typical of the short-term mentality that robbed us of so much of our historic town. What a waste!

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