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"Indefatigable industry and the elucidation of truth"

The Hereford Times is celebrating 170 years – and a rising circulation. To mark the anniversary, editor Liz Griffin published a series of articles to explain more about its history, staff and readers.

Here, we take a look at the early years.

The Hereford Times’ story begins in 1832 when, in May, a prospectus was published announcing the new publication.

The philosophy of the paper was promised as: “From grave to gay, from lively to severe” and – a pledge we carry on our letters’ page each week to this day:

“An indefatigable industry in obtaining early and accurate intelligence – an impartial and open field for men of all parties, and uncompromising but never personal strictures on men and measures… our principal and avowed object – namely, THE ELUCIDATION OF TRUTH.”

Down the years the paper has seen and recorded a host of external changes as the county has developed, merged and finally demerged. The society it covers has grown in numbers, with wider education and a more diverse employment base than in the early 19th century.

There have, however, also been important changes in our own story.

In 1910, the paper was sold – saved in fact by a rescue consortium headed by Sir Arthur Croft, of Croft Castle.

A new editor/manager was appointed: Saxon Mills, who was a journalist and barrister. Under the new regime the paper – now staunchly independent – switched parties from Whig to Tory.

In 1927 ownership changed again when the Macaskie family, who owned papers in London, bought The Hereford Times and, five years later, bought and absorbed the Hereford Journal for under £1,000.

After Mr Macaskie died in 1963, the paper was acquired by Berrows, bringing it into ownership of a major group for the first time – Rupert Murdoch’s News International owned Berrows.

Reed International bought the group, including The Hereford Times, in 1982 and the story comes up to date during the 1990s:

  • 1996 – Newsquest was formed to effect a management buyout of Reed Regional Newspapers;
  • 1997 – Newsquest floated on the Stock Exchange;
  • 1999 – US-based company Gannett, publishers of daily and weekly titles in America, including USA Today, buy Newsquest.

    The grandparents of Hereford’s 70-somethings had good reason to thank the editor of the county newspaper.

    A pioneering journalist who established The Hereford Times in 1832, Charles Anthony was also an ardent and unflinching reformer who set himself the herculean task of making the city a fit place to live.

    Born in 1802, he served as mayor no fewer than six times and eventually became recognised as `the founder of modern Hereford’.

    The instrument by which his new Hereford was created was the Improvement Act of 1854.

    This enabled the town council to sweep away all traces of what an earlier commentator, `Robinson Crusoe’ author Daniel Defoe, described as `truly an old, mean-built and very dirty city’.

    When Defoe wrote, Hereford was a remote market town largely dependent on the surrounding countryside and cathedral. But the council agreed urgent action was needed and sought expert advice from a civil engineer, setting the wheels in motion for the city’s transformation.

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