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Moonlighting start for newspaper properietor

Readers of the Gloucester Citizen have been treated to a special supplement in celebration of the paper’s 125th birthday.

The special pull-out guide features an insight into the history of the newspaper, and included this article on the mysterious man behind the venture, Samuel Bland.

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Anyone who wanted to learn who was behind the city’s latest newspaper venture back in 1876 would have searched its pages in vain.

No details of an editor, a manager, or a publisher were given. The only hint appeared at the foot of the back page: “Printed and published for the proprietors by Frank Forrester and Robert Sheldrick, at their printing office, St John’s Lane, in the College Precincts, in the City of Gloucester”.

Perhaps the man who launched The Citizen wanted to keep his identity a secret because in becoming a newspaper proprietor he was moonlighting.

His name was Samuel Bland and he worked in the Dockside office of Gopsill Brown and Sons Ltd, Sack contractors who advertised: “Sacks let on hire. Large stocks kept at Avonmouth, Bristol, Cardiff, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Sharpness and other ports”.

Each evening when he’d finished tallying up how many sacks had been hired out that day, Samuel Bland scuttled off to the print works in St. John’s Lane (the site’s now occupied by Marks and Spencer) to start work on his newspaper.

He turned his hand to everything, as he wrote: “There was no work, either with hand or brain, at which I did not have to take a turn under pressure of special exigencies. In the intervals of editorial or book-keeping, I was not infrequently stoking,” (the steam powered presses were coal fired) “engineering, or machine minding.”

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