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Regional Sunday paper chalks up two hundred years

One of the country’s oldest regional newspapers has celebrated its 200th birthday – with its owner bullishly predicting it could survive the next century too.

The Plymouth-based Sunday Independent has undergone many changes of ownership in recent years from the old Mirror Group to Newsquest to its current proprietors, Tindle Newspapers.

At a celebratory lunch to mark the anniversary, Sir Ray Tindle repeated his confident forecast that local newspapers will survive the current downturn, pointing out that they had survived two world wars and a series of recessions since then.

“Local newspapers will not only survive the present situation but will rise to greater heights in the future as the press has always done over the past 200 years since the Sunday Independent was born,” he said.

Legendary former Plymouth and England goalkeeper Peter Shilton, who was guest of honour at the event, praised the Independent’s sports reporting.

In his first official return to Plymouth since his he left Argyle in 1992, former player manager Shilton reminisced about the Maradona “Hand of God” incident during the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.

Tindle group managing director Brian Doel, who worked for the paper as a journalist in the 1970s, gave a brief history of the Independent across its 200 years since being launched as The Plymouth and Dock Telegraph in 1808.

He said the newspaper had reported on countless conflicts from the Napoleonic wars through to the present day.

The newspaper had been bought by the Daily Mirror group in the 1960s as a basis for its famous journalistic training scheme which spawned journalists such as Alastair Campbell, David Montgomery, Andrew Morton and Val McDermid.

When the Mirror was forced to sell the Independent in 1981, Brian bought it in a management buy-out and owned it jointly with Sir Ray for much of the 1980s. It was then sold again but eventually Tindle bought back the paper, then owned by Newsquest, in 2004.