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Newspaper which ‘wouldn’t last six weeks’ celebrates 40th birthday

A newspaper which was predicted to last less than six weeks has celebrated its 40th birthday with a special supplement.

The Northants Herald & Post has marked the anniversary with a 12-page pullout featuring memories from editors and reporters past and present.

The newspaper launched in 1975 with each of its five founding partners making an investment of £1,500 each.

In a piece for the supplement, the first managing director and editor Tony Boullemier recalled the early days of the paper then just known as the Post.

Northants HP

Wrote Tony: “They said we wouldn’t last six weeks. But 40 years on today, our old newspaper is still going strong.

“Back in 1975 that dismissive prediction by the boss of our biggest rivals simply boosted our determination – like a football team written off beforehand by the opposition manager.

“Our journalists had to make new contacts in a strange town and advertising reps had to sell space in something no-one had ever seen – the Northants Post. But somehow we pulled it off.

“During months of planning, we tried to outguess what our biggest rivals in Northampton would do to stop us. In the event they did nothing because of what their boss had told them.

The Post began life with five partners, who arrived from Hertfordshire and hired 15 staff.

Early financial troubles led to the paid-for Post, which retailed at 6p, needing a bigger circulation to get the required response for its advertisers.

As a result, Tony met with the manager of the local branch of NatWest bank to pitch the idea of giving the paper away.

He added: “It took some time before we could convince him that by simply printing and distributing 40,000 free papers, this would work. But it did.

“A week later we changed from a low circulation paid-for paper to a mass circulation free paper and the results were almost immediate. There was less editorial but our reps now had a viable selling story.

“Advertisers suddenly found they were getting great response and slowly we hauled ourselves up off the floor.

“We increased pagination, hired more journalists and reps and were soon printing more papers than our rivals. We went from 16 to 96 pages and launched 10 more titles, reaching as far as Leicester, Rugby and Banbury with nearly 400,000 copies a week – including two editions a week in Northampton. We also launched Looking Good magazine and three other monthly glossies.

“We didn’t just surprise our rivals. We surprised ourselves.”

The Post was renamed the Herald & Post in 1989, the year after it was sold to Thomson Regional Newspapers.

It is currently a Local World title, and will become part of Trinity Mirror’s portfolio following last week’s buyout of the former by the latter.

8 comments

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  • November 2, 2015 at 10:08 am
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    Many thanks to HTFP for covering our anniversary but the names of the Post’s other directors were missing from your otherwise well-subbed piece. So I’d like to mention them here.
    My co-founders were my wife Marie, Richard Meredith, Ben Clingain and Mike Page. Mike and Richard eventually moved on and Richard Pinkham joined the board.
    We were also lucky in finding some marvellous staff who totally bought into the ethos of the paper and carried it forward with us.

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  • November 2, 2015 at 12:01 pm
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    Many congrats to the Herald and Post and I hope you have another great 40 years.

    I also hope nothing changesbecause of the LW/TM takeover.

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  • November 2, 2015 at 2:13 pm
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    Indeed. In fact, let’s hope it makes birthday number 41!

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  • November 2, 2015 at 4:22 pm
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    I was lucky enough to work here just after Thomson’s acquired the titles.
    A very talented and energetic team, all up for a good old fashioned market share scrap with the bigger and better established competition. Lots of success, lots of fun.

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  • November 2, 2015 at 4:50 pm
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    Good luck to all concerned,certainly the way to go for talented journalists and good commercial people,the hyper local angle is the gap in the market that the self proclaimed ” big boys ” no longer serve so plenty of opportunities for good people to make a success

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  • November 2, 2015 at 5:56 pm
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    Brian – Perhaps you were talking about hyper local in a general sense, as the Northants Herald & Post has of last week been delivered into the arms of Trinity Mirror.

    Perhaps the new owners will leave well alone and let successful ‘little’ papers, especially this one in JP’s backyard, flourish with a light touch. Perhaps?

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  • November 2, 2015 at 6:57 pm
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    I was editing a small weekly paper in Notthamptonshire at the time ( not part of the opposition) and remember those days so well. Still full of admiration for all that Tony and his team achieved. A fantastic story.

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  • November 4, 2015 at 3:44 pm
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    For the umpteenth time, newspapers don’t have ‘birthdays’, they mark anniversaries.

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