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Weekly marks 200th anniversary with reproduction of first issue

A reproduction of a weekly newspaper’s first ever edition has been printed to celebrate its 200th anniversary.

The Wiltshire Gazette & Herald has printed the initial broadsheet issue to mark the bicentenary, which took place on Monday.

The Gazette & Herald began life as Simpson’s Salisbury Gazette, launched on 4 January 1816 by 24-year-old George Simpson.

However, George did not fare well in Salisbury and, following an undefended libel action, he moved to Devizes.

The original edition of Simpson's Salisbury Gazette

The original edition of Simpson’s Salisbury Gazette

Editor Gary Lawrence said: “I’m not sure what George Simpson our founder would have made of a journalistic world that features instant breaking news filed via mobile phone, Twitter and stories given away free online but I’m pretty sure he would have embraced it because he was a visionary.

“It was 200 years ago this week that, aged just 24, he had the energy and passion to launch a newspaper that went up against another venerable old institution, the Salisbury Journal.

“He was eventually run out of Salisbury but he didn’t give up. He carted his press off to Devizes and began again.

“Two centuries later that paper he created is still going strong, serving its communities and calling authority into question. We are proud of that and I’m sure he’d be delighted to see such a hard-working and talented group of people upholding his principles.”

A piece on the history of the newspaper featured on its website on Monday, marking the actual date of the bicentenary.

The reproduction of the first issue was printed in today’s edition of the Gazette & Herald.

The anniversary has also seen the launch of a £100,000 appeal for Julia’s House, a children’s hospice in Dorset which has just branched into Wiltshire.

The campaign aims to fund eight carers who will work with families of children with life limiting illnesses across the county.

Throughout 2016 the Gazette & Herald will also be producing some more supplements focusing on the paper’s history and that of the area it has covered.

A party for past and present Gazette & Herald staff, as well as other guests, will be held in Devizes tonight.

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  • January 7, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    Hardly groundbreaking, but nice that paper survives. Good stuff.

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