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Weekly newspaper celebrates 160 years in print

A weekly newspaper launched in 1863 as a “paper for the people” is celebrating 160 years in print this week.

Today’s Watford Observer features a supplement looking back on some of the key moments in its history – as well as a competition courtesy of Warner Bros. Studios based in nearby Leavesden.

Originally launched by Samuel Peacock and now owned by Newsquest, the Observer remains a strong part of the Watford community.

Today’s special edition marks the start of a series of events and competitions to promote the paper’s history and its continuing role in the Hertfordshire town.

Watford front

Michael Adkins, senior group editor for Newsquest, said: “The 160th anniversary is not only an opportunity to reflect on the fascinating history of the Watford Observer but it also allows us to look to the future.

“Throughout the year will be publishing stories, competitions and attending events to promote the history of the Watford Observer and its special place in the heart of the community today.

“The paper remains a key priority for Newsquest both in print and online and we’re excited for its future.”

Among the contributors to today’s edition was Oliver Philipps, a former assistant editor and long-serving Watford FC correspondent, who wrote fondly about his time at the paper.

He said: “I remember it as a happy place. The Watford Observer helped but I had a 45-year career in which I never had a Monday morning feeling.”

Andrew French, the current Watford FC correspondent, returned to the Observer last year after starting his career at the paper in the 1980s.

He said: “As Oli always taught me, make the Watford Observer so trusted that until people read it there, they don’t believe it.”

WO 1st edition

The first edition of the Observer, published in January 1863