Archived Extracts

the nottinghamshire FREE PRESS

Fifty Years Completed - dated August 30th 1935


WITH this issue the "Free Press" completes fifty years of publication, and on such an occasion readers - whether old or new - will expect from the Editor some reference to the paper's history, and perhaps some indication of its future policy.

Such a message must necessarily be of a somewhat more personal character than the usual contributions from the Editor's pen, but on this one unique occasion we know our readers will excuse us. It is a pleasure, and in some respects a great privilege, to look back on the accomplishments of fifty years' service, but unfortunately newspapers cannot grow old without those responsible for their production also being made aware of the flight of time.

For close upon forty years the "Free Press" has been under the control of its present Editor (Mr. E.S. Buck); for the whole of the half-century it has remained the property of the family of its founder, the later Mr. F.W. Buck, J.P.

Half-Century Completed.

It was on September 4th, 1985, that the first number of the "Free Press" was published, so this issue completes the half-century, and with the first number in September the newspaper will enter its 51st year of production.

Mr. F.W. Buck, who was a native of Ashby-de-la-Zouch, came to Sutton to enter the service of the late Mr. Charles Plumbe, the printer and publisher of the old "Midland Gazette". In the year 1869 Mr. Buck commenced in business as a printer and stationer in Parliament Street; later he moved to the top of the old Market Place, and then to Low Street to the premises now occupied by the Maypole Dairy Company. There the "Free Press" - and the writer, too, for that matter - was born.

These premises, however, like everything else round and about, have greatly changed since those days. Plate-glass fronts had not come into general use in 1885, and the shop-front then was composed of small panes of glass so well remembered by the writer, whilst illumination by night was obtained from the old flat-type of gas-burner. The shops on either side were occupied by the late Mr. K.C. Procter, watchmaker and jeweller, and Mr. W. Starr, butcher, respectively.

First Printing Works.

The printing works at the rear were of two storeys, to which building a third storey was subsequently added. On the ground floor was installed the printing plate - driven by a vertical type gas engine - and the type-setting was carried on in the upper storey. In those early days all the type had to be set by hand, but the "Free Press" was amongst the first newspapers to adopt mechanical type-setting. Linotype machines being introduced in the year 1897. To-day these wonderful machines are in universal use for newspaper type-setting, and the latest models now utilised for the production of the "Free Press" to-day.

With the growth of the paper and its increasing circulation it was soon realised that the Low Street offices were inadequate, and 37 years ago the present premises in Priestsic Road were built, and have since been used for the paper's production and publication.

Since those days there has been an enormous growth in Sutton, Kirkby, Huthwaite, Skegby, Stanton Hill and the whole of the surrounding districts, but the present generation can hardly conceive the advances made during the past fifty years in many ways such as transport, lighting, telephones and wireless communication, etc. There was then only one station in Sutton - that at the Junction ; there passengers had to join the trains, and all parcels for dispatch had to be conveyed to that station.

No Motor-Cars.

As the motor, or even "safety" bicycle or pneumatic tyre, had not then been invented, the only alternative was carriers cart, and older residents in the district well remember using this means of transport over roads which were very dusty, and by no means of the level surfaces found to-day. But the many changes which have taken place in the district during the past fifty years are dealt with in this issue by other writers; let us here deal rather with the history of the "Free Press."

This newspaper was first published as an eight-page paper of six columns per page. In later years the number of columns per page was increased until it became somewhat unwieldy, and a few years ago the number of pages was increased to a minimum of sixteen, and the present handler page size adopted.

A glance at the first copy of the "Free Press" affords considerable interest to residents of this district old enough to carry their minds back over half a century, whilst to younger people it reveals the fact that Sutton possesses many old-established businesses. The names of some of the advertisers found in our first issue are still seen in our columns, though, in the natural order of things, most of these businesses to-day are being carried on by later generations of the same name.

Sutton's Oldest Tradesman.

It must, however, be a unique fact to find that two of the actual persons who advertised in the first issue of the "Free Press" are still in business, and still using our columns. We refer to our friends Mr. Wm. Ward, tobacconist, and Mr. G.W. Briggs, chemist, both in business in Low Street. Mr. Briggs had opened his chemist's business three months earlier than the first publication of the "Free Press" in 1885, but Mr. Ward has personally conducted his tobacconist's business in Low Street since 1881, and must be Sutton's oldest tradesman

There are older businesses, but we think Mr. Ward - eighty years old, and still hale and hearty - with an unbroken record of 54 years to his credit, can claim to have personally conducted his business for a longer period than any other Sutton tradesman now living.

Business names such as those of Messrs. Needham (which will shortly reach the century mark), Allsop (formerly Daubeny) North, Kitchen, Briggs, Proctor, Castle Cutts were well known when the "Free Press" commenced, and happily are equally well known to-day.

Familiar Names.

Turning over early issues one comes across announcements bearing such familiar names as Messrs. W. Bonser and Son, S.J. Flood, Straw and Webster, Miler and Co., E. Buckland, S. Betts, W. North, B. Proctor (engineer), J.W. Redwood, A. Farrands, W. Taylor, J. Cutts, A. Marsh, J.G. Allsop, Jarvis and Sons, Marshall and Limb, Francis Farrand, J. Marshall, E.C. Proctor, S. Radford, Smith and Brown, W. Needham, H. Straw, W. Brooks, C. Whetton, H. Boot, W.H. Renshaw, W. Beeley - many of which names are familiar to-day and the whole of which will be well remembered by older residents in the district.

Amongst announcements other than trade are to be seen advertisements of a tea and entertainment at the National School arranged by the Sutton Harmonic Society, of which the late Mr. G.W. Owen was secretary; a meeting to consider the establishment of a young men's society for Sutton ; the ninth annual show of the Sutton Agricultural Society to be held on the Lawn Grounds.

In the wa of news the first issue of the "Free Press" included amongst other local items the report of a presentation to the Rev. E. Baker, pastor of the Independent Chapel, at which Mr. E. Woolley presided ; a record of the Sutton School Board meeting ; Mansfield Rural Sanitary Authority ; Mansfield Board of Guardians ; also reports of political meetings held in support of the candidature of Mr. C.G.S. Foljambe (Liberal) and Mr. J. Horne Payne (Conservative).

More Toleration.

Political feeling, in fact, was running pretty high in the newly-formed Mansfield Division at the time the "Free Press" was inaugurated, as the reports of the meetings - some of them of a rowdy character - indicate. It is pleasing to know that, compared with half-a-century ago, the spirit of toleration in matters political and religious is to-day far more apparent.

Poetic effusions were more numerous in those days, and in the early issues of this newspaper one frequently comes across rhymes dealing with current topics. For instance, "Peeping Tom" told our readers tha:
Horne Payne is possessed of a carpet bag,
And it holds his speeches three;
One of the Church and State does brag,
And one of Reciprocity;
And the third is great on the British Flag
The is going to the very D.

Yes, those were serious days, as a glance at our files would convince any sceptic. By the way, election badges of Gladstone, Bright and J. Chamberlain were on sale for the modest sum of one penny.

Random Shots.

Although the composition of newspaper features must vary from time to time, it is of interest to recall that the title of "Random Shots" dates back to the year 1885, and over some of the early "Shots" reproduced in this issue will be found the original figure of the marksman, which then headed the column. The title "Random Shots," therefore, can claim to have attained some historical significance.

On such an occasion as this we must take the opportunity of extending our thanks to the readers who have subscribed to the "Free Press" so regularly, and also to the advertisers who have utilised - and we believe have found full value - in our columns. To-day the "Free Press" find its way weekly into over 8,000 homes, a fact which in itself, shows that our endeavours to give a fair and impartial presentation of the news of the district have been appreciated. There are still living - though in the natural course of events, the number cannot be large - readers who have been regular subscribers to the "Free Press" from its inception, and to these we would extend a particular word of thanks. An expression of appreciation must also be extended to our staff, without whose help and co-operation our own efforts would have been in vain. Relations between those engaged in the production of the "Free Press" have always been of the happiest, and we take this opportunity of acknowledging our appreciation of the unfailing help we have received.

Fairly and Impartially.

The policy of the "Free Press" has always been to present the news of the district fairly and impartially, and to give all sides a hearing. After all, there are two sides to every question, and it is just as well to hear both. In short, our endeavour has been to ensure that the "Free Press" lives up to its title. ...

...During the last half-century there have been many happy days; there have also been too many sad ones. To all readers we express the hope that the future may be brighter than the past, and that, even in the dark days, we may see indications that surely, even if slowly, we are approaching the time when peace on earth and goodwill among men shall prevail, and when in a world of plenty a full, free, yet useful and happy life shall be the heritage of every member of the human race.

The Editor

Written 02 Feb 12 Revised 02 Feb 12 © by Gary Elliott