The Worcester Herald and the Holl Family

  • 16 Jan 2012
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At the end of the 18th century, William Holl, with the encouragement of Lord Sandys, established a new weekly newspaper called the Worcester Herald. The first issue came out January 4, 1794, printed by Holl at 72, High Street, and was much favoured by the Whigs. Later, under a joint proprietorship of Thomas Chalk and a memeber of the Holl Family it achieved a very extensive circulation. In mid-Victorian days, John Noake, as the 'Rambler in Worcestershire' produced invaluable articles on the county at that time, and in the 1920s, Edward Corbett retraced Noake's steps under the pen-name of 'Stroller'.

The Holls of Worcester as a family were deeply interested in natural history. From 72 High Street, William Holl, in 1834, was publisher and editor of The Analyst, an important periodical of natural history, and in 1837, was joint editor, with the celebrated Benjamin Maund of Bromsgrove, of a beautiful magazine known as The Naturalist. Harvey B. Holl was a principal contributor to the proceedings of the Malvern Field Club, Frank Holl was a celebrated Victorian painter, one of whose works, a subscription portrait of Thomas Rowley Hill, M.P, hangs in the Guildhall.

After three other changes of title, the paper became Berrow's Worcester Journal in 1753, and grew in size and influence as it began to reflect the local scene in its news and advertising columns.

The Journal met serious opposition for the first time in 1794, when the Worcester Herald came on the scene to carry the Liberal Flag for nearly 140 years in opposition to the Conservatives Journal. From the same office as the Herald, the Worcestershire Chronicle appeared in 1838, and significantly for the future of Berrow's, another company began to produce the Worcestershire Advertiser in 1861.

By this time newspapers had become more profitable following the repeal of the tax on advertising in 1853, and the stamp duty two years later. Indeed, the freeing of advertisements from tax had a dramatic affect on Berrow's Worcester Journal, leading the then proprietor, Mr.Frederick Gosling, to announce that'..... deeply sensible of the great patronage bestowed on the Worcester Journal by the insertion in it of the large and unexpected number of 260 advertisements,' he intended to enlarge the paper. The advertising boom was on.

In the 1830s, there was another burst of newspaper activity in Worcester. The first issue of a new weekly paper, the Worcester Guardian appeared on December 26, 1846. In 1838, the Worcester Guardian was followed by a new radical paper, the Worcester Chronicle, which for many years had a large circulation. It was printed in Copenhagen Street. by Messrs Knight and Arrowsmith. Its first number is dated January 3, 1838. Arrowsmith had been the chief spokesman of the Worcester Political Union during the agitation for Parliamentary Reform in 1832, and led all the Chartist petitions and demonstrations.

In the second half of the 19th century other newspapers appeared, catering for the increased literary interests of the middle and artisan classes. The Worcester News was established in 1857, but merged eight years later with the Worcestershire Advertiser, the first issue appearing on June 10, 1865.

More changes were on their way in the newspaper industry. Aided by the telegraph and the railways, the national morning papers invaded the provinces. The provincial Press counter-attacked by founding evening papers. In Worcester High Street (where Boots is located now) the Worcester Evening Post was started in 1877, and continued until 1883, when it became the Worcester Echo, a daily Liberal paper, and a rival to the Tory Daily Times, which had started three years before by the Berrow's company. As the Echo was part of the Herald company, there was great competition between these two daily evening papers.

These evening papers continued side by side until the difficult days of the 1930s, and the decline of the Liberal party which resulted in the disappearance of the Echo, the Herald, and the Chronicle. At this time, however, the third Worcester company, the George Williams Press, led by Mr. Tommy Jones, was expanding, contrary to the general trend. In 1935, it launched, with slender resources, but a good deal of energy and optimism, a second Worcester daily paper, the Evening News.

After two years battle for supremacy, in November 1937, the George Williams Press took over Berrow's Journal company, and a new company emerged; George Williams and Berrow's Ltd., to print one evening paper at the George Williams' premises in The Trinity. The Evening News and Times was born, and the title was later to be reduced to the Worcester Evening News.