125 years of bringing the news

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As part of the Echo’s 125th anniversary I have been highlighting each decade from June 24, 1887, the date when the first edition rolled off the presses. Now we have arrived at the 125th anniversary I am celebrating this special birthday with a round-up of special Echo memories.

A lot has happened in Brighouse since that first edition of the Brighouse Echo appeared on that Friday June 24. It’s 125 years since John Hartley, a young man from Brighouse took the first, and what must have been surely very tentative steps into the nineteenth century world of being a newspaper publisher.

The first edition to roll off the presses was full of what Brighouse folks were doing at another jubilee celebration – Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee.

It’s first editor was Jonathan Caldwell who worked on the Brighouse and Rastrick Gazette before he was invited by John Hartley to work at the Echo. It was Jonathan Caldwell who bought the Brighouse News in 1898 and its production was established at Perseverance Mill (now occupied by the Waterside Hotel). He retired in 1908 and died two years later when the News was bought by John Hartley and kept it going for a further two years but in 1912 closed it down.

Over the 125 years there have been 16 editors including Stephen Firth who left the company very recently. All of whom have made their own mark on the town and personal stamp on the newspaper. They all managed to retain and promote the policy that John Hartley insisted on all those years ago, of fair reporting and helping and encouraging new groups and organisations to thrive in the town. To always ensure there was the editorial space to be able to report on their weekly activities.

The Echo took a big step in 1890 when it went from seven column sheets to eight with proportionately more advertising to fill the extra space and then just before the First World War it was increased from eight to 12 pages and was then selling as a penny newspaper.

Technology has also moved on a pace with the change from flatbed printing in 1910 to the new rotary printing press being installed. In 1977 a new look Echo using new technology was introduced and today the computer is very much the centre of all newspaper production. But how many people have worked for the Echo ensuring that each and every week loyal readers can get their weekly Echo fix? It is impossible to answer that question when you think that it’s not just the reporters and the Editor who are responsible for the newspaper being there for you. But also the advertising representatives, the distributors and newsagents, newsboys and girls who have ensured your copy is always there either at the shop or delivered through your letter box.

The Echo has a number of homes during its long history, from Park Row now occupied by Brighouse Rest Centre, then into Bethel Street and then to the newly built offices in West Park Street. Whilst the Echo has moved to different locations for many the saddest move will be the latest one.

The office is now closed in West Park Street and is no longer represented in the town with its staff now working from the Halifax Courier offices. But, be assured the same staff are all working to ensure that your Echo will continue to bring you all the local news and features from the town.

The first of this week’s photographs shows the corner of Bethel Street with Park Street with the Echo offices the fourth shop along. The first is clearly Coombes the show repairers, next door is the Coffee Tavern followed by Joan’s Bargain Stores and then the Echo office front window. Our second photograph looks back at one of the shops from the very early days of the Echo and was one of its regular advertisers in 1890. George Day had his double fronted shop in Commercial Street and was just as popular then as the present day owners of the same (single fronted) shop Czerwik’s specialist cheese, wine and beers shop.

Many happy returns to the Brighouse Echo and long may it continue to report and bring us all the news.