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Preston’s newspaper wars revealed in history talk

Posted on - 6th September, 2015 - 8:00am | Author - | Posted in - City Centre, Events, History, Preston City Centre, Preston History, Things To Do
Dr. Andrew J. Hobbs

Dr. Andrew J. Hobbs

A former journalist will reveal the bitter rivalry between two Victorian newspaper proprietors in a scramble to launch Preston’s first evening newspaper.

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Dr Andrew Hobbs, now a journalism lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire, will share his research on the 1870 battle between John Toulmin and Anthony Hewitson. The two men were trying to cash in on huge public demand for news of the Franco-Prussian War, which threatened to drag Britain into a continental conflict.

Sixteen years before the Lancashire Evening Post was launched, Preston was home, briefly, to two rival evening papers and a morning daily. Previously the town had been served only by local weekly and bi-weekly papers, plus titles from Manchester, Liverpool and London.

Preston evening Express

Hewitson, the owner of the small Preston Chronicle, went up against the might of the Toulmins, the most powerful newspaper family in the North West, and publishers of the Preston Guardian, one of the country’s most successful bi-weekly papers, with a circulation area from Chorley to Barrow.

Dr Hobbs said: “French and German troops were fighting a real war across the Channel, but in Preston it was a war of words between two strong personalities. Toulmin and Hewitson issued leaflets attacking each other, and there was skulduggery and dirty tricks as they fought for dominance in the local newspaper market.

“This was one of the more colourful moments in Preston’s newspaper history, but rival publications have always put each other down, especially when politics and religion were at stake, as well as commercial advantage.”

Dr Hobbs will be talking on ‘Preston’s Nineteenth-Century Newspaper Wars’ at the Museum of Lancashire, Stanley St, Preston on Tuesday 8 September at 2pm.

The talk is part of a series by the Friends of the Museum of Lancashire. All are welcome, admission £2.50 including refreshments.

If you are unable to attend the talk, see a short article here on the topic.

Are you interested in the journalism of Preston’s past and will you attend this talk? Let us know in the comments below.

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