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Livesey and Toulmin, Preston press barons and entrepreneurs

Posted on - 3rd September, 2023 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - History, People, Preston News
The cheese company brochure cover from 1905 Pic: Preston Digital Archive
The cheese company brochure cover from 1905 Pic: Preston Digital Archive

Whereas Walton-le-Dale born Joseph Livesey (1794 -1884) is best known as a social reformer, he was also a businessman. In 1816 he went into partnership with John Toulmin and founded Livesey and Toulmin Cheese Merchants. The shop had extensive cellars and was situated at 81 Fishergate. Livesey was also a publisher and began The Preston Guardian newspaper in 1844 using funds from the cheese business.

The cheese company

The Livesey and Toulmin shop in Fishergate Pic: Preston Digital Archive
The Livesey and Toulmin shop in Fishergate Pic: Preston Digital Archive

Livesey and Toulmin Cheese Merchants was founded in 1816. In 1905 the firm issued a promotional brochure that can be viewed on the Preston Digital Archive. Large numbers of cheeses were stored under the shop on Fishergate. They specialised in Lancashire and Cheddar cheese. Lancashire cheese is known for its crumbly texture and takes four to 12 weeks to mature, depending on the variety.

Lancashire cheese Pic: Wikimedia
Lancashire cheese Pic: Wikimedia
The maturing rooms under Livesey and Toulmin's shop on Fishergate Pic: Preston Digital Archive
The maturing rooms under Livesey and Toulmin’s shop on Fishergate Pic: Preston Digital Archive

Joseph Livesey and The Preston Guardian

Print ad for the Preston Guardian, 1900 Pic: Preston Digital Archive
Print ad for The Preston Guardian, 1900 Pic: Preston Digital Archive

Joseph Livesey was more than just a moral crusader, he was a writer and publisher. From the 1830s onwards he published various temperance movement magazines, with the Preston Temperance Advocate being one. This was monthly and priced at 1d. Notably, this was the first temperance magazine to be published in England.

In 1844 Livesey founded The Preston Guardian, which was partly funded by profits from the cheese business. The newspaper did not make any money for three years. However, he persevered and by 1854 it was the ninth best-selling provincial newspaper in England. In 1859 he sold the paper to George Toulmin, the son of John his business partner, for a sum equivalent to £1 million today.

John and George Toulmin

John Toulmin was born in 1790 and died in Preston in 1870. He was another prominent teetotaller and business partner to Joseph Livesey. It is, however, his son, George, that was to play a large part in the history of Preston’s newspapers and local life. George was born in 1815 and was to become a local councillor, JP, and Liberal politician. He bought The Preston Guardian from Joseph Livesey in 1859, and went on to found the Lancashire Evening Post, in 1886.

George Toulmin press baron

George Toulmin in later life Pic: Preston digital Archive
George Toulmin in later life Pic: Preston Digital Archive

George Toulmin was a ruthless boss and editors had to toe the line. In 1867 Toulmin sacked his chief reporter on The Preston Guardian, Anthony Hewitson. This led to a long-lasting feud between the two men. Hewitson went on to buy the Preston Chronicle and is best known for his many publications on the history of Preston. He is reputed to have called George Toulmin a ‘grey-haired old devil’. Toulmin and his sons came to dominate north Lancashire newspaper publishing.

The Diaries of Anthony Hewitson, Provincial Journalist, Volume 1

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