End of an era for newspaper printing in Worcester

Media website Hold The Front Page has reported that newspaper printing in Worcester has come to an end after 300 years – with a deputy editor lamenting the end of an era.

The Worcester News, a finalist in this year's Midlands Media Awards, and its sister weekly titles are now printed in Oxford.

Writing on his personal blog, John Wilson, deputy editor of the Worcester News, says it is the first time in 30 years that he would not be working for a daily newspaper printed where it is also written and edited.

John Wilson

John Wilson

He added: “It was inevitable. Not as many newspapers are printed now than in their heyday, so fewer presses are needed. Those that remain are the biggest and most technologically advanced. They take in their stride the workload once handled by a dozen smaller presses.

“The move makes the Worcester News more efficient, and that is a vital quality in an industry grappling with the tumultuous changes unleashed by the Internet.

“But I am terribly sad. I am so sorry to see the men who worked on the press, some of them for many years, lose their jobs.”

John’s career has also seen him work at Newcastle-based dailies The Chronicle and The Journal, Stoke-on-Trent-based daily The Sentinel, the Bristol PostWestern Daily Press and Derby Telegraph.

He said: “None are now printed on the premises. The loss of this press, though, feels worse. It’s about history.

“Berrow’s Worcester Journal, the sister paper of the Worcester News, was first published here in the city in 1690, though it was then called the Worcester Post-man, and is the world’s oldest continuously published newspaper (it is also now printed in Oxford, and has been for some time).

“I treasured that connection with the past, with the pioneering successors of William Caxton who raced to bring news to the people once the freedom of the Press had been won from the Stuart monarchy. That link is broken now. The sound of the press at full speed no longer rumbles through our building. A pulse has been stilled.

“I have peered for the last time into that press hall to marvel at a daily publishing miracle and smell air warmed by electric motors and thick with the aromas of newsprint, oil and ink.

“Even after so long in the business it retained the power to enthrall me. I was not alone. Over the years I have watched parties of visitors being led through our building and told the secrets of how newspapers are made.

“They listened politely, of course, but what they were really here for was to see that mighty press; to hear the noise and be thrilled witnesses to the birth of tomorrow’s headlines.

“It was there that the spell of newspapers was strongest, and the reason why so many of us who work on them have been bewitched forever.”