Whitehaven News Centenary Book



Introduction by Barb Baker

As part of the “ newspaper transcription team ” for a genealogy List in England, I was asked [by Marion Abbott, Co-ordinator of the Project in 2004] to help with acquiring a book [available in Canada] which tied in with the newspaper project. Thanks, Marion, for asking me to purchase the book !!!

The book was “ THE WHITEHAVEN NEWS CENTENARY 1852-1952 An Outline of History”, compiled by J. R. Williams. The book had been printed and published [JULY 1952] by The Whitehaven News Limited, at their head office and works, at the corner of Queen and Roper Streets, Whitehaven, Cumberland, England.

After the purchase was made, and the book had been mailed to me in Canada, a decision was made to transcribe the book and post it to the genealogy List. Permission was kindly granted by the present Editor of The Whitehaven News, Mr. Colin Edgar. I was enthralled when I read the book; So the work of transcribing was reduced from ‘work’ to ‘joy’.

One always wonders if articles or books are really interesting to other people, and not only of interest to yourself ! Through the wonder of genealogy and the magic of the Internet, I was about to find out


An interesting and surprising e-mail came through on September 7, 2005, and was forwarded to me by another transcriber for the newspaper project, Ann Selchick. Thanks for sending that e-mail on to me, Ann !!

The message was from Shiena Polehn, daughter of George Gilkerson Carter, Junior, one of the long-standing editors of The Whitehaven News from 1925 – 1975. Her Dad had the distinction of being the youngest newspaper editor in Britain. Mrs. Polehn said, in part…….

“Having discovered all I could about my Mother’s family, and having visited that large branch in South Africa in 1999, I turned to my Father’s side, which is a lot more boring. (NO Zulu maidens, POW camps, Afrikaans-speaking relatives, etc.), had been doing some ‘genealogy searching-about’, and had come across The Centenary Book on the internet. So I did a search for Cumbria, and out popped the newspaper connection.

I found the early copies of the Whitehaven News fascinating, especially the prices and the court cases. Finally, I found the “Centenary” edition info, with the photos of my Dad and my Grandpa mixed…….And the rest is history !!! “

What’s more, Shiena had MEMORIES of the newspaper; of her life in Whitehaven; and, of playing table tennis on the Board Room Table in the Whitehaven News Office on Roper Street !!! A “magic” connection indeed.

George Gilkerson Carter’s daughter also very delicately pointed out to us, that there had been a ‘slight’ error in the book; in that the picture on page 33 was that of her Father, G.G. Carter [JUNIOR], but the article entitled “EWANRIGG” was that of her Grandfather, who was also named George Gilkerson Carter [SENIOR].

Mrs. Polehn also pointed out that G.G.Carter JUNIOR’s brother, Walter Scott Carter had also been a long-time, hard-working member of The Whitehaven News staff, working as a Maryport journalist , but had been barely mentioned in the book.

For a few months, Shiena and I e-mailed back and forth; She sending memories; and both of us exchanging ideas. After once again seeking the permission of the present editor of the newspaper [Colin Edgar], a decision was made to pull the correction and the memories together for posting to the new internet home of all the newspaper transcriptions, set up and administered by Jim Patterson at http://www.cultrans.com/ Jim had kindly made room for the Centenary book on this site; a free resource for genealogists everywhere ! Our hearty thanks to Jim for that.

Permission was granted by the editor of the newspaper, and he kindly provided some more data on George G. Carter (Junior), and will be providing a photo from THE WHITEHAVEN NEWS ARCHIVES.


The present editor of the Newspaper, Mr. Colin Edgar, adds the following information……………………

“There have been nine editors in all since 1852:
WILLIAM ALSOP (1852-1878); ROBERT FOSTER (1878-1918); GEORGE STALKER (1918-1927); GEORGE CARTER (1927-1961); BILL NEWALL (1962-1966); WALTER THOMSON (1967-1987); ROY MADDISON (1987-1996); HILARY SCOTT (1996-2004); and COLIN EDGAR (2004-present).”

Mr. Edgar continues

“Incidentally, I do have some more details about Mr. Carter (naturally, some of these might tally with his daughter’s own anecdotes).

--On his retirement, he had completed 50 years’ service with The Whitehaven News, and was one of the longest serving editors in Britain.

--In 1914, he joined the Durham Light Infantry, and served in Egypt and France (including action at the Battle of the Somme).

--On leaving the Army, GGC – as he was known to his readers – was appointed chief reporter. He turned down offers to join daily newspapers at Manchester, Liverpool, and Newcastle to stay with the News, becoming Editor in 1927.

--Throughout his 34 years in the chair, he saw circulation rise from 8,000 to over 19,000.

--He played cricket for Whitehaven for 20 years, and was also the holder of a special constable’s long-service medal. “

** Thank you, Mr. Edgar for your kind assistance with this project. Your co-operation is very much appreciated **


What follows are the memories and contributions from Shiena Polehn…….A NEWSPAPER MAN’S DAUGHTER …………………..

** Thank You Shiena; we are all so very grateful that you have shared your memories with us and with future generations of genealogists. And, personally ~~~~~ from me to you, my sincere thanks; This whole project has been a MOST interesting and enjoyable experience **

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© Barb Baker