Whitehaven News Centenary Book

I N T E R L U D E     [1829-1905]

W I L L I A M   A L S O P
1829 - 1905

WHAT manner of man was William Alsop, journalist ? On the scant evidence produced, can he be invested with a character which more or less accurately portrays him ? After many hours of research work it would be wrong not to make the attempt, because, as the facts slowly emerge and are absorbed, his character really becomes vivid and alive.

William Alsop was a man who gave himself to the fascinating yet exacting job of creating and developing a newspaper. He was creating something which was worth while, which readily reacted to his impulses. He had vision and a plan of life which stimulated him, and, above all, he was young and virile. Some day he would marry and rear a family to carry on the tradition he hoped to make great, but, first of all, he must prove himself - he must be a success. To the exclusion of all else he strove with restless energy to develop the instrument which Providence had placed in his hands. Success came quickly, perhaps too quickly. The mounting circulation of his newspaper gave him power and

prestige. His course through life was set fair. He was on the crest of the wave in the year 1867 when he was 38 years of age. He was married and, in that year, his first child was born. It died, aged 5 months, a tragedy that was to be repeated over and over again. He was successful in industry, but, in marriage, the dice was heavily loaded against him, for one after another his nine children died prematurely.

Nothing is known about his wife except that her Christian name is revealed as Annie in the recurrent obituary notices. She must have been an enduring and poignant figure. A deep sense of frustration must have possessed them both and the futility of success in material things perhaps produced a deep sense of disillusionment. Yet we are told that William Alsop took an active part in the public life of the town and that he was liked and respected.

1875-77 shows him living for a brief period in the spacious country house, Millgrove, Moresby. Four of his children had then died. A fifth, Walter Reginald Worsley, survived for a while and around him the plans of the Alsops would be built. He too, alas, was to die at the early age of 24.

All these troubles, and the economic depression following on the war of 1870, must be laid against his unheralded departure from his beloved newspaper. Nothing else could account for it. His experience with fortune, good and bad, was quite exceptional and, in the emotional stresses attendant upon both, the proper conclusion to reach is that the bad out-weighed the good and the battle was lost.

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© Barb Baker