Whitehaven News Centenary Book

P H A S E   I I I.     1918 - 1952

For 71years the McGowan family had been connected with THE WHITEHAVEN NEWS. Through all its vicissitudes Willam mcGowan, father of the present chairman, kept his faith in the undertaking. He was a Director for 49 years and finally Chairman of the Board. He was succeeded by his only son, James in 1918. This long and unbroken connection has exercised a profound and beneficial influence on the fortunes of the paper, particularly in the third phase. Like his father, James McGowan was, and is, a firm adherent to the Liberal faith. In the jargon of the day, with political fervour at white heat, he declares himself an unrepentant Liberal, without prefix or suffix. He could be nothingless. His background emerges with the unmistakeable pattern of his father's zeal for social reform.

James McGowan was born in a house now named "Callao", on Inkerman Terrace, Whitehaven, in the year 1872 and received his early education at Ghyll Bank under John and William Nixon, who were responsible for turning out many boys who were to become prominent public men in later life.

In the year 1881 the family moved into "Sorbie", which, until the death of Elizabeth McGowan, elder daughter of William in 1948, was the home of the McGowan family. Mrs. Gradon, her surviving sister, still occupies the adjoining house, "Garlieston", in the same grounds. James McGowan on his marriage, lived at 1, Victoria Terrace, later moving into Sella Park, Calder- bridge, where they remained a few years and finally purchased a well-known Scottish estate, "Whitecroft", Dumfriesshire, where they now reside. "Garlieston" and "Sorbie", is also indeed the family name, clearly indicate that their roots are to be found in Scottish soil.

In 1887 Jmes McGowan was sent to Mill Hill School, where he gained colours for both cricket and football and became senior monitor. To the present day he takes an active interest in the school. On leaving Mill Hill in 1891 he gained admittance to Christ's College, Cambridge, taking his B.A. honours degree in History Tripos three years later. He afterwards took his M.A.

While at Cambridge he took up tennis and captained the college team and in 1893 he won the University lawn tennis handicap. He left the University in1894, and, to gain experience, took a trip round the world. On his return to England he was articled to a firm of London solicitors, passing his Law final with honours in 1899. For many years James McGowan resided at Toynbee Hall Whitechapel, which was founded by Canon Barnett, who at that time was warden there. Toynbee Hll was named after Arnold Toynbee, a brillian economist with an intense zeal for social reform.

It was the pioneer university settlement which inaugurated an important movement in the social welfare sphere.

Canon Barnett was rector of St. Jude's, White- chapel, and, in the early years of his ministation, had succeeded in creating inerest at Oxford and Cambridge in the problems of East London.

He had brought to Whitechapel a considerable number of undergraduates to spend their holidays with him in order to learn about social conditions. The connection which was established in this way prepared the Universities for the suggestion of a closer union between them and the East End. Barnett's plan to found a settlement, that is a house of residence for University undergraduates who might wish to live and study conditions in an industrial area, was at once warmly supported, and so, Toynbee Hall came into existence. Its work has left an enduring mark on the social history of the period. Here, then, was an oppor- tunity which exactly fitted into the pattern of James McGowan's outlook. His residence at Toynbee Hall brought him into close contact with many social problems which then demanded intelligent, enlightened, and vigorous handling. Many who worked with him in those days grew to be famous men. Clement Attlee, Lord Bev- eridge, Sir Arthur Salter, Sir Patrick Duncan, and many more made their contribution to the work and widespread influence of Toynbee Hall. They absorbed in their young days some of the atmosphere of a movement which has had a pro- found influence upon social science generally and in particular, upon their individual outlook. Such men have shown a life-long zeal in public life, making great contributions especially in the sphere of social welfare. In many cases the seeds were sown at Toynbee Hall.

James McGowan was no exception. He took up work at the Rutlanders' Boys' Club, which was sponsored by the Old Millhillians. He later founded and was honorary treasurer of The People's Palace Music Festival, an East End function which grew to be one of the largest in the country. A disastrous fire in 1931 put an end to its activities. Throughout the period when he

lived in London, he took a very active interest in Mill Hill School and the Old Millhillians' Club, to which he was appointed hon. secretary in 1900. On his retirement he was given a public presentation at a complimentary dinner. While he was secretary he was largely responsible for the revival of the Old Millhillians' Football Club, to which he was also honorary secretary and captain of the "A" XV. In 1898 he was ap- pointed a governor of the School and he contin- ued to serve on that body for nearly 40 years. It was in this atmosphere that James McGowan spent many of the most impressionable years of his life. They endowed him with a high sense of public duty and an urge to apply himself to the problems attendant upon uplifting and improving the lot of the workers. In politics he grew up with the Liberal Party and passionately supported its programme in connection with its far-reaching social welfare legislation, out of which the Welfare State, as we know it to-day, has grown.

James McGowan married, in 1913, Annie Renwick, eldest daughter of Sir John and Lady Harbottle, of Darlington. They have three daughters, all of whom are married, and there are eight grandchildren. Mrs. McGowan joined the Board of Directors of THE WHITEHAVEN NEWS LTD., in 1920, and for a time was act- ing chairman during the period of her husband's illness. Before her marriage she was a Domestic Science teacher. For some time she was on the Whitehaven Town Council and became chairman of the Borough Education Committee. She was also actively interested in the Women's Institute movement. In 1913 we find James McGowan elected for one of the Whitehaven seats on the Cumberland County Council. He was put on the Education Committee and made an outstanding contribution to its work. He was made chairman of the Secondary Education Committee, and, in

1929, chairman of the full Education Committee. In 1914, James McGowan was appointed to the Commission of the Peace for the County of Cumberland and is now the senior county Magis- trate on the Supplementary List.

The foregoing briefly states the characteristics of the man who was to find himself the principal proprietor of THE WHITEHAVEN NEWS in July, 1918. He was then 46, a man of mature judgment and wide experience in public affairs with a trained legal mind.

In those days THE WHITEHAVEN NEWS had suffered from years of neglect by its previous principal proprietor, Robert Foster. The building was in poor shape and its contencts, including the printing plant, old and decrepit, and, con- sequently, inefficient. For years the paper had just kept its head above water, and the First World War, 1914-1918, involved it in sizeable losses. During that period newsprint in sheets, as used by THE WHITEHAVEN NEWS, reached 80 a ton; it appears to be heading for a similar figure as this is being written in 1952. No at- tempt was made to adjust advertisement rates to higher production costs. The paper became inert and the problems too pressing for the old man- agement. The core of the undertaking was, how- ever, inherently sound. The circulation was in the region of 6,000 per issue and upon this founda- tion, built with great patience and devotion by the 'old guard' over the 66 previous years of the paper's life, rested the faith of the new propriet- ors in the future.

Wages in those days were barely sufficient to keep the men above a paltry subsistence level. They were the first to be dealt with and, within a very short period, substantial increases were voluntarily given to the editorial and mechanical staffs. A new spirit of hope was thus created in the existing dismal surroundings. An immediate effort was also made to clean the place up.

Accumulations of rubbish, scrap, and waste paper had mounted up over many decades. These were ruthlessly turned out and sold at the prevailing high prices immediately following World War I. Adver- tisers were visited and frankly told about the posi- tion with regard to the rates they were paying, in some cases a paltry 3d per single column inch. The price was promptly put up to 2s, which conformed to the standards of similar newspapers. The shock was too much for some of them and they withdrew their support. In due course they returned as they saw newcomers, often competitors, taking their places. Internally the organisation had almost ceased to exist. Book-keeping was out-of-date and inadequate and methods of handling output and dis- tribution had not been looked at for years. These, and many other matters, were promptly dealt with and the organisation tightened up. The effect was quickly felt. In a little over a year losses were stopped and the undertaking entered upon an on- ward and upward surge which has been progress- ively maintained until the present time.

At this stage, Mr. Frank N. Hepworth, an Old Millhillian comtemporary with James McGowan, joined the Board of Directors. He was then manag- ing director of Messrs. Hudson Scott and Sons,Ltd. lithographic printers, of Carlisle, later chairman of the Metal Box Co. Ltd., and chairman of Steel Bros. (Carlisle) Ltd., proprietors of THE CARLISLE JOURNAL. A man of similar back- ground to James McGowan, a Justice of the Peace recently honoured for his public work by H. M. The King with a C.B.E., he is still an active member of the Board, to which he has brought a wide experi- ence of affairs for over three decades. At the same time there returned from active service in World War I, George Gilkerson Carter, journalist, trained by his father at 'The News' branch office at Mary- port. He was promptly brought to head office and

worked for a few years under George Stalker, upon whose retirement, in 1927, he was appoint- ed to the editorial chair, which he still occupies. He was then 27 years of age and reputed to be the youngest editor in the country.

Upon the death of William McGowan, Mrs. M. A. Gradon, his second daughter, joined the Board of Directors, upon which she served for 16 years, resigning for health reasons in 1948. Her seat was taken by her son, William McGowan Gradon,, who resides in Altrincham.

The writer of this outline of history was brought up from an early age with W. H. Smith and Son Ltd., the newsagents and booksellers, and was given his first managerial post at the age of 20. The year 1918 found him at Carlisle, then regarded as an important north country appoint- ment. It was in that capacity that he first met James McGowan - a frequent visitor and purch- aser of good books. On one of his visits he was informed that THE WHITEHAVEN NEWS had changed hands and that the McGowan family were the new proprietors. This promptly drew the suggestion that they would require a manager. Consequently, in a few days, the basis of an arrangement was made, out of which has grown an association lasting 33 years and which is, in the words of a famous advertisement, "Still Going Strong". They have been fruitful years, charac- terised by patient buiilding and a buoyant applica- tion of hard work and common sense to the problems of the day. Behind this has been the absolute faith of the McGowan family in their chosen people. One of the fundamental reasons for the successful growth of the undertaking throughout this period is the wide discretionary powers freely given to those in authority. It has enabled them to develop and endowed them with a sense of loyalty and devotion to their work.

It enabled them to realise that they were building something that would endure and upon which they, too, would leave their mark.

With the advent of new blood there came many significant changes in the style and make-up of the paper. Heading type was changed and more headings were introduced to attract the eye of the reader.

Long, verbatim reports of the meetings of public authorities were cut and, while retaining the essential news values, much more news was given in the editorial columns. Condensation, sometimes drastic, was pursued as a matter of day-to-day policy. The pages were planned in advance and made up as news items and ad- vertisements came off the Linotype machines. The constant aim was to get more hard news into the paper and present it in an attractive form.

This gave the then young editor, G. G. Carter, plenty of scope for development and kept him busy. The reporting staff were chosen not only for their plain reporting ability, but, in many cases, for the knowledge they had of special subjects -- sport, fell and rock climbing, natural history, archaeology, photography, scientific subjects, and, of course, agricultural matters. Special articles were called for on all these subjects and they had to be written by competent people. Soon journalists in many places were quoting 'The News' as one of the brightest and best pro- duced county weeklies and it won favourable comment too, in THE NEWSPAPER WORLD, the premier trade journal.

The changes thus made produced, as they were intended to, beneficial effects on circulation. It soon began a slow but steady climb which later on was to mount at a much faster tempo. For a few years all energies were bent upon strengthen- ing the internal and external organisation and making do in conditions of increasing mechanical difficulties owing to the obsolete plant then in use.

In those years the undertaking was firmly estab- lished on an economic footing. The financial losses were stopped and those responsible found time to take stock of the situation and formulate a long-term development plan. The extension of the premises was the first necessity.

The property in which THE WHITEHAVEN NEWS offices and works are now installed was purchased on November 26,1909, from Mr. and Mrs. John Quayle, living at Snellings, near Egre- mont, from whom the premises had been held on lease.

The premises were transferred from Elizabeth Spedding to William Quayle on March 8, 1832, for the sum of 650.

The premises were subsequently enlarged by the purchase, on March 2, 1923, of the freehold dwellinghouse and shop know as 149, Queen Street, from Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Wilson, who for many years ran a successful business, which now forms part of the offices and works of THE WHITEHAVEN NEWS.

Fortunately, the property which adjoined the original premises included not only a house and shop, but a large piece of land behind which abutted the existing 'News' press room. In 1923 the owners were approached and, as they were ready to retire, the premises were immediately purchased, thus making possible the important extensions and re-equipment which quickly followed. The development plan fell into three stages The first was to build new press and com posing rooms on the new site. That was comple ted in 1925 with the installation of a new Cossar flat-bed press, printing from the reel of newsprint, new Linotypes, and other mechanical equipment. The introduction of the new press increased the size of the paper from eight to 12 pages and vastly improved the quality of the printing. More over, production was speeded up, the time taken being cut by 75 per cent.

The second stage meant the demolition of the old press and composing rooms and the carrying for- ward of the new works on to the site of the old. Plans for this were immediately put in hand. For many years it had become apparent that a com- mercial printing section, which in skeleton form had existed under the old regime, could be devel- oped, and the site of the old press room, when rebuilt, would be very suitable for such an expan- sion. Upon completion it was, therefore, equip- ped for this type of production and has grown into a sizeable department covering letterpress and lithographic printing, ruling, binding, and ancillary processes. The Third Phase involved rebuilding the commercial and editorial offices. This was, in some respects, a major operation, as it involved taking out the whole of the outside walls up to the first floor and propping up what was left while a new front in both Queen Street and Roper Street was built in. The third and final stage of the alterations was completed in April, 1931. At last 'The News' was provided with a dignified home, equipped with modern machinery and office facilities.

In addition to the premises containing their offices and works, THE WHITEHAVEN NEWS LTD., acquired the Old Theatre Royal in the year 1937. The building had then been closed down as a theatre for about seven years (1930) owing to the fact that it did not conform to the statutory regulations, mainly with regard to the exits; the licence was not renewed.

A good deal of interest surrounds the building and it may be fitting here to say something about its beginning. In the earliest abstract, dated March 25th, 1769, which is headed

"Abstract of the Title of the Play House and Premises at Whitehaven,"

inter Michael Heatton and Joseph Austin both of Whitehaven on the one part, transferring all that parcel of ground lately purchased from John Dixon, Merchant (whereon the remains of a Malt House and Stable and some other old buildings

then stood and whereon some new buildings were to be erected), situate lying and being in the town of Whitehaven aforesaid on the south-west side of a street or lane called Roper Lane." It is the earliest record extant. There is no doubt that the purchasers had in mind the building of a theatre and in a later deed, dated 1783, it is indicated that the Play House is now erected on the site.

We cannot rule out the possibility that before March 25th, 1769, some sort of premises used as a Play House, probably by the old Barnstormers, were on the site. The ground and the buildings thereon were always transferred in eighths until the premises were conveyed to Mr. Stanley Rogers on April 20th, 1909. It was he who carried out very extensive alterations and improvements to the property and during his life he brought to the theatre many repertory companies, musical plays, thrillers, variety shows, and opera. This period is, of course, well remembered by most of the natives of Whitehaven. The malt house referred to in the deed may be the beginning of the brewery latterly owned by H. Spencer and Co. Ltd. whose busi- ness was acquired by the Workington Brewery Co. Ltd.

It required a profound faith in the future of the west of Cumberland to warrant such a heavy expenditure on buildings and plant which the long- term development plan entailed. The economy of the district was completely out of balance. The population in the industrial belt of West Cumber- land steadily dwindled with successive depressions in the heavy industries. Large scale chronic unem- ployment was rife in all centres and there was scant hope of a career for the school leavers. The posi- tion grew steadily worse year by year. Many of the young people who remained in the district simply could not find work. The distressing spec- tacle of those arriving at the age of 20 years or more without a job was not uncommon.

It was in these conditions that James McGowan called a three-day conference at his home at Sella Park, Calderbridge. To this he invited industrialists and public men of West Cumberland, who were addressed by Professors Jukes and Winterbottom of the economic research department of Manchester University, and the Master of Balliol, A. D. Lindsay, now Lord Lindsay. The purpose of the conference was to study the causes of the economic depression and its resultant unemployment and, if possible, to suggest a remedy. Prior to these deliberations an economic survey of the area was made by Professors Jukes and Winterbottom, of the University of Man- chester, and their observations and analyses had recently been published in book form. Their con- clusions were dismal indeed. They held out practi- cally no hope that the area would ever rise again and the future meant nothing less than progressive decay and final eclipse. The effect of this authoritative diagnosis was calamitous and weighed heavily upon those who sought ways and means of pulling the area out of the doldrums - but it had one good effect. The book and the reports of the conference received widespread notice in the Press and drew attention in high places, not only to the festering economic sore in West Cumberland, but to similar areas of depres- sion in the South of Scotland, the North East Coast, and South Wales. The matter was persistently raised in Parliament and Members were thoroughly aroused to the need for action by the Government. The result was that The Depressed Areas Act was put on the Statute Book in 1935. This Act scheduled the four areas previously mentioned. It provided for the appointment of a Chief Commissioner, with overall responsibility, and resident sub-Commissioners in each Special Area. Sir Malcolm Stewart was the first Chief Commissioner and Mr L St. Clair Gron- dona was appointed to West Cumberland with an office at 30, Roper Street, Whitehaven.

The Act provided for financial assistance for new industries coming into the area and inducements, as they were called, for the first three years to enable them to get established. The inducements included an abatement with regard to rent and rates. To help existing industries, which were in a parlous state, the Special Areas Reconstruction Association was formed (S.A.R.A.); it was empowered to make Treasury grants in approved cases. Lord Nuffield also stepped in and set aside a large private fund administered by the Nuffield Trust, which was then formed. In the Trust deed, that great and far-sighted benefactor, Lord Nuffield, empowered his trustees to assist financially, approved undertakings in the depres- sed areas in cases where the risk was too great for Government help. Here, then, was a charter for West Cumberland. How could it be made to work to produce good results ?

The collieries at Whitehaven were on the point of giving up the ghost. Successive companies had poured money for years into their gaping mouths in a futile effort to restore their fortunes and consequently save the town of Whitehaven from economic collapse. Herbert Walker, then of "Lingmell", Seascale, a man of great public spirit and deep religious conviction, stepped in when all seemed lost. His efforts to save the collieries cost him a fortune. It was of no avail. Immense sums were required for development. The pro- ject was afterwards carried here, there, and everywhere, but the risk was too great.

In the year 1937 the Whitehaven collieries were closed down, it then appeared, for all time. With courage, vision, and great understanding, the Nuffield Trustees stepped in and provided the necessary money to re-open them. Happily, they were soon joined by the Special Areas' Reconstruction Association (S.A.R.A.) who also came to the rescue with important financial aid.

These were the first of many statesmanlike acts which they performed, and the decision put over 2,000 men into work at once and saved the coal- field from irretrievable decay.

This was the significant beginning of a period commencing in the year 1935 with the formation of The Cumberland Development Council Limited, a non-profit making body which was charged with seeking out the causes, and sugg- esting remedies for the cure, of the economic dis- tress which had settled on West Cumberland with characteristics of an incurable palsy. The history of the achievements of the Cumberland Develop- ment Council and the West Cumberland Indus- trial Development Co. Ltd., which was born out of it, is a long and romantic story. It "Must" be written; it should be a best seller, for it contains a pattern of new economic life woven into a decaying structure and a refusal to accept defeat. In ten years it brought over 50 new industries into West Cumberland, built factories to house them, and consequently put the population back into new employment. In one decade, with the backing of a benevolent Government, under the new Special Areas Act, a deep-seated malady was cured and the economy of the area put into permanent balance. That story, when it is written will be worth its place in the history of human endeavour.

Throughout the period of economic distress those responsible for development and progress on the staff of THE WHITEHAVEN NEWS were constantly on their toes. Competition was fierce and money scarce. Business was very hard to come by, yet throughout the long period of depression, 'The News' made slow but solid progress, which has been consistently maintained to date. At the present time it has a certified net sale of almost 20,000 copies per week, the largest circulation per issue of any West Cumber- land newspaper.

Since the incorporation of THE WHITEHAVEN NEWS the political policy expounded in its editorial column has always been Liberal with a distinct bias to the Left. The Parliamentary elec- tions since 1918 have, therefore, been of parti- cular interest. The 1922 election was a three- cornered affair. The sitting member was a Tory, Mr. J. A. Grant, who won the seat in 1918 in a straight fight with Mr. T. Gavan Duffy (Labour), who was then defeated by 1,720 votes. This time (1922) the Liberals put forward H. K. Campbell, a Carlisle stockbroker. He polled 4,209 votes and unseated the Tory with a Labour majority of 1,979. In the year 1923, a year later, there was another Parliamentary election. In this contest Duffy was opposed by R. S. Hudson, Conservative. Duffy retained his hold on the seat with a majority of 1,390. The following year the positions were reversed, Hudson being returned with a majority of 1,408. The 1924 Government ran its full course and in 1929 there was another three-cornered fight with Mr.M.P. Price(Labour) Mr. R. S. Hudson (Conservative), and Professor H. Darnley Naylor (Liberal). The Tory was ousted again, R. S. Hudson, later to become Minister of Agriculture, losing his seat by 1,652 - the Liberal forfeited his deposit. In two years, 1931, the fight was on again. This time the Labour candidate was bundled out in favour of Mr. W. Nunn, Conservative, who had a 2,031 majority in his favour. The year 1935 saw a three-cornered fight of a different sort, the con- testants being Mr. F. Anderson (Labour), Mr. W. Nunn (Conservative), and the redoubtable Mr. Tom Stephenson (Independent Labour Party). Labour won the seat by the narrow margin of 352 votes. "Tom" lost his deposit. His was a valiant effort. It was rewarded with 1,004 votes ! Labour has held the seat since 1935 and,

with the re-arrangement of Divisional Boundaries, appears safe enough for the time being. The political see-saw thus outlined raised the atmos- phere to intense heat, particularly in the 1922 and 1929 contests. When the Tory was ousted they blamed the Liberals, when Labour was ousted they did likewise. After the 1929 election at least one local Tory thought fit to threaten some of our hard-won advertisers with the wholesale withdrawal of Tory patronage if they ever adver- tised in 'The News' again. The plot failed. When Duffy was ousted in 1924 some Labour enthusi- asts publicly burned 'The News' in the Market Place. That was advetising indeed !

In spite of these demonstrations THE WHITE- HAVEN NEWS continued to attack the policy of both Tory and Labour where these fell foul of the great Liberal traditions for which it has always stood. In these days of the rapidly developing Socialised State, when our traditional freedom is being slowly lost in a myopic world, the propriet- ors of 'The News' can have no regrets. Although the Liberal Party is in decline and poorly represented at Westminster, the world cries out for its political wisdom and sagacity.

This outline of history must, of course, include a brief account of top line news items which have been covered by 'The News', at any rate within the last half century. The period is dominated by a series of disastrous colliery explosions, the big- gest of which occurred in 1910 when 136 lives were lost in Wellington Colliery, Whitehaven. In 1922 there was an explosion in Haig Colliery, Whitehaven, where the death roll was 39. A further explosion in 1927 cost four lives and, in 1928, when the explosion area was being ex- plored, the area fired again and killed 13 mine officials who were in the party. In 1931 there was again an explosion at Haig in which 27 lives were lost. Latterly the biggest disaster which has overtaken Whitehaven occurred in August 1947, at William Colliery; it cost 104 lives. This catalogue of tragic happenings instantly became top-line news of national or international import- ance. A host of journalists and special writers descended upon the town, all wanting a story for immediate transmission to their papers.

In these circumstances the telephone wires are taxed to capacity - they become, figuratively, red-hot, with 'The News' as a focal point for all comers. On these occasions, with the town plunged into the deepest mourning, the toll exacted in the win- ning of "Black Diamonds" is high indeed. Many stories of great bravery are brought to light. Rescuers - strong and courageous men - risk their lives time and again in unrelenting effort to get to their fellows. Great men these colliers - they are seen at their best when the natural forces against which they match their brain and brawn temporarily get the upper hand.

The year 1926 saw the greatest experiment in the history of the Trade Union movement in Great Britain. It was the year of the General Strike, when the T.U.C. attempted to bring the life of the nation to a standstill by calling out all its members

in all the constituent Unions which they represent- ed. The Trade Union movement in Britain has travelled a long way since those days. It was a challenge which had to be met and those who felt it rose as one man in an all-out effort to de- feat it. The craftsmen at 'The News' reluctantly obeyed the decree from Transport House. There were two apprentices who were not affected - both agreed to remain at work. Under the direc- tion of the writer of this history, news items and advertisements were put into type and a four page paper went to press at the appointed time. Not an issue was lost in spite of threats of the direst consequences emanating from a self- appointed council of action, who seeemed to sit in continuous session debating a way out of the impasses into which they had been plunged. The strike was short-lived and in a few days a deputation arrived with the object of making peace. The olive branch was at once accepted and from that moment the instrument of the General Strike has been rightly discarded.

In the year 1928 a regional planning scheme was approved for the County of Cumberland - the first sign that planning of any sort was either necessary or desirable. In 1933 the first survey (previously mentioned) by Professors Jeskes and Winterbottom appeared. This was followed in 1938 by WEST CUMBERLAND-A SURVEY OF INDUSTRIAL FACILITIES, by Professor G.H J. Daysh, of the Department of Geography, University of Durham, and in July, 1951, a further survey, revised and brought up-to-date by Professor Daysh and Miss E. M. Watson jointly, was published by The West Cumberland Industrial Development Co. Ltd., and the Cumberland Development Council, under the comprehensive title of CUMBERLAND. These surveys have proved extremely valuable, for they give vital information to industrialists who are considering putting down their factories in the West Cumberland Development Area.

They are of considerable value also to students who contemplate a career in geography and economics generally. It can be said, therefore, that as far as the industrial belt of West Cumberland is concerned it is well surveyed, both geographically and geophysically, thus forming a sound basis on which the economic life of the area can continue its development.

The Cumberland Development Council was formed in the year 1935 and in November of that year the Chief Commissioner for the Special Areas, the late Sir Malcolm Stewart, made a grant of 5,000 to that body as an initial contri- bution to the great work to which it had recently set its hand. Conditions were so bad that even the following year, 1936, the unemployed of Whitehaven marched to London publicly to protest against the Means Test in connection with the payments of public money to those who had run out of benefit from the National Unemploy- ment Contribution scheme.

Another striking episode occurred in the same year. On July 25th, 1937, the Rev. V. Fallona was ordained a priest at St. Begh's Church, the first Catholic ordination to take place in White- haven for 200 years. In August of the same year, The West Cumberland Industrial Development Co., Ltd. was formed. It is a company limited by guarantee and, like the Development Council, has no share capital. It grew out of the experi- ence gained by three years' work under the Special Areas Act. Its prime function is the building of factories and letting them on a rental basis to approved industrial tenants. Its operations are wholly financed by the Treasury.

The Company and the Council act together through a joint committee upon which members of both bodies sit. Since its inception the Company has spent almost 2,000,000 upon factory construction. The work of these joint concerns has had a profound effect on the economic life of the area.

Unemployment has disappeared. The area no longer relies upon the heavy industries alone. There are ample opportunities available for young people leaving school in the many new light industries which have been well established, and it can be said with some degree of certainty that the days of severe economic stress have, thanks to the planners, passed for ever.

The advent of new factories in the area had an immiediate effect on the fortunes of THE WHITEHAVEN NEWS. Circulation steadily expanded and the commercial printing section of the business grew in importance. Meanwhile the rise of intense Hitlerian Nationalism in Germ- any brought with it one crisis after another in the European scene. War clouds darkened the horizon and in the following year, 1939, the storm broke and Europe was plunged into the Second World War. For six years, until 1945, the country withstood the most exacting test of its moral and physical fibre. This time THE WHITEHAVEN NEWS was in a better position to see it through than in 1914-18. Moreover it immediately set to work to alleviate, as far as possible, the hardships of West Cumberland men and women serving in the Forces by the esta- blishment of a Comforts Fund. During the height of its activities more than 1,000 women were knitting woollen comforts and when the war ended, over 20,000 garments had been dis- patched to those serving in all branches of the Services at home and overseas.

An interesting editorial feature was also started by "Copeland" (W. S. Newall), now assistant editor of THE WHITEHAVEN NEWS. It was called "For Troops Only" and chronicled the doings of our men and women on active service throughout the free world. It was an extremely popular feature which brought stacks of letters from the war areas telling of places and experi- ences of those well known among our readership.

Meanwhile the disastrous aerial bombing of our cities accelerated the drift of factories into the comparative shelter of West Cumberland. Many new industries on vital production connected with the war swelled the growing demand for labour and many West Cumbrians who had left the area returned home and mingled with the strangers who had evacuted themselves and their families from the danger zones.

During this period the supply position in the newspaper industry grew more acute as the war developed. Newsprint was rationed very quickly and all other printing papers were placed on a quota basis. The business of THE WHITE- HAVEN NEWS LTD., in common with many others, was conducted midst a sea of difficulties, not only with regard to raw materials but from an ever-shrinking staff as the demands of the man- power boards, who raked the industry time and time again, became more insistent. The organisa- tion at 'The News' seemed to hang by a thread on many occasions and anything like a winter epidemic was viewed with some degree of anxiety. In those days the determination was to hang on at all costs and hammer out our prob- lems without regard to time and energy. In this way we won through many dark and anxious days.

The staff of THE WHITEHAVEN NEWS lost a high percentage of its complement. Clifford Roger Williams, Reginald Wigham, and Christopher Fitzsimons were all killed in action, whilst Ernest Shepherd died as a result of his war experiences. Alan Sandwith, wounded four times and Leonard Stephenson, wounded, survived. Out of eight men called to active service four lost their lives in battle and two were wounded -- grievous losses indeed for a provincial weekly newspaper.

Apart from the problems attendant upon the running of the newspapers under the strains and

stresses of total war, most of those who were left to carry on at home became heavily involved in the civilian side of the nation's war effort -- War Savings campaigns, the Civil Defence, youth training organisations, the broadcasting of policy to keep up morale, a top-secret wireless transmitter for use in the event of invasion. These, and many other matters, designed to fit into the turmoil of those desperate days demanded that last ounce of energy from those already living a busy and exact- ing life. Throughout the war the Savings campaigns reached an annual climax with a Savings Week which expressed itself in an all-out effort to raise sufficient money to buy a piece of war equipment; a tank, a bomber, a ship, and so on. A money raising target was always fixed in advance, and to those towns and rural areas who reached or sur- passed the amount, the National Committee were in the habit of presenting plaques, two of which now adorn the walls of the Council Chamber at White- haven. One of these efforts was "Navy Week" with the target 75,000 to pay for a mine sweeper flotilla leader to be called H.M.S. Whitehaven. The money was duly raised and the ship put into com- mission. She did meritorous service in the Mediter- ranian and elsewhere. Another effort was "Royal Air Force Week" and the target, sufficient to buy a bomber aircraft, was again hit. When the plaque for the latter was presented, the Air Ministry sent down a famous Battle of Britain pilot, one of those brave young men who Winston Churchill immorta- lised with his famous phrase "Never in the history of human endeavour has so much been achieved by so few." A function was duly arranged at which the presentation took place. It was at the Empress Ballroom, Whitehaven. After the function when the writer was taking him to tea , an Anson training air- craft approached Whitehaven from the north and,

p> when over the town, it broke up in the air scat- tering wreckage far and wide. The main part of the fuselage and engines crashed on The Brows at Kells, and five gallant airmen lost their lives. The Battle of Britain pilot was immediately taken to the scene of the accident and there he extrac- ted some vital and secret part from what was left of the machine. He who had braved so much quietly observed as we passed by the bodies "What a futile way to die." The utter futility of the way these fine men died bore heavily upon him and reduced him otherwise to silence.

May 8th, 1945, brough V.E. (Victory in Europe) Day, but it was not until August 15th, after the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Naga- saki that V.J. (Victory over Japan) Day was, to the great relief of all freedom-loving people, announced. For a short space everyone who could, gave themselves over to celebrations of victory, the shackles of a long and exhausting war were broken.

The early return of those of our fighting men who survived to the bosom of their families could be envisaged. Many fighting men from West Cumberland, particularly Whitehaven, were posted to the 4th Border Regiment and they, with the 203rd Battery R.F.A., a locally trained T. A. Gunner Unit, saw much service in the sweltering heat with the famous Wingate raiders. 'The News' Comforts Fund Committee sent them many comforts, including the much prized popular brands of English cigarettes. Batches of THE WHITEHAVEN NEWS were regularly dropped to them by air and there grew up a close and valuable connection with the units. Upon their embarkation for home something just had to be done about it. The names of the ships were obtained (don't ask how) and also the ports of arrival. From these the names and addresses of all Cumberland men were obtained and they, with

their wives and sweethearts, were invited by THE WHITEHAVEN NEWS to two buffet dances held in the Empress Ballroom, Whitehaven. Buses and motor cars brought them from all parts of the county wherever they resided. What a reunion! Men who had fought the Japanese and beat them in the most apalling conditions, when in direst peril in Burma, would take a treasured photograph of a wife, child, or sweetheart and show it to his pal with tender and longing affection. At these reunions they met. "Here she is Bill. Remember me showing you her photograph when we were in the Chitwynd Valley? Gee Whiz ! it's grand to be back home." Such scenes brought a lump into the throat, especially to those who had been overwhelmed with loss by death in action of some member of their family. The parties were hilarious indeed, rightly so, and were voted a great success.

Come what may, the end of the Second World War found THE WHITEHAVEN NEWS in better shape than ever. In spite of all the difficulties, its cir- culation had increased considerably. Its value as an advertising medium was amply demonstrated by the publication every half-year of its net sales, certified by the Audit Bureau of Circulations, an official body maintained by the national advertisers and news- papers jointly. The population was increasing in the area the paper served. More factories were springing up and labour, both male and female, was in short supply. The course was set fair for development in all directions. Raw materials were still in short supply and costs advanced slowly at first, but latterly with alarming rapidity, to dizzy heights. As this is being written, newsprint, 10 per ton in 1939, is now 65, and the upward movement may well continue. Print- ing papers in many cases are ten to twelve times higher than in 1939 and there are few grades of com- mercially used paper below eighteen pence a pound. Some are much higher.

Paper is an essential part of our commercial and industrial life and the shortage is world wide. The demand for printed matter continues to grow. To cope with this there was a crying need for new and faster machines. The war had held up the normal renewals and additions which would have been installed. Against this contingency THE WHITEHAVEN NEWS had placed orders for new Linotypes, printing machines, and high- speed ancillary machines to clear the bottle-necks created by insistant demand,and, more important, to hold down costs to the minimum. The normal period required by the makers for delivery was five years, at costs ruling at the time of erection. This meant considerable capital expenditure, but it was met and a much modern plant has been laid down in the post-war years. The process will continue until the organisation can effectively hold its own against the return of the healthy competitive spirit which disappeared with the onset of shortages in practically everything we use.

An interesting but perhaps minor development in recent years has been the demand for printing in foreign languages. To meet this THE WHITE- HAVEN NEWS has installed a complete fount of Greek type which is mainly used for the set- ting of scholastic examination papers. Demands, sometimes very urgent, have also been made for printing in French and Italian. These, too, have been successfully met. A more important development has been the introduction of an art department, together with a modern offset machine for lithographic printing. These innova- tions have considerably broadened our sphere of usefulness. A ruling plant was installed in 1940 and, later, a power-driven rotary perforating machine and a whole surface and strip glueing machine. Other items of new plant include a high-speed drilling and paper punching machine and fast metal and wood cutting saws - both high efficiency precision tools designed to speed

up ancillary processes. In 1948 a new super- speed Heidelberg printing machine reached us direct from the American-Occupied Zone of Germany. This self-feeding machine is capable of 5,000 impressions per hour and is one of seven "Automatics", as they are called, in production.

In the years 1949 and 1950 two members of THE WHITEHAVEN NEWS staff were appoint- ed to the Commission of the Peace and created Magistrates - W. S. Newall (assistant editor) and the writer. The chairman of directors, James McGowan, a Magistrate for 36 years, is still on the Supplementary List. It is worth recording that for over 60 years THE WHITEHAVEN NEWS has had continuous representation on the County Magistracy. For a period William McGowan, James McGowan, and John Jenkinson all served on the Commission of Peace together - this may be a unique record for a county weekly newspaper.

Like most newspapers, the history of THE WHITEHAVEN NEWS, particularly in its third phase, has been punctuated with threat of actions for libel. The law of libel as we know it needs amending to stop frivolous threats which, although they do not succeed, can be costly. All the actions started against THE WHITEHAVEN NEWS have either failed or have been settled out of Court. Most, if not all, of them should never have been brought, as none were started on serious grounds. No matter how careful a newspaper staff may be, it seems that it is only a matter of time before something slips through unnoticed about which someone takes umbrage. Then the machinery of the law is set in motion and someone must pay. In many cases the newspaper stands firm, and nothing more is heard about it; in others, it is different and "the wigs are one the green." It is they who then call the tune and a merry dance

goes on until someone either becomes exhausted or sees the utter futility of the whole proceedings and cries "Enough." A settlement of some sort is then arrived at (it could easily have been made at the beginning) and the episode closes. There is nothing more to be done but pay the bills.

In post-war years perhaps the most important news that hit the headlines was the elevation of John Jackson Adams to the peerage on Decem- ber 31st, 1948. "Jack" Adams has been secre- tary and general manager of the Cumberland Development Council since its inception in 1935. A former iron ore miner, trade union leader, and champion of the under-dog, his career up to that time had been packed with action. He was a Justice of the Peace, vice-chairman of the County Health Committee, and much more. He was, and still is, a human dynamo generating immense energy, which he freely spends. He hates red tape and cuts through it with ferocity. He knows the mind and face of officialism and when it be- comes obstructive he attacks. He is a hard hitter, and, regardless of personality or rank, he wades in knee-deep with all he has got. He generally wins.

The first steps for the formation of the Cum- berland Development Council took place in the room where the compiler now sits at The White- haven News Office. The few who were present came at his instigation, and it was at his sugges- tion that "Jack" Adams was invited to become manager and secretary. The district was in the doldrums and he was equipped with the mental and physical vigour to bring it out. This is not the place to tell the fascinating story of his life, but this can be said: From the year 1935 to 1948 the industrial belt of West Cumberland was completely rehabilitated. Its industry was so supplemented that it should never again fall into the utter decay which was experienced when it relied entirely upon the production of iron ore, coal and iron and steel.

For the outstanding part he played in that, he was first awarded the O.B.E. and, following a highly successful Industrial Exhibition held at Salterbeck, Workington, in August 1948, he was enobled and became a Baron. This was indeed top-line news. The compiler was let into the secret on November 12th. The dead-line for publication was December 31st at 4 p.m. Mean- time the main details of his career were quietly prepared. He was photographed and prints were made ready to send out to all newspapers. Forty-eight hours beforehand these details, with photographs, were sent out "Not for publication until 4 p.m., December 31st." This date hap- pened to be a Friday and the sister part of THE WHITEHAVEN NEWS, THE WEST CUMB- ERLAND NEWS, went to press on that night.

The about-to-become Lord Adams was invited, with some of his immediate staff, to see the paper go to press and from that moment it was "Lord Adams." In a few minutes those present, includ- ing some of the editorial and mechanical staff of THE WHITEHAVEN NEWS, retired into the office and there, with an appropriate speech, the health of our newly-created Baron was toasted. When he replied this rugged man of granite, this man born into the family of an iron ore miner in the mean streets of Arlecdon,almost broke down. He was as near to emotion as ever he will be on a public occasion. He seemed to be standing on the brink of the unknown, waiting for the inevit- able plunge into uncharted seas. For once the swift march of events appeared to have over- taken him and the future was in doubt. His Maj- esty the King, in his wisdom, had, in one fell swoop, swept him into the ethereal atmosphere of the Lords spiritual and temporal. It was a tremendous event, not only for himself but also for his wife, who then became Lady Adams. To the close observer it was just another link forged into the chain of events of a rapidly developing revolution in the political, economic, and social

life of the nation. The compiler was privileged to be present in the House of Lords when the cere- mony of ennoblement was enacted. For the event the Lord Chancellor (Viscount Jowett) sat on the Woolsack. Immediately after, he was to leave the House and, before doing so with due form and cere- mony, he installed Lord Ammon. There, he re- flected, on the mightiest seat in British constitutional history, sat a London postman - thirty years a post- man in Camberwell ! Perhaps that outstanding event will convey more to the reader who wishes to learn how far we have travelled on the road towards the ultimate in Democratic Government, for on that day too, John Jackson Adams became The Right Honourable Lord Adams, Baron of Ennerdale, in his own right.

One of the outstanding features in the industrial revolution which has occurred in West Cumberland since 1935 has been the valuable contribution made by those, particularly from the Continent of Europe, who have established factories in the industrial belt of the county. Many of them had previously end- ured much and lost all they had save their faith in the British people and their way of life, and also their own special knowledge and dynamic energy.

It is not the first time in our history that Britain's industrial life has been well and truly fertilised by the brains of Continental refugees. In some cases, at great personal peril to their wives and families, they escaped from Eastern Europe just before Nazi Germany unleashed her ghastly persecutions of a noble race, which later developed into a holocaust, leaving an indelible stain on the pages of German history. It seems futile, in the light of those cruel and merciless days, to call attention to the great contri- bution made to German culture by Jewry. In litera- ture, science, art, and industry throughout the rise

to power of the German nation, it brought incal- culable benefits to its structure. Yet, in their thirst for power, the German people sold the pass to Hitler and his thugs who,in a few terrible years, were to die an ignominious death as the German nation crashed in a welter of blood and fire. Not all our newcomers came from the Continent. Many were already established in Britain, and they joined forces in a formidable piece of indus- trial planning, teaching the native folks many new processes giving them lucrative employment - and, in a great sense, security and consequent happiness. To them we owe a great debt of gratitude which must never be forgotten, for they also brought lasting benefit to the few industries already established in West Cumberland, and THE WHITEHAVEN NEWS was one of them.

Phase II <<    >> Epilogue

© Barb Baker