Whitehaven News Centenary Book

P H A S E   II. continued

GEORGE STALKER was a distinguished journalist. He wrote the leading articles in "THE WHITEHAVEN NEWS" until his death in 1927. The manner of his writing and the depth of his knowledge endowed the paper with great dignity. What he had to say was listened to and treated with respect, for he was invariably correct. There was no argument when he dealt with facts and figures. He had checked them all on his slide rule, which he could read like a book, beforehand. Mathematics, science, art, literature, finance, he wrote with a sense of authority on them all. He had an insatiable thirst after knowledge, and would not be satisfied until he knew all he wanted to know about the subject, which, for the time being, urged him on.

He wrote with a quill. A bundle of goose quills, with a quill cutter, were always to be seen on his desk. The scratch of the reed over his paper was music in his ears as he built up, step by step, with relentless logic, some devastating criticism of public policy. He was unassailable, and in his latter day a cynic, intolerant of those who challenged his considered views. It was said of him that he had two ink pots - one of them contained vitriol ! Yet he fitted well into the mosaic of his day and the pattern of those who surrounded him, for he gave the paper personal- ity. His brusque manner was offset by the quiet, aesthetic dignity of Robert Foster. It was Gilbert and Sullivan over again, for there were many estrangements. Both would go to ground and sulk their way out again in due season. A story is told of George Stalker which is worth repeat- ing here. It occurred shortly after the penny- farthing bicycle was superseded by the hard solid-type with two wheels of equal diameter. Stalker then took up cycling with his usual zeal and was particularly keen on the physical benefits which could accrue to those who cycled in the proper way.

He studied it and practised riding sitting upright like a ramrod, crouched over the handle bars, with seat high, with seat low, and so on. Finally, he would arrive at his conclusions and in a positive manner tell his readers exactly how to do it. The day he did so he was riding his own bicycle through one of the main streets of White- haven when he fell off the contraption, largely through following his own directions.

The town rocked with laughter over that episode and he never really lived it down. In his latter day George Stalker had two recreations, chess and whist. He was good at both, but could not resist the temptation to hold inquests at the slightest provocation. He was too precise, and towards the end, most of his associates fell away, and he became rather a lonely figure.

Yes, George Stalker was a man of pronounced character. He was honest, forthright, and hated sham, which he would vigorously attack on all occasions. He was a student to the end. It seems a pity that his wide and intense learning carried him above his surroundings; he lost the common touch and the milk of human kindness was not in him.

JOHN JENKINSON was the eldest son of Joseph and Hannah Jenkinson and was born in St. Bees on February 17, 1857, nearly five years after the first issue of THE WHITEHAVEN NEWS was published. For a short period he had the advantage of free education at St. Bees Grammar School, but the removal of the family to Whitehaven made other arrangements neces- sary. His father had taken an appointment at Croft Pit, Whitehaven, where they went to live in a little cottage which still stands in the pit yard. At the age of 13 he was an apprentice compos- itor at THE WHITEHAVEN NEWS. With a short break, he was with the paper to the end -- a period of 52 years.

In turn he attained the positions of reader, works manager, and acting editor during the periods when George Stalker was away from his desk owing to illness. John Jenkinson was a prodigious worker. He revelled in it and became a mine of information about people and places which was invaluable to those about him. He grew into an ardent man with deep religious, political, and social convictions which enabled him to make great contributions throughout his life to the good and welfare of his town and district and to those who lived about him. He was transparently honest in his motives and his out- standing character endowed him with a radiance which warmed and often sustained those who came to him with their troubles.

His advice was wise and poured from him in a seemingly effortless way. It seemed to come from a deep and everlasting source within. How likeable he was for those sterling characteristics, and how generous ! There is no doubt that the seed of his deep religious fervour was planted by his parents. It grew in him until it towered high with the stature of a cedar of Lebanon.

As a young man he attended the Whitehaven Primitive Methodist Sunday School, although his parents were of the Established Church. He soon began to attend the church services and became deeply responsive to the spiritual influ- ences which surrounded him there. When no more than 14 years old, he stayed behind to the Prayer Meetings and soon immersed himself in the Church. His religion gave him strength and immense courage and we soon find him giving of his time and undoubted talents in an all-out display of zeal and energy. He was a class leader and was soon asked to accompany older preachers on circuit missions. So began his long record of faithful service as a local preacher. This extended over 46 years and for over 20 years he was a Sunday School superintendant. He loved children and knew them all by name. In due season he married and reared a family. This is what one of them, the Rev. J. Wilfrid Jenkinson, has to say about his father:

"One cannot very well lift the veil and reveal the intimacies of the family circle, but this much can be said, that no one of us is ever likely to forget the altar on the hearthstone. On Sabbath evenings, especially after a day of strenuous Christian service, as we knelt together, father would return thanks for the privilege of the day, and then, naming each one of us in turn, would ask for the Divine Blessing to attend us. There was nothing of unreality in this. It was in keeping with the life he lived and the influence of it cannot die."

John Jenkinson was an ardent Liberal in politics and an enthusiast in the cause of temperance. Eighteen yeas before his death he became a member of the Board of Guardians, where he found a wide field of endeavour in social welfare. He was later appointed vice-chairman and, finally, chairman of that body.

In 1918 he was appointed a County Magistrate and, in this important sphere,he made, as can be well imagined, an important contribution to the work on the Whitehaven Bench. He died sudd- enly in September, 1922, after 52 years' service with THE WHITEHAVEN NEWS. He was 65 years of age.

"EWANRIGG," 1894 - 1938

GEORGE GILKERSON CARTER will always be remembered by his pen name which heads this page. For forty-four years he was respons- ible for a wide agricultural and industrial area with headquarters at Maryport where 'The News' office is situated. Few journalists have ever made such an impresion or have left as long a memory in the town in which they worked. He was a native of the City of Carlisle, where he began his career on the editorial staff of THE CARLISLE JOURNAL. After a relatively short period he accepted a post with THE WHITEHAVEN NEWS,working for a year or so in Cockermouth before going to Maryport in charge of the branch office; then, as now, in Senhouse Street. There, with the aid of an apprentice, he took control of reporting, advertising, and distribution of THE MARYPORT NEWS, one of the three Saturday newspapers then printed weekly by THE WHITEHAVEN NEWS LTD., as well as look- ing after the interests of the parent newspaper.

G. G. Carter was a constant reader of books throughout his life; he had a good command of words and a fine sense of humour which enlivened his columns. When he took up his work at Maryport, the town was a thriving sea- port, rising to its zenith about 1898. Those were the days of verbatim reports of political meetings, of urban and rural council meetings, even the parish council could not be neglected. The police courts were reported at considerable length, consequently life was a busy round of engage- ments through the day and often far into the night. He was, of course, an expert shorthand writer and succeeded in turning out mountains of "copy" for the every-hungry newpapers from his notes. He will be remembered more fittingly by his two columns of original matter, a weekly feature entitled "Things in General at Maryport"

which he wrote under the pen name of "Ewanrigg". Such columnists, now a feature of British and American newspapers, had their beginnings in men like G. G. Carter. The news- papers produced by THE WHITEHAVEN NEWS LTD. must have been among the first to adopt the practice, which gave the widest freedom in principle and practice to the experi- enced journalists who were entrusted to them. Many, in the course of years, endowed their papers with great personality. They created an intimate link between writer and readers, who looked upon their "Local Rag", as it was often called, as part of themselves and their home town. Upon such foundations weekly news- papers have built to endure; they are as sure as anything can be.

G.G. Carter realised in his early days that expert reporting and original writings were not enough, so he set out to specialise in certain branches of agriculture. He made a close study of pedigree breeding in horses and cattle and also in the breeding of Herdwick sheep,common to all farms in the fell dales. His writings became widely known throughout the county of Cumber- land and in North Lancashire. They became authoritative and accurate and were accepted by the farming communities for their helpful and con- structive suggestions and advice. When on holi- day G. G. Carter never lost an opportunity of visiting the racing stables of leading owners and trainers that were within reach. He never gambled but his intimate knowledge of pedigree breeding enabled him on two or three occasions to name the winners of races, especially where stamina was demanded, and particularly in heavy going.

He became a valuable asset to those breeders and trainers, for he would write about those whose experiments met with a measure of success. Many of these articles appeared in the National Journals devoted to agriculture having

circulation abroad, which resulted in inquiries, often leading to substantial business in livestock for export. He was fond of cycling, which he often needed in his search for news, and also tennis. He also enjoyed the Rugby League games with which the county of Cumerland has always been associated, and he was a lover of the Lake District, where he spent many of his week-ends. In his writings he added a word to the English language which is now in everyday use - the word is "Lakeland." He was the first so to describe the Lake District. His sense of humour has already been mentioned and he was quick to see humour in news. The following news item from his pen went round the world:

"Mr. Hugh Savage had a pet cockatoo which became an excellent talker. Every day Hugh would go to its cage and stage a fight with it, saying 'Look out, I am Hugh Savage's fighting cockatoo.' The bird duly responded and fought back with beak and claw, carrying the fight into the fingers and knuckles of his master, and ultimately speaking his language in the plainest English. As time went on, the cockatoo was allowed out of the cage and flitted about the kitchen talking volubly while cleansing processes were taking place. Unfortunately, one day the kitchen window was left open, and out sailed the cockatoo into the wide open spaces. It was next sighted on the roof of a house, where there was great commotion. The cockatoo was being attacked by seagulls, and was retaliating with vicious jabs with claw and beak, screeching.. "Look out, I am Hugh Savage's fighting cokatoo. I'll take the lot on - but yan at a time" at the flurrying gulls. The townsfolk rocked with laughter at his story. It was picked up by a news agency and sent round the world. From twenty-four countries, including Brazil, Egypt, and Japan, requests were received for more about the fighting cockatoo.

A serious illness ended his active career in 1931, but he made a partial recovery and bravely took up his pen again to write his notes in THE MARYPORT NEWS then in its form incorpora- ted in THE WEST CUMBERLAND NEWS.

For a short while he battled on, then finally retired. He died in 1938. His passing left a vacuum at Maryport. His knowledge of men and things was encyclopaedic, not only of Maryport but of Cumberland's people and its industries. A mine of information was lost to those who sur- rounded him. Like most journalists of his day, he was apt to be hard on his apprentices. He was impatient and intolerant of error or failure. Some of his young men could not stay the course. Those who did stepped out into the wide fields of journalism never regretting their training at Maryport - for they could hold their own any- where. Long before he died "Ewanrigg" had firmly planted the seeds of journalism in two of his sons.

George Gilkerson Carter, the present editor of THE WHITEHAVEN NEWS, and Walter Scott Carter, who succeeded his father at Maryport, where he is in charge to the present day.

"SAM"     1850-1928

SAM SHEPHERD was born in 1850. His service with THE WHITEHAVEN NEWS commenced when he was 21 years of age and lasted for 52 years. He was typical of his breed. Even in the coldest weather - there was no central heating in those days - he could be seen with jacket off, shirt sleeves rolled up, white apron, and bowler hat. That was his badge of office. In his own sphere he was lord of all he surveyed, an autocrat who would brook neither interference nor any slackening of discipline about him. Sam stood for a great tradition in the Caxton manner and he was known for what he was, a printer first, last, and all the time.

He would never go home while there was work to be done, and, whatever the time of his leaving, promptly at the appointed hour he would be there on the morrow. He must see his men set away with their respective jobs with- out waste of time. He was accepted by those who worked with him - at least three did for over 50 years - for behind his facade of ruggedness he was mellow and very loyal to them, as he was to his employers. In those early days there was no trade union to take up the cudgels if anything went wrong or grievances were to be removed. Sam was the man who listened to these and, having judged them aright, would carry them to the proprietor and get them settled.

He was indeed "Father of the Chapel". From the earliest days a body of printers working together was called a "chapel", and the head man was traditionally its "father". The practice continues in many places to this day. Sam could always be relied on to make his presence felt on such occasions, and for that reason he was "looked up to" by his brother compositors.

There is no doubt that he was a tower of strength to the paper, for his absolute loyalty and devotion were never in doubt. Looking back, he seemed to have stepped out of a page of printing history into a world which was not his, and, latterly, when things started to move into a faster tempo, he was, and looked, bewildered. During a peak hour on one occasion, when work was being fed to him at much too fast a rate for his comfort, in the broadest Cumberland dialect, and with a tragic look on his face, he exclaimed in supplica- tion, "Lukster, Ah've only yan pair o' hands." True, but in hand and mind he was a fast and skilful craftsman who paid no regard to the number of hours he worked. His craft was deep- ly rooted in him and he honoured it as a calling, to which he gave his life. Difficulties, and there were many, were to him part of the day's work, and he would stick to them, hanging on with great and prolonged determination until the solution found. It is said that you cannot make bricks without straw, and, in these days, with all the modern equipment of the press room, there is perhaps a lesson to be learned in looking back- wards to examine the newspaper files of 50 years ago. They turned out an excellent printing job in those days with very little equipment, and tribute can be paid to their craftsmanship, hard work, and inexhaustible patience. They were the days of long, often verbatim reports of council and political meetings and also of Police Court proceedings. To-day all news is condensed to make room for more and more coverage. This latter-day development has expanded the service which county weeklies offer their readers, and it has also had a beneficial influence on the steady growth which most of them have made in reader- ship. Sam lived for five years in comfortable and quiet retirement before dying at the age of 78. Mention must also be made of

James Dawson Smith (who succeeded Sam Shepherd as foreman, Joseph Wear, and Joseph Armstrong, all compositors, who were retired on pension within a few years and all of whom had 50 or more years of service to their credit. The old guard indeed !

And 'tis thus with our noble profession,
and thus it will ever be; still
There are some who value its labours, and
some who, perhaps never will
But in the great time that is coming,
when loudly the trumpet shall sound
And they who have striven and suffered to
teach and ennoble the race
Shall march in the front of the column each
one to his God-given place,
As they pass through the gates of The City
with proud and victorious tread,
The Editor, PRINTER, and "devil" will travel
not far from the head.

**DEVIL is the generic name for a spirit of evil. It is given as a name to many destructive and repulsive aimals and to boy assistants in printing houses, probably because of their inky appearance. - 'Vide ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA, 14th Edition.
**COMPILER'S NOTE. - The above is not as satisfying as it might be. The printer's "devil" was an apprentice who did the inking by hand roller in the days of the hand-pulled press. He washed the type and did all the fetching and carrying for the printer. In other words, he did the "devilling".

These are the men who made and sustained THE WHITEHAVEN NEWS well into the twentieth century.

On November 25th, 1895, the first mechanical composing machine - the Linotype - was installed at the 'News' and, in the following year, August 13th, 1896, a second unit was purchased. The hand compositors thought the end of their craft, as far as newspapers were concerned, was in sight, for one Linotype could set mechanically the output of approximately eight men by hand. Their fears proved to be unfounded, for the coming of the Linotype heralded a new era for newspapers and printers generally. From that time newspapers, particularly the dailies, com- menced to expand in size and print more editions. Moreover, as new type was cast for every issue, the printing improved in clarity and cleanliness.

It was about this time that a new printing machine was installed. It was a two-feeder Wharfedale machine made at Otley. The machine was fed with sheets by a man at each end and its output was in the region of 1,500 sheets per hour, delivered flat. These had then to be put through a folding machine - a long and tedious job. In those days it was usually well after midnight when the paper was got to press; consequently the production went on throughout the night, finishing about 6 a.m. on Thursdays.

The edition was then circulated through the newsagents and newsboys. The latter, in those bad old days, were allowed a morning off from school by their head masters to go on their rounds. Some of them also carried THE CUMBERLAND PACQUET, the Conservative organ. One such newsboy, who is still alive and vigorous, recalls that at one house of call where the master was a Conservative, he was ordered to leave 'The Pacquet'. Invariably, his wife asked to see THE WHITEHAVEN NEWS and, to keep the waiting boy quiet while she

enjoyed herself for twenty minutes or more, she gave him what he describes as two thick rounds of home-made bread with a generous amount of treacle; this not only delayed him but turned face and hands into a dark, sticky mess. He was a growing boy "with a lean and hungry look" so he willingly endured that. Competition to get cir- culation was lively and keen, but, in those days the population was either static or showed little movement. THE WHITEHAVEN NEWS was always many jumps ahead of THE PACQUET, mainly owing to the strength of its editorial staff and consequently better news service and leading articles. 'The News' was credited with a cir- culation of over 8,000 copies per issue in the early part of the present century and for some time little movement either way is indicated. In due course two more Linotypes were installed, bringing the equipment of the office up to four, which, in those days, was ample to meet all demands likey to be made on the composing side. About this time an attempt was made to improve and speed up the printing and a Lancashire flat-bed web press, printing from reels of paper instead of sheets, was installed. It was not successful and production was finally transferred back to the two-feeder, which remained in operation until 1925. Meanwhile, for many years, little, if anything, was done to further improve the capital equipment of the undertaking or the premises in which the office and works were housed, and gradually both plant and buildings fell into poor shape for lack of attention.

Robert Foster was not a business man and would not engage a manager. To the end he tried to occupy both chairs. Consequently, the business side of the paper was neglected for many years. The advertisement rates were quite out of step with production costs, and he kept his eyes closed to the vigorous and distasteful action which was necessary to correct the balance.

For many years the paper barely kept its head above water. With his advancing years there was no prospect that it could do so. The palsy that had fastened itself upon the business grew more actute and the balance sheets told their doleful tale. The outbreak of war in the year 1914 brought with it many growing and acute prob- lems. Up to 80 a ton was paid for newsprint in sheets bought indirectly instead of direct from the mills - over ten times the price normally paid. Robert Foster endured much, for he must have seen the red light. He continued, however,almost throughout that devasting period and it was not until July, 1918, that he finally gave up the battle and retired. For a while he continued to live in Corkickle, Whitehaven. Then he went to his birthplace, the city of York, thinking that he could find some of the friends of his early days. He soon returned, sad and disillusioned, for he was a stranger and alone in his native city. Afterwards he lived for a short period in Seascale, Cumber- land, and, finally, he returned to Whitehaven, where he was well known and respected. He died on August 5th, 1926.

At the beginning of the present century the directors were:
David Ainsworth, Robert Foster,
Robert Jefferson, W . H. Kichin,
and William McGowan

Ten years later the Directors were
reduced to three:
Robert Foster, W. H. Kitchin,
and William McGowan

In 1917 Edward Atter took the
place of W. H. Kitchin.

These names indicate a strong Liberal concen- tration, in keeping with the political policy of THE WHITEHAVEN NEWS since the early eighties and throughout the second phase in the paper's history.

The first members of THE WHITEHAVEN NEWS LIMITED, at the time of its registration in 1881, were:

DAVID AINSWORTH, The Flosh, Cleator.
EDWARD WAUGH, The Borroughs, Cockermouth
WILLIAM COURT GULLY, 65, Queensborough Terrace London
WILLIAM BURNYEAT, Jnr., Millgrove, Whitehaven
ROBERT JEFFERSON, Rothersyke, Egremont
ALFRED HODGETTS, Abbots Court, St. Bees
GEORGE JACKSON, Vale View, Whitehaven
EDWARD ATTER, Sea View, Whitehaven
THOMAS C. DIXON, Roper Street, Whitehaven
JOHN S. MCGOWAN, Corkickle, Whitehaven
WILLIAM MCGOWAN, Corkickle, Whitehaven
ROBERT FOSTER, Corkickle, Whitehaven
WILLIAM KITCHIN, Irish Street, Whitehaven
ARCHIBALD KITCHIN, Cross Street, Whitehaven
ANDREW KENNEDY, Foxhouses, Whitehaven
THOMAS BROCKLEBANK, Jnr., The Hollins, Woolton, Liverpool
JOHN CAMPBELL, 53, High Street, Maryport
THOMAS BROCKLEBANK, Springwood, Atherton, Liverpool

In 1888 two further members were added:
THOMAS SADDLER DOUGLAS, Ellerkeld, Workington
JAMES DUFFIELD, Ashfield, Workington

Phase II <<    >> Phase III

© Barb Baker