100 Years 1967

Tillotsons

A history of the Tillotson family from Bolton, Lancashire, from 1831

Bolton Evening News

The following is an extract from the Newspaper Society's Journal for March 1967 when The Bolton Evening News was celebrating its centenary and Marcus Tillotson was president of the Newspaper Society

THE Bolton Evening News, celebrating its centenary on March 19th, 1967, has spanned in its 100 years’ existence the whole lifetime of the half-penny evening newspaper. When William Frederic Tillotson launched his paper on his 23rd birthday he knew of no other half-penny evening paper in the country. lt is significant that in the next 40 years 106 half-penny evening papers came into being.

The name of Tillotson has been associated with printing in Bolton for 133 years. In 1834 John Tillotson, son of a Primitive Methodist Minister, became apprenticed to Robert Marsden Holden in Mealhouse Lane. He married his employer’s sister, became partner in the business and then owner and by 1865 had moved to larger premises in Mawdsley Street. It was here that his son William Frederic, 12 months after being taken into partnership by his father began to print the evening paper.

Despite handicaps, W. F. Tillotson published two editions daily, the first at 5 p.m. and the second at 6 p.m. The paper consisted of four pages of four columns and it carried market reports, local and national news and racing news ' and results.

In 1871 William Brimelow joined the Evening News as its first editor and in the next four years a series of five weekly papers, circulating in South Lancashire, were added to the evening paper. Within a few months of starting the first of them, the Bolton Journal, W. F. Tillotson had also begun a Fiction Bureau which made stories by famous‘ authors of the day available in serial form to papers throughout the British Empire.

Mr. Brimelow was to become one of the outstanding figures in the newspaper world. He was twice chairman of the Press Association, in 1902 and again in 1911. When he died in 1913 it was stated that for over 20 years no legislation affecting newspapers was introduced or passed without his being called into consultation.

When W. F. Tillotson died at the age of 44 the control of the business was left in the hands of his widow, Mary Tillotson, who had an able advisor in her brother, Mr. W. H. Lever, afterwards the first Lord Leverhulme, and of William Brimelow who in 1874 had been made a partner. Plans which he had made to build new premises were proceeded with and in 1890 the firm of Tillotson returned to Mealhouse Lane. By this time the size of the Evening News had increased five-fold and its four Victory rotary presses printed at the rate of 80,000 per hour.

Almost immediately after the move back to Mealhouse Lane the business entered a new era on its printing side. Mr. Tillotson’s eldest son, John, had entered the firm in 1896 and in true pioneer tradition he introduced into this country the retouched half tone process. The house of Tillotson, as a result, gained world wide fame for its fine quality printing.

In 1919 the structure of the company was changed to make Tillotson and Son a holding company with Tillotsons (Bolton) Limited, Tillotsons (Liverpool) Limited and Tillotsons Newspapers Limited, as subsidiaries. Mr. Richard Rushton was secretary and a director. Mr. Fred Tillotson had been editor-in-chief of the Evening News and the Journals since 1913 and on the foundation of the newspaper company be became its chairman. In 1927 he relinquished the editorial chair and appointed as editor Isaac Edwards, but when Mr. Edwards died suddenly whilst returning from a Newspaper Society meeting in London in 1941, he again acted as editor until the appointment in 1945 of Mr. Frank Singleton. Mr. Edwards had been made a director on his appointment and another member of the Board at this time was Mr. Robert Sheppard, advertisement manager and a man known in most newspaper offices in the country through his connection with the Fiction Department. He had been made a director in 1923 and when he died in 1934 he was within a few months of completing 50 years with the firm.

In the year prior to the death of Isaac Edwards the firm had suffered another loss with the death of Mr. Lever Tillotson. He was succeeded as chairman of the Liverpool concern by his son, Mr. Geoffrey L. Tillotson, whilst with the end of the 1939-45 war the three sons of Mr. F. L. Tillotson, Mr. John, Mr. Marcus and Mr. Alan Tillotson, who had been serving in the forces, came back into the business.

The post war years saw a burst of expansion not only in the established companies but into what was to the firm the new field of packaging. The printing and the publishing business, so long under one roof, in 1955 broke their 88 years old domestic ties as the printing business moved into a new factory in Manchester Road, Bolton; Liverpool built another 100,000 square feet of factory space on to the premises in Commercial Road, and new factories for the packaging firms were built at Burwell and Monmouth. In 1955 Tillotson and Son became a public company and in 1958 its head offices were moved to Ashleigh, Chorley New Road.

Mr. Fred Tillotson died in 1958 after 56 years as a director of the firm. In 1954 he relinquished the chairmanship .of Tillotson and Son and was succeeded by his nephew, Mr. Geoffrey L. Tillotson, and in 1956 he handed over the control of the Newspaper Company to his second son, Mr. Marcus Tillotson. The newspapers, too, shared in the postwar expansion. In 1925 the Horwich and Westhoughtdn Journal had been added to the five weekly papers in the Lancashire Journal series. In the pioneer spirit again a new weekly paper was launched in Stretford and Urmston in 1960 at a time when the newspaper industry was contracting, and today it is a flourishing member of the series. In 1960/61 the interior of the Mealhouse Lane premises was completely rebuilt to provide the firm with one of the most modern newspaper offices in the country and in 1963 the four weekly papers in the Stoke City Times series were acquired. All the Tillotson publications are printed at Mealhouse Lane. In, addition .to those at Stretford and Urmston new Branch Offices have been opened since the war in Bury, Hindley and Walkden. Today the firm has 14 branch offices, the majority of‘ which have been modernised during the past five years.

In February this year the combined sale of the seven weekly papers in the Lancashire Journal series reached 100,000 for the first time in their history.

The Editor-in-chief of Tillotsons Newspapers Limited is Mr. T. H. Cooke.

Throughout its existence one of the outstanding traditions of the firm has been the close family relationship that has been fostered by successive generations of employers and employees. In 1867 the newspaper firm had fewer than 20 employees. Today the total is over 400. As the business grew sons and daughters followed their parents into the employ of the firm. Today the great grandsons of the founder are chairmen of the various companies and serve on the various boards of directors. Chairman of the parent company and of Tillotsons (Liverpool) Limited is Mr. Geoffrey Tillotson, Mr. John Tillotson deputy chairman, is also chairman of Tillotsons (Bolton) Limited, Mr. Alan Tillotson is chairman of Tillotsons Corrugated Cases and Tillotsons Containers Limited. Mr. Marcus Tillotson, Chairman of Tillotsons Newspapers Limited, is, of course, this year’s President of the Newspaper Society and has presented to the Society a jewelled medallion for evening wear to mark the Evening News Centenary year.

To mark the centenary a special service is to be held on March 19th at the St. George’s Road Congregational Church, Bolton, in the vestry of which W. F. Tillotson and the then minister, the Rev. W. H. Davison, who in the paper’s early years wrote the leader column, discussed plans for the launching of a local evening paper and named it the Bolton Evening News. The service will be attended by the Mayor and Mayoress of Bolton.

A gift is also to be made to the church and to the Bolton Corporation and on Monday, March 20th, a dinner is being given to all employees who will also receive monetary gifts. There will also be a luncheon at the Stationers’ Hall, London, on April 5th.

email: petertillotson@btinternet.com

MARCUS TILLOTSON

Chairman Tillotson's Newspapers

President Newspaper Society 1967