100 Years 1967

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.       


Chairman Tillotson's Newspapers

President Newspaper Society 1967