Faringdon Free Press and Vale of White Horse Herald 1860
The first edition was dated 6th January 1860. The publisher was Jeremiah Smith of Marlborough Street. A copy was shown to the newspaper staff present at the Faringdon Advertiser stand during the Faringdon Trade Fair; as reported in Faringdon Advertiser, Thursday 7th January 1960.
Faringdon Advertiser & Vale of the White Horse Gazette c1858-1963
The paper was produced and printed every Saturday morning by Charles Luker from his newsagent shop at 4 London Street (at least 1891-1931). The shop became W.H.Smiths in the 1970s, and is now London Street Barbers. The paper was sold initially for three-ha’pence, 1½d (<1p) but was reduced to 1d in 1897 and remained as such for the next 30 years.
The first two columns on the front page shown here, dated 14 August 1869, are taken up largely by advertisements of sales by auction of land, livestock and other property. Then we have Mr C.W.E Butler, a surgeon dentist in Gloucester Street offering “Teeth extracted for the poor, free of charge”. A Ladies’ School in Highworth advertises “A good sound education imparted together with every home comfort. The air of Highworth is exceedingly healthy and invigorating”. There are advertisements for female servants, a good cook, a groom (married), and ten carpenters. The Wheat Sheath Inn in London Street is advertising bulk sales of Anglo-Bavarian Ales with a full price list, for example: No.1 Mild Ale for 54/- per barrel, 27/- per Kilderkin and 13/6 per Firkin. There is a very long (expensive?) advert taking up more than half a column for Holloway’s Pills which are apparently the best remedy for nervous disorders, female complaints, headaches, loss of appetite, bowel problems and a whole list of every illness known to mankind.
In 1931, the paper still only cost 1d and the day had changed to Fridays. By 1960, the paper’s name had been simplified to just the ‘Faringdon Advertiser’ (possibly in 1942?), was produced every Thursday and cost tuppence, 2d (<1p). There were complaints that it contained little that actually concerned Faringdon, but then I suppose the sleepy town had little to tell. News from the surrounding villages was included but much space was given to articles and adverts as far afield as Witney, Cirencester, Oxford, and Reading; who surely had their own local press. Only two or three of the many shops in Faringdon were bothered to place advertisements in the paper but it did improve in subsequent years.
The issue of the paper on 25th June 1937 states that West Midlands Newspapers Ltd had controlled the destinies of the newspaper for the past 15 months and that they had decided that “the paper is no longer to be issued”. Although it seems to have appeared again by 1940.
According to the Faringdon Advertiser in 1960, the paper was estimated to have been established in 1858 by working backwards from the earliest copy in the company’s possession, which was No. 659 published in January 1861. Older copies were said to have been seen so there may have been gaps in publication. At one publication a week, I make that 1861-659/52 = 1848 not 58, even if they closed for a week or two at Christmas.
Full-size and readable pages from over two thousand issues can be viewed at The British Newspaper Archive. Also a copy of some of the past issues are stored in the society archives 1887-1909 (1 copy for some years), 1914 (9), 1915-18, 1916 (24), 1919 (18), 1925-37, 1931 (16), 1940 (1), 1941 (1), 1960 (48), 1961 (20), 1962 (4), 1963 (5).
North Wilts Herald (Berks Edition) 1861-1987
On 2 July 1937, the ‘Berks edition’ of North Wilts Herald became headlined as ‘The Faringdon News‘. It proclaimed to be “The only newspaper published solely for Faringdon and District.” This presumably followed the temporary demise of the Faringdon Advertiser the previous week. The title was dropped however in 1942. A copy of two issues from 1937 are stored in the society archives.
In 1942, the North Wilts Herald amalgamated with the Swindon Advertiser and Monthly Record (founded in 1854). It took over a shop in Faringdon at 15 London Street. (This was next to David Pitt’s Mini Market, which both later became part of Davis DIY.) It then amalgamated again in 1956 with the Wiltshire Gazette (founded 1816) to become the Wiltshire Gazette and Herald. The ‘Berkshire edition’ remained in existence as a weekly newspaper throughout these changes and covered Wantage, Faringdon and Hungerford. Local news for Faringdon was apparently a bit thin though.
In the 1970s (photo) the shop in Faringdon at 15 London Street was called “Evening Advertiser & Wiltshire Gazette”.
Reference: National Archives – North Wilts Herald
Faringdon and The Vale Venture 1972-73
The first issue, Saturday 29th January 1972 (shown here) was free, then the charge remained at 4p until the last one, which was Issue 44 on 22nd December the following year. It was published fortnightly and the first issue states that “This newspaper is a non-profit making organisation, started as a subgroup of the Adventure Playground Project. It is a community venture run by the people of Faringdon”. It started off with some negativity about the purpose of the paper and the town in general, perhaps comparable to that provided by the social media trolls of today. An obvious complaint, concerning the readability of the original title ‘Faringdon Venture’ was rectified by the 11th issue and the title changed to ‘Faringdon and The Vale Venture’. The paper published comments, good or bad on many local issues and campaigns and made some unfortunate mistakes, both acts for which it continued to receive much criticism. Some of the articles, like ‘WHO CARES … Where is your child tonight?’ might have been considered controversial and a bit too close to the bone for many local residence of what had become a rather ‘sleepy’ town. The town’s population had remained around the 3000s for the past 140 or more years and suddenly there were masses of new-comers moving into the newly built housing estates and stirring things up.
It was however (as I read it now for the first time almost 50 years later) a dedicated and well-meaning ‘local’ newspaper covering the town and surrounding villages. Every month contained a thorough account of the Parish Council meeting where local issues were raised, discussed, and either solved or put on hold. As well as articles concerning local events and plenty of advertising, there were also a children’s’ corner, a ‘something to say’ section, village ventures, local walks, and a sports section, among others. The paper started off run from a home in The Lees but by Issue 7 an office was opened in the Social Club in the Old Pump House to make it easier for people to contribute to the content.
The final issue of the paper stated that “Our proudest achievement? Introducing a new word into the English language …ALBATROSSITY – defined as ‘an undesirable event caused by apathy or ineptitude'”. All 44 issues of the paper are stored in our archives and they provide a valuable source of information about the town over those two years when Faringdon was still a town in the perhaps forgotten north of Berkshire. For just another 4 months anyway; until it became a back-water town in southern Oxfordshire on 1st April 1974.
Faringdon Folly 1989-2020
The Faringdon Folly, sold monthly, was the next truly local paper for Faringdon and nearby villages. It was founded in 1989 by nearby Clanfield residents Ian and Carmen Smith and proved to be very popular in the community. The first addition in June, shown here, was A4 size and changed to the larger A3 format 4 years later, but still mainly printed in monochrome throughout. In 2000, the paper was sold to Tindle Newspapers, who printed it in full colour. An office was set up at 9 Market Place, above (presumably?) Marriotts Chartered Surveyors under the name of Faringdon Newspapers Ltd in the hands of Jackie and Laura Stayt. The office was later moved to the Corn Exchange, Gloucester Street. The paper could be purchased from local newsagents for 60p and was later made available by subscription to read online or a printed copy could be ordered for delivery to your door.
What’s On 1982-2020
What’s On in and around Faringdon was started in February 1982 by Jenny Braithwaite after she picked one up in another town one day. It was set up to publicise local events, and included adverts from local businesses. The monthly publication was delivered free to every household in Faringdon and over thirty of the surrounding villages, and a few were left in places such as the Library. Originally it was type-set on an old Varityper, and the headings for early editions were done with Letraset. Her last edition was in February 2001. Like the Faringdon Folly, it was taken over by Tindle Newspapers under the name of Faringdon Newspapers Ltd and the format of the paper changed. The paper could be obtained free from local newsagents and was later made available to read online or a printed copy could be ordered for delivery to your door.
The final issues of both the Faringdon Folly and the What’s On were in January 2020. The Faringdon Newspapers’ website is now not fully working and access to their online archive of back issues has now sadly gone without trace. Older back issues are stored in the society archives held in Faringdon Library.
Reference: Faringdon Newspapers Ltd
Focus on Faringdon 2007
Focus on Faringdon is a community interest non-profit company. established by Nick Elwell & Jane Haynes n 2007, with offices at 14 Market Place, Faringdon (once Barclays Bank). Produced annually, it is a 36-page business directory, tourism guide and information site. It expounds to be the essential guide to Faringdon and the surrounding area and has supported and managed town events such as the Sealed Knot and the annual Faringdon Arts Festival.
The Advertiser 2012
The latest local publication for Faringdon and surrounding towns and villages aims to promote local businesses, trades, services and other goings-on. The Advertiser Magazine Ltd was registered by local resident Mary Louise Guthrie in 2012 and the 16-page magazine is produced monthly from an office at Grove, near Wantage.
Recent past editions can be viewed freely online at www.theadvertisermagazine.net
Researched by Ian Lee, July 2020.