Looking back at the 145-year history of your Guardian newspaper

editorial image
Share this article

There was great interest recently when I posted online some internal photographs of the old Chorley Guardian printing room from the early 1960s.

It resulted in Flashback being contacted by Coun Adrian Lowe, who was pleasantly surprised to recognise his father sitting working at his printing equipment.

As a result Flashback takes a look at the printing of the Chorley Guardian at premises off Market Street.

This year marks the 145th anniversary of the Chorley Guardian newspaper, which is now part of Johnston Press, along with sister paper the Lancashire Evening Post.

The newspaper was first produced by Septimus Fowler from offices on Fazackerley Street before moving to 34 Market Street at which time it had become a family concern involving his wife and children.

It was a long and laborious task at a time when the printing blocks were all hand set and the paper was fed manually into the flat bed press by two men.

In the early days the newspaper was limited to eight pages and it was not long before there was a struggle to produce the quantity demanded around the borough.

As a result of the death of founder Septimus Fowler and the increased burden and stresses of meeting popular demand, the family sold the rights of the business to the Chorley Guardian Company.

In 1929, a Cossar press was installed on site and with the introduction of the Linotype processes, they were suddenly able to produce 16 pages, delivered folded, at a rate of 4,000
per hour.

Such was the potential and impact this new printing machine could bring to the company, a bottle of champagne was broken over its framework and affectionately christened Mercury.

In the late 1950s, the Chorley Guardian closed its offices at 34 Market Street and moved just behind at 32a Market Street and in close proximity with its recently redeveloped and extended photographic and printing rooms.

The first 50 years of the newspaper was hand printed and the next 50 years was machine printed and saw the introduction of extended editions, and the introduction and development of coloured text and photographs.

The Chorley Guardian then expanded into printing stationery and advertising material for local businesses and also book printing and binding.

By the late 1970s, the format and workings of local newspapers changed across the nation.

The media industry became a more commercial venture and community newspapers began to amalgamate and fall under the ownership of larger publishing groups.

And so, as the newspaper industry changed, so to did the Chorley Guardian.

After 100 years of ‘in-house’ printing, the process was moved to a specific press at Wigan, along with other sister publications, and later to Broughton Printers at Preston.

The 12 acre site was established in 1988 to print the Daily Express, Sunday Express and Daily Star for the North of England, as well as 12 other weekly titles.

It had eight presses and could produce 11 million newspapers per week.

But Broughton Printers closed last year, and today the Chorley Guardian is printed at News Printers Knowsley Ltd on Merseyside.