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Star founder found 

March 15, 2019 March 2019 No Comments

The story of founder of the original founder of the Martinborough Star continues:

“While I was in Martinborough I met Dick Seddon. He was a man who had the common touch.  He remarked to me that a man’s view of politics was his own affair, but he had a right to know the facts as they appeared to the men closest to the heart of things, and small newspapers played a valuable part in informing those to whom the metropolitan papers were not easily available. 

In the early years of the century I was doing well enough to employ old ‘comps’, or compositors; men who set up the type, and distribute it; they were usually men who drifted round the country, down on their luck for one reason or another, taking work where they could find it.  They seldom stayed long, but I had a good deal of sympathy for them.  

Most of them had worked on city papers, not very pleasant work in those early days when they had to contend with long hours which often lead to too many visits to the nearest pub; and also with the coming of linotyping, and new methods which they were too old to learn. They would take any work, but they were happiest near the smell of printing ink; I could understand that, and when they were sober they were often very good company 

In Martinborough I had an uncommon job which I believe was common enough in the city, but which had not come my way before.  A bank messenger, quite unannounced, came in one day with a large locked bag, full of torn and dirty banknotes.  We were asked to cut the notes into small pieces with the guillotine we used for trimming paper.  The man took the whole thing very seriously, guarding his bag as if he were a King’s Messenger, and watching me like a hawk.  

I suppose we shall always have those over-zealous, humourless types with us.  The notes were stamped in a large purple letters, CANCELLED, and they had holes punched through them, so I should have though they would be safe enough.  When I had finished, he packed every scrap of paper, even the smallest, into his bag, paid me, and left, without a word.  Those clock and dagger ways seemed amusing in sedate little Martinborough.

“It was in Martinborough that I first began to write an occasional letter to myself – a Letter to the Editor.  Let no one believe that all the letters they read in the paper are from the readers,.  Many of the letters are at least, editorially inspired But if they are written to rouse interest in a worth while local issue which is slow to catch the public imagination, they are justified and useful.  If the issue was a valid one, it wasn’t necessary to write more than one letter; genuine answers in reply soon came in, sometimes in greater numbers than I could cope with. 

“In the early days no matter how poorly a paper was printed – and in my time I was obliged now and then to use shoddy paper, and type which could only be described as junk – shortcomings were forgiven by most if the news was there.  In spite of anything that might be said against the ‘rags’ no-one ever seemed to want to miss a copy. it was usually the man who had been most lukewarm when in promising his support when I began the venture, and who was loudest in ‘rubbishing’ the paper , who was most indignant if his copy wasn’t delivered on time.  

Small and dull these little towns might seem to an outsider, I always found them lively enough.  The man who ran the paper was known to everyone, and knew everyone.  My membership and patronage were sought for all manner of local activities.  I have been asked to preside at meetings to consider matters about which I knew almost nothing, but I took anything on without worrying; 

I knew well enough that I was wanted because my attendance would ensure a good write-up in the paper – at least of the facts.  I steered clear of supporting one faction and defending another, and kept to the facts.”

If Kimbolton had been an impossible paper to sell, Martinborough was only too successful.  In a little over a year it was doing so well that James received several offers for it, one for a sum that was too tempting to refuse. 

Note; It was J H Claridge’s great grand daughter who printed the book that the chapter on Martinborough Star was taken from not his son and daughter as we had printed

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